“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” –Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Remember the book Black Like Me, published in 1961 by white journalist John Howard Griffin? He temporarily darkened his skin to “pass” as a black man and traveled through five racially segregated states for six weeks. He expected to find prejudice and bigotry, but it was far worse than he’d anticipated. He exposed the atrocities to his audience. Much of white America didn’t like that. In 1964, he was beaten with chains by a group of white men and it took him five months to recover.
But there’s another segment of white America. Many ARE striving for empathy and standing in solidarity with black America. Have been for years. We can’t literally step OUT of our skin, but we can step IN to come alongside.
We can add our voices in solidarity. We can stand against the anarchists being salted into the current protests. We can call out what is clearly wrong, like anything that smacks of white supremacy. And there’s plenty of that.
I think we hesitate to join a movement because we think solidarity means agreeing with everything about it, but this is where our whole country needs to grow up. Solidarity on the George Floyd issue doesn’t have to mean being anti-police. Chauvin was a bad cop, not the poster child of white cops.
Here’s the thing about skin color. The epidermis is about one tenth of a millimeter thick, about the thickness of one sheet of paper. I, for one, am not going to let one tenth of a millimeter keep me from doing the right thing.
I’m just one white person with a small voice, and I’ll get it wrong at times, but for what it’s worth, I stand in solidarity with black America.