I’m ashamed to be a white person.
This skin I am in is a privilege. This skin I am in protects me from injustice, from oppression, from bias, like racial profiling, like unfair treatment for the color of your skin, like being entitled to unlawful behavior, like it protected Brock Turner from getting the sentence he deserved. Have I taken this privilege for granted? Absolutely. Does it entitle me? Absolutely not. A privilege is not a right, however, and I fear I am in the minority with my thinking.
Brock Turner, another white kid handed a “get out of jail free” card. Brock Turner and Cory Batey, same crime, far different sentences.
“This skin I am in is a privilege.”
I’ve stopped watching the news. Not because I want to turn a blind eye, but because the fear-laden media infuriates me and saddens me.
This is not the world I want my children to grow up knowing. To think that the color of their skin excuses their wrongdoings, as it seems to have done for Turner.
Turner is white. A college athlete at Stanford, he has been convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. His sentence is a maximum of six months in jail, but he could get out after three months for good behavior. (Important difference: He will go to jail, not prison.) Batey’s crime was the same, yet he is black. He will be sentenced in July, but he must serve a mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen to twenty-five years in prison.
Did Brock Turner feel entitled? I don’t see it any other way. He thought alcohol gave him a valid excuse for his behavior. Did Cory Batey feel entitled? I don’t see it any other way. He thought alcohol gave him a valid excuse for his behavior.
“I would like to believe that racism is dead. It is not. I would like to believe I live in a world where justice is fairly served. It is not.”
I have no sympathy for Brock. I have no sympathy for Cory, either. My sympathy lies with the victims. Make no mistake, whatever color you are, sexual assault is a crime, and should be punished as such.
The problem is that it seems that your color determines your punishment, not the crime you commit. The disproportionate sentences between the crimes speaks volumes.
Brock Turner inherited his entitlement from his father, apparently. Judge Aaron Persky, the jurist in the case, stated that a long prison sentence would have a severe impact on Brock Turner. Um, hello? As it should. He is a convicted rapist, his punishment should have a severe impact.
I would like to believe that racism is dead. It is not. I would like to believe I live in a world where justice is fairly served. It is not.
“I will do my part. I worry though: Is that enough?”
As a mother to a son and a daughter, I think of how I can change this paradigm. I am not a judge, nor am I an officer of the law, so I can’t enforce the laws to see that justice is served, because even that is no guarantee. Having the conversation with my daughter about protecting herself, and how sadly that what you wear sends messages to boys, even if your voice says otherwise, may adjust to the paradigm, but doesn’t shift it. My daughter goes to a school where the mission in part is social justice. She is encouraged to challenge what she knows is wrong, and speak up for those whose voices are not heard as loudly as hers. I can have a conversation with my son about inappropriate, unwanted touching, and consent, or lack thereof.
I will raise my children to see their white skin does not entitle them to treat people in a despicable manner. Their white skin does not excuse them from mistakes they will make. A privilege is not a right. I can do my best to surround them with diversity, immerse them in different cultures. I am raising them to be compassionate thinkers, and to use their privilege for the goodness of humanity. I will do my part. I worry though: Is that enough?