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I Am White, You Are Black, And I Can See The Color

I Am White, You Are Black, And I Can See The Color 1200 675 Jason Stadtlander

I did not grow up in what I would call “White privilege.” I grew up in Columbus, Ohio in an ‘average’ low to a middle-class White neighborhood. I was bussed to inner-city schools in predominantly Black communities as part of the desegregation programs, and fellow Black children were bused to schools in my home area. Later I would go to high school with most of those children along with many of the children I went to school with.

As I started off – I did not grow up in what I would call “White privilege”. But here is the problem. What I consider White privilege and what my fellow Black classmates would consider White privilege most likely are two very different things. I never understood that until recently. It took me forty years to understand this because I wear my White privilege on my body. I was born with it. I can do nothing to remove it, and because of this, I have been blind to it.

As a White person, growing up I was taught to see no color, to blur the lines between black and white, that there is no race. This is known as ‘non-racist’. We, as white kids, embraced our Air Jordan’s, Rap music, and Thug Life but this isn’t understanding what it means to be Black, it’s simply appropriating some of Black culture to seem cool. The moment it is no longer cool, we discard it. But what we (as Whites) have been unable or unwilling to accept up until recently is that we cannot understand what it means to be Black unless we have lived in the shoes of a Black man.

Unless we have walked down the street and been looked at differently merely because of our skin. Unless we have been stopped for a routine traffic stop and gone through the heart-shattering panic of how that traffic stop might go down. Or until we have been automatically assumed guilty simply because of the color of our skin. We, as White people, can never understand what it means to be Black and we must accept this.

What we must do is make changes. In ourselves, and in others. White privilege is a real thing. But it is incumbent on us, as White people, to do something with that privilege that doesn’t serve just ourselves.

I was raised to be non-racist, and I understand now that this is the wrong perspective. Do not be non-racist. Be anti-racist.

  • Non-racist is passive, to say that you don’t see race. To say that we are all equal and skin color doesn’t matter. I’m not saying that non-racism is a bad thing. It is not a bad thing and ultimately that is something we should move to achieve. But right now, we need anti-racism.
  • Anti-racism is active, to choose to take action against wrongs that are being done currently. To help to change the perspectives of those around us. It is also a much harder thing to do. Changing laws, changing views, changing people. Change doesn’t come easy, but if we work together we can make a difference.

As White people, we are in a unique place. We can stand beside our brothers and sisters and ensure that they are treated with the respect and dignity they so rightly deserve. That they have earned. They have fought for centuries through the crap and through the glory that has made this country, and we need to stand along-side them. Not as hate-filled bigots, but as Whites and Blacks that will stand for no more racism. Angry, yes, but not hate-filled. We need to ensure that Blacks are treated equally to Whites and will help ALL our children, Black and White, to know a world where there is harmony and unity for all races. Where all children can be pulled over for speeding and not be afraid to talk to the police. Where our cultural differences unite us, not divide us. Where we can see the beauty and pride of being Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian, and be proud of our differences, not ashamed or afraid. There are of course many of us Black and White that have great chasms to bridge and sadly it may mean the end of entire generations before we will truly see the monumental changes we are hoping for. But it all starts somewhere. Right here. Right now. With us.

We as Whites need to make sure that we are not just ‘spewing words’ (me included).

  • Talk to your local government.
    • Make sure that there is training put in place to ensure that law enforcement has anti-racism training.
    • Check your local laws (all of them) and help to make changes that do not discriminate based on race.
    • Be aware of mistreatment based on race, if you see it happening, do not stand idle. Speak out.
  • Truth begins around the dinner table. Talk to your kids, teach them that White privilege is a real thing and that it should not be self-serving.
  • Fear – Fear that everything we have been taught may be a lie. Always question everything. Ask yourself if it makes sense and if you would want to be treated the way that person is being treated.
  • Act – If someone is being mistreated. Don’t just stand by and watch. Say something. Do something. Record something. Post something. Help change something. Only if we make our voice heard will change move forward.

What opened my eyes?

For everyone, there is an eye-opening moment I suppose. Yes, I was appalled by George Floyd, but it didn’t hit home as maybe it should have. And there have been several other moments that maybe should have flipped my switch. For me, it was last night on my son’s fourteenth birthday. He asked me to watch “The Hate U Give”. I watched the trailer and thought, sure – why not. I watched it, and I was so moved, and it completely opened my eyes as to how blind I’ve been on multiple levels. There was a poignant moment when a ten-year-old stood defending his father and I was floored. I am intimately familiar with black culture, but I did not truly think about what it means to be black. I’m glad I do now. Let us change this, together.

Living in the Past & Resisting Change

Living in the Past & Resisting Change

Living in the Past & Resisting Change 1920 1080 Jason Stadtlander

I feel stressed and I retract my thoughts to a specific memory in my childhood;

I am seven years old, sitting in my father’s green 1970 Chevy pickup on the grey bench seat, more specifically it’s a grey seat cover that covers the original green seat. The aroma of the hot chocolate I’m holding in my gloved hands is strong. Dad had ordered it for me as I was finishing my breakfast at the Howard Johnson’s restaurant in Wooster we visited on the way to the job site. It was our regular ritual for us, having breakfast at Howard Johnson’s during our weekend drives from our home in Canal Fulton to the farm in Loudonville.

The grey floorboard has some scattered dirt and dust on it and it’s lightly raining outside. The old windshield wipers are slowly swishing back and forth, “I love a rainy night” by Eddie Rabbitt is playing on the AM radio and I can feel the warm heat blowing on my feet. I’m wearing a red hooded high-school sweatshirt with a faded eagle on it that my father used to wear his senior year of high school, jeans and a pair of over-sized work gloves ready to help my dad do some landscaping. I’m waiting on him to come back to the truck as he’s talking to the customer. I get bored and lean over to change the dial on the radio, sweeping the little red needle back and forth. I move it down to the 500 kHz range and I hear the dot-dash beeping of Morse code. I have no idea what they are spelling out, but it intrigues me.

My dad then gets into the truck and stops, looks at the radio and then at me. “What is it, dad?” I ask, referring to the beeping on the radio.

“Aliens,” he replies back matter-of-factly. My eyes grew wide.

“I’m kidding. It’s just someone sending a message by Morse code. Probably a HAM radio operator nearby.”

It’s just a memory, one of many from my childhood that brings me peace. A memory of a simpler time (for me) when money, responsibilities, and life didn’t stress me out. There was no internet, no cell phones and no need for anyone to get anything instantly.

It’s not exactly a news flash that our world feels like it is moving and changing faster than ever in recorded history. The reality is of course that it is changing at pretty much the same speed it has for the last hundred and twenty to hundred and forty years.

A little over a hundred years ago, adults (fifty and over) at the time were grappling to understand why on earth anyone would want to get from place to place so fast using a mechanical vehicle when for thousands of years horses and carriages had served just fine. Seventy years ago adults in the same age bracket were resisting the change of getting a television when a radio worked just fine for the family.

Today it befuddles many adults why technology is changing so often and why they are constantly being forced to learn the new innovative technologies. Many of the changes are beneficial, making life easier. Although the constant need to adapt to newer hardware or applications roughly every five years may not be difficult for someone in their twenties and thirties, by the time a person reaches their fifties and beyond, the ability to learn these new innovations becomes profoundly difficult.

It’s only natural to want to return to the simplicity of your youth and fifty years from now, no doubt our children will want to return to the simplicity of a hand-held mobile phone and being able to text one another to keep in touch.

It is this stress of needing to constantly change that forces many of us to reminisce about those times that were perceptively easier in our own lives. But is it healthy to do so? Retreating to those memories is a stress reliever for most people, including myself. There is, however, a difference between thinking about the past and living in it. The past is familiar, we know what happened and we know what the outcomes are of how the past played out. However, pick a memory, at that exact moment in the past your life was changing. You didn’t know what to expect or where your world would go. It stands to reason that at that moment – you thought about your past beyond then to cope with stress.

We as a civilization move on. The world moves forward and we have no choice but to move along with the flow. We may be able to divert the waters of change here and there, but ultimately there is nothing we can do to stop the fact that it changes. We will never “make things great again” and most likely things were not as ‘great’ as we remember them. The truth is, fifty years from now you will look back and remember how great things were in this time. So, as I continue to tell myself every day – enjoy your memories and hold on to them, but embrace the change of the future and work to make a difference in controlling how that change plays out.

Forgotten Words… Stand Up and Uphold Them

Forgotten Words… Stand Up and Uphold Them 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We have all seen these words throughout our life but clearly our country has forgotten americanflagthem. They are merely words. Although I am seeing everywhere that people are upset that they are being defiled, denigrated and ground into the pavement. The very core of our faith in God and our country and being forsaken, I have yet to see anyone truly stand up and say they are willing to uphold them. Most are only willing to uphold some of them. Most of our country says “Yes, it’s horrible where our leaders are taking our country.”, “We really need to vote someone into office that can lead us in the right direction.”

I believe, it is time we regained control from the ground up. That we reestablish what has been lost over the last sixty years. You are not going to vote anyone into office that is going to ‘fix’ what is broken because the voting system itself is flawed and controlled by the very forces you wish to oppose.

No, I am not a super right wing, bible thumping conservative. I am just an author, a father, and someone who wants a better world for my children to grow up in.

Stand up America! Stand up and be proud and listen to what our ancestors told us:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Stand up America, and I will stand with you.

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