Dear White People: Please Stop Telling Me How To Feel About Trayvon Martin

Jul. 18, 2013
Carly Oishi is the co-producer of the blog and reading series Solo in the 2nd City (solointhe2ndcity.com). She also ...

Attempting to understand other people requires that you acknowledge that each and every one of us experiences and perceives life differently.

No one can know with certainty if race had anything to do with why George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin. But I think most of us could believe beyond a reasonable doubt, that if Trayvon had been a girl or a dad with a child or a guy in a business suit, things would have gone differently.

What it really boils down to is, I need white people to stop saying this isn’t about race. Sorry, but you are not allowed to tell minorities when something is or isn’t racist. When you are in the majority, when you have the power and are in control, you don’t tell those that are oppressed that they’re not. Do you also feel the need to defend a murderer because you know, or rather, assume you’d never kill anyone?

I don’t claim to know what it’s like to be anyone other than myself. But I do know what it’s like to be labeled “other”. I do know what it’s like to be stereotyped. I do know what it feels like when someone calls you a racial slur. I do know what it’s like to feel threatened for not fitting in. I do know how I felt when I walked into an all-white diner in the middle of nowhere Georgia with my Japanese-American family and feeling afraid.

And I would appreciate if you would stop ignoring, negating and dismissing my reality.

People have been killed for less, like walking home from the store with a bag of candy.

If you can’t see beyond your own existence, than what you’re really saying is that you don’t know how to function in a world where people aren’t exactly like you.

The problem is, that world isn’t real.

Difference can mean unequal, which means someone gets more, whatever “more” is. Tell half of a classroom of children they’re the police and the other half they’re prisoners and see what happens. See what happens when someone is given all of the control, labeled the good guys, how their self esteem and eventual power trips take over. Then look at what happens when someone is told they’re bad for no reason, when their freedom is taken away from them, when someone they once thought was their peer is now their superior. These are the dynamics at play and sometimes they are based on the color of our skin.

If we can agree that people who make less money or are not as intelligent or socially awkward or less attractive are being treated differently than those who are the opposite, that men and women are treated differently, old and young, heterosexual and homosexual, then we can say racism exists, especially when it’s plain as day.

I need you to try to harder. I need you to remember a time when someone made you feel less than, because I know it’s happened. The minority of people truly are the bullies who get away with everything. But those who think of themselves this way, those who treat others poorly because of their superiority complex are the ones I worry about.

As long as there is “other” and that being “other” is perceived as a bad thing, the idea of a post-racial society cannot and will not exist. We still live in a country that won’t allow a certain population of people to get married, won’t allow a certain population of people to make choices about their pregnancies, won’t allow certain people protection and rights and fair wages because like our founding fathers, they came here hoping for something better. We are a nation that strengthens the strongest and does everything it can to destroy the weak and unwanted.

This is a country that puts a value on humans based solely on how much money we make. The more you have, the better quality of life you can afford.

We are not created equal.

So I need all of you who don’t seem to comprehend that people can and are being treated much differently than you are to sit down and shut up.

When you are Them, stop telling Us how to feel. TC mark

Carly Oishi

Carly Oishi

Carly Oishi is the co-producer of the blog and reading series Solo in the 2nd City (solointhe2ndcity.com). She also …

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