Everyone together: Nobody is “those people.”

Holly Wenninger,
Malden, MA.

I’m white, but for the past six or so years I’ve worked out at n athletic center whose focus is primarily on the POC community — so when I’m there, I’m usually the only white person in the room. A couple unanticipated side effects of this are (a) now when I see black people in a room or on the street, I automatically smile or head over to join them, because I’m thinking “my people!” (meanwhile, they are of course not thinking this at all about me); and (b) when I hear or read racist remarks and assumptions now, I experience them in a personal way I never did before joining this gym. I work with a white guy who likes to talk about how “those people,” meaning inner city black people, need to get organized and solve “their” problems themselves, as if we are members of two entirely separate countries, or something. And all I think is, Are we not all Americans? Aren’t these “our” problems, not “those people’s” problems? And wouldn’t we try harder if we thought of inner city issues as “our” problems? We got the gangs out of the Boston area white neighborhoods, and I can’t help but think that happened because white people are viewed as “us” by most politicians and law enforcement. Why aren’t black people equally us? We’re all “us.” There’s no such thing as “those people.”

 

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