White supremacy I win needs dismantiling

Ken Woodward,
Germantown, MD

I’m a 49-year-old white male. I have primarily lived oblivious to the pervasiveness of white supremacy and mostly denied its existence. I raised a mixed race step-grandson from a 4 months old to now 24 years old.

Two years ago I started my journey into understanding the world of People of Color. Reading/listening to diverse authors, listening to different podcasts and asking people who look different than me about their lived experience.

This journey has upended my understanding of my American history, its venerable heroes, and the recognition the racial disparity, we encounter today, has been systematically built to benefit a particular group. I am this group.

During a trip home from North Carolina this week, I had to take a detour off I-95 after crossing into Virginia. I passed the remnants of a cotton crop on the edge of a field. All I could think of is the suffering this fluffy fruit delivered upon so many people; slave, master, and country. I then returned to the highway only to be welcomed by a horribly majestic Confederate flag billowing in the wind. Jefferson Davis said, “My pride is that that flag shall not set between contending brothers; and that, when it shall no longer be the common flag of the country, it shall be folded up and laid away like a vesture no longer used.”

The white man says, “what race problem, look how far we have come.” The black man says, “there is a race problem, see how far we have to go.”

Last month was the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first slave in America. We continue to pay the price for how this horrific practice shapes our thinking and policies.

I have benefitted from this history and want to do what I can to dismantle the very structures that have given me this privilege. I never owned a slave, but I still reap the rewards of that system. Without shaming my white brothers and sisters, let’s work to give our children’s generation the gift of true equality.

Change hurts, but not changing hurts for generations.


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