My gym has reopened select locations and I was excited to be back. I had to drive over 30 minutes to get there, but I needed to lift some weights! While warming up on the treadmill, there was a report on TV about a Black Lives Matter march in a neighboring town. The man next to me on the treadmill, sort of scoffed and then stated that it was part of a "radical conspiracy". I had heard that rumor before , so I asked him to say more. He stated that Whites do not have privilege and Black people have as much of a chance in America to make it as anyone else.
He went on to say that Black people use racism as a crutch. That if they would do what he did, they too could get ahead. I told him that I was currently writing a book for teachers that addressed the structuralized racism in schools, and my research had lead me to some startling statistics. I asked him if he were knowledgeable about the statistics that show Black people are pulled over more, suspended from school more, incarcerated at higher rates etc. Additionally, Whites are overrepresented in positions of power, wealth, health, housing and employment. He replied, "Well it is not just a Black and White thing, it is because of people's choices and actions.
He repeatedly began his comments with, "I am not racist, but..." I believe, that he believes, he is not a racist. However, until we begin to believe what Black people say about their experience in this country, we cannot shift the racism.