Conversation overheard in a local Jewel this week between two white women:

“This is so scary.”

“Yeah, it’s really scary.”

“It’s like World War 3.”

“When are things going to go back to normal? Maybe in 2021 we’ll be back to normal.”

“Yeah, I hope so because this is scary.”

While COVID-19 has certainly made the world feel abnormal, given the reference to World War III, I felt it was safe to assume they were referring to the tumultuous events that have ensued since the death of George Floyd on May 25. What’s really scary is that so many of us white people are frightened, inconvenienced, and appalled by the violence — while not caring enough to be fully aware of and outraged by what happened to George Floyd and so many others before him.

Like many, the grocery store woman wants to go back to normal, but what a lot of us don’t realize is our white privilege allows us a normal free of the worries black people face every single day. Are we afraid? Are we uncomfortable? Are we inconvenienced? That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

It’s not bad if it causes us to look at and understand the burdens and challenges of our black brothers and sisters. It’s not bad if it propels us to speak out and demand action. It’s not bad if we become even a little bit less fragile and self-centered in our whiteness.

What are we supposed to do as white people? A good start would be to lay down our defense mechanisms and really listen — with our ears and our hearts.

Because underneath all the violence and chaos there are legitimate voices crying to be heard.

Kathy Woods

Oak Park

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