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Worries Clouded by Privilege

I am a worrier.   As a child I was a worrier. I lay in bed and worried. I worried about my family. If anyone went out in the evening, I lay awake and worried until they came home. I worried there would be an accident, a drunk driver, a catastrophic event, a mugging or a murder. My mind went and still goes crazy with worry. I never feel safe until the family is safely tucked in their beds. Even then I plan escape routes in the case that someone breaks into my home. Where do I hide when I dial 9-1-1? Who grabs the children? Where do we wait until the police arrive?

I am a worrier. I worry about crazy things.

Growing up in Boulder, Colorado, my brother and his friends got into the typical teenage mischief, even a little more than the typical mischief. My friends and I did the same. As teenagers weekend nights were spent drinking beer and schnapps in parks around town. Summer nights we hopped fences and went swimming in private pools. As we got older we crashed college parties. We were typical teenagers participating in typically harmless illegal activity. Most of these nights the cops would come. Sirens piercing the night air, the heavy thud of official fists pounding on front doors.   The cops came. We ran. We ran, jumped fences and crossed private property. We sprinted away as fast as we could. Teenagers breaking the law. They shouted at us to stop. Some of my friends laughed. The rebellious shouted profanities in return.

I am a worrier. I worry about everything. I worry about the craziest things. I never worried that a police officer would shoot me. I never worried that an officer would shoot my brother. I never worried that they would shoot any of my asshole friends. If you asked me if it ever crossed my mind whether an officer might pull his gun and shoot at us?

I’d respond – “ludicrous, inconceivable, crazy” – not something I worried about.

I am a worrier. I worry about crazy things.

I met my husband when we were in our early twenties. His pants sagged below his boxers, a hoody draped over his head. When he walked home from the bars late at night I never worried that police officers might stop and frisk him. I never worried that a neighborhood watchman would follow him and pull out a gun.  I never worried that an attitude toward authority would get him shot. His parents never worried about these things.

Even though I am a worrier and I worry about crazy things.

We live in a world that is not color blind. We live in a world of the haves and have-nots. We live in a world where black boys are shot unarmed just for being black boys. We live in a world where an 18-year-old black man is shot multiple times by a police officer weeks before he goes to college. We live in a world where the media criminalizes black victims by memorializing them with photos that make them look like thugs. We live in a world where a neighborhood watchman murders an African American teenager under the guise of “self-defense”. The teenager’s act of aggression – being black.

My daughter starts kindergarten in a couple of weeks and I am sick with worry. The list is long – will she be lost in the classroom, will she speak up for herself, will she make a friend, will she have someone to sit with at lunch and play with at recess.  The start of a long list of worries.

But then, I pause to think. I am the mother of a white girl. My worries are drenched in white privilege. If my children’s skin were a different color then there would be real worries.

My heart hurts for the mothers of black boys who have to worry about prejudice that I cannot even fathom. A world where police officers don’t represent safety.  A world where there is no presumption of innocence.  A world where their children must learn to convince people of their good.

I am a worrier.  I worry about crazy things.

America has reason to worry.

Racism exists. The world is not color blind. We must not cast a blind eye. How many unarmed black men must die before society makes changes?

#Ferguson #RIP #TrayvonMartin #MichaelBrown

Please read Sarah Bessey’s essay about Ferguson.  She describes the situation eloquently.


I did not edit this essay.  I felt the need to say something.

2 thoughts on “Worries Clouded by Privilege

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