by Helen Gerhardt
When I sat in the street next to a black friend protesting the death of Trayvon Martin, I knew there was little I could say or to do that could fix even a fraction of what she faced every day.
I knew that my friend’s rage and grief were justified. I knew that my action or inaction there at Freedom Corner would make almost no difference to changing the course of the flood of racism, exploitation and violence that have wrecked the lives of so many men and women and children for centuries in this country. I knew and respected several of the older black men and women who urged the women to stop blocking traffic, understood their arguments for more pragmatic planning for more effective mass action. I knew that I really didn’t want to get arrested. I knew I would be really relieved if my friend got up.
I knew mostly that I wanted to stay by my friend’s side.
I think most “-isms” are based in not knowing the people we attach them to. My friend was much younger than me, but many times over many months she’d been my leader in maturity, self-respecting kindness, hard work, humor, thoughtful courage.
I’m not Trayvon Martin. And I’m not my friend who decided to sit in the street. I haven’t been condemned to horribly unfair struggle for life because of the color of my body. But because I know my friend, my own white body wanted to stay sitting down next to hers.
For other blog posts on this subject, click on the links below.