I'm clear that Im asking a whole lot of my fellow white people right now.
I'm not trying to convince you that I'm right or that I have better facts or the best words or even that black people aren't treated with the humanity they and we all deserve (they aren't.)
What I'm asking from you is to suspend your understanding of the rules of engagement and your knowledge of "how things work." To ignore your past experiences...to silence the "well I just would haves"...and the "I don't thinks"...and resist drawing inferences from the time something sort of seemingly similar happened to you or someone you know.
Then I'm asking you to put yourself in another persons shoes. Someone who hasn't been afforded the many privileges that you have - privileges that are so reliable and broad and sweeping that it's nearly impossible to see or imagine your life without them.
Then I'm asking you to imagine how you might feel and act in the face of grave and life-of-your-children-threatening injustice that's been present and willfully ignored and denied for generations. And I need you to imagine how you might feel in these circumstances AFTER you stripped away much of the (unknown to you) race-related socialization that you've been bathed in your whole life...socialization that likely encouraged you to value conformity, individual perseverance, conflict avoidance, and faith in systems and processes.
What would you do then? What would you feel? Could you even imagine? If you can't...or if you can even just see how complicated all that is...what would it take for you believe someone else who can imagine or doesn't have to?
Also what does it mean for us all that what I've just described really only speaks to our limited ability to engage in perspective taking...This doesn't even begin to address the real internal damage and soul-warping that racism does to both us and people of color.
This work is big and foundational and it is a lot. But it's also really necessary.
This is what it takes for us white folks to really listen to what we don't and can't know but have to begin to believe for us to move forward.