Dorothy Dempsey

We are cautioned by our black and white sisters and brothers to be careful in how we speak about racism and politics to white acquaintance. Some of these are intelligent, educated white folks who say they do not understand the black people's plight because  they have struggles just as black folks do, never acknowledging the of white privilege.

You feel like screaming when you tell a white friend how upset you are at, say, an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch a white columnist, Bill McClellan, showing so much bias against black children. You explain your feelings about how a newspaper that basically caters to a white audience allows McClellan to report in such a biased manner about, say, a dine-and-dash incident involving black youth.

In discussing the incident, you share with your white friend that your daughter was privy when in college to white girls sitting in a restaurant and discussing dine and dash. My daughter had never heard of it before and was wondering why they would do  it. She said that money did not seem to be a problem for those classmates

Dine and dash is not new to white college kids; they have been doing it a very long time. Yet McClellan chose to base his article solely on black youth.

My white friend’s response was that she liked Bill McClellan and enjoyed reading his articles and that I should get to know him because he writes about a lot of good things and probably meant no harm.

I have never read McClellan’s articles responded to this particular column after being encouraged by my daughter to do so. He expressed exactly how he feels about black people in general.

A white newspaper reporter recently told me a story about being followed in a store – as a white person – and how he was watched and profiled. It was the same old tale of white people who think they truly know what racism is.

Here he was a white man, and they profiled him in the store. Why do blacks think racism is that bad? How could it possibly be?

Experiences are just experiences for a white person. For a black person, there are mountains, stepping stones and hurdles every day. We don't just move on. Racism is ingrained like dirt and very deep.

I told him of my visit to the South as a child and how I went with my aunts and mother to a movie theatre where we were told we could not sit downstairs with the whites and were hustled upstairs.

I asked my mother why? I wanted to know what was going on. Even in my young mind, I knew something was not right. I remember my mother telling me to be quiet. I can still remember it to this day as a senior citizen. It made an indelible imprint on my heart.

The conversation with the reporter ended after I shared my experience with him.

Until some white people come out of their time capsule  and realize that they do not understand what racism is, then there can be no real change. Real change comes when people are open to dialogue on race and listen with open ears and an open heart. If I can educate myself on white people, then surely they can educate themselves on me.

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