To the Editor:
At first, I was not a proponent of removing the controversial plaque from the Civil War monument in Oak Bluffs. But I have people in my life I love and respect who strongly favor removal. So I decided it was time to take a deep dive into the subject of racism in America and learn more about it before opening my big mouth and making a declaration about something that I honestly know nothing about.
After plunging into the ugly waters of the subject, I have come to the surface with the stark realization that I’ve been completely ignorant about racism in our society for my entire life. I believed that just because I’m “not a racist,” and I don’t actively discriminate against anyone, that I was outside the culture of racism and white supremacy in America.
The unvarnished truth is that I am entrenched in a society and culture that are inherently and systematically racist, and that I am a participant in that culture. As a white person, I never have to think about my race. It doesn’t affect every single aspect of my life. I don’t have to worry about how my whiteness affects my ability to get an education, get a job, get a bank loan, buy a house, get a fair trial, or even do something as benign as drive my car. I don’t have to go to court for the right to wear my natural hair. My whiteness has been an unearned privilege. I now am strongly in favor of removing that plaque from its place of honor. The chasm is not closed. It’s real and raw, and on full display every single day in this country.