It is early in the morning hours on June 3rd. Yesterday all social media was flooded by black. I really had no idea of it, I may be sheltered, or I may just hadn’t seen anything about it. In any case, I did not participate. Why? Because, to me every life on this planet matters.
I was blessed to be born in a country where all men are created equal. This country was founded on those principals. Do we follow them? No. SHOULD we follow them? Yes. The Declaration of Independence says, ” We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ” This is for all people. This country was born of struggle and the pursuit of freedom.
Yesterday, after seeing post after post after post of people pontificating, I wrote three words that are the title to this post. I knew as I wrote them that I could be crossing that imaginary line that has somehow become very blatant in this country. But, to me, what I said mattered. How I felt mattered. I had read things being said about our country during this time. I read about our leadership being rallied against, both domestically and abroad. I finally decided enough was enough. I posted my choice for the upcoming election and told everyone that they were free to unfriend me because of that choice. I did this for a few reasons, but, mainly because I needed to take a stand and draw a line for me.
I caught flak for the statement I made on someone’s black post. I was told my comprehension skills were lacking. I couldn’t possibly understand. That I was living in white privilege. That in this case, I was wrong. To the people who know me, you know that I love people. I do not see color when looking at anyone. Most of the time I cannot even tell you what color of eyes people have. I notice people’s demeanor, their smile, their attitude. Those are what I notice in people. That is just me.
Do I agree with what has gone on in my country the past week? Absolutely not. It was a horrendous crime that needs to be punished. Do I agree with protest? Yes. Do I agree with violence and looting and aggressive behavior? That, to me, is the same as the original crime, it needs to be punished.
Now, to the young woman who chastised me online for saying three words… All lives matter, let me please defend myself, after having time to think this through. Yes, I am white. Very white since I have Irish and Scottish blood running through my veins, I don’t ever tan, but that is besides the point. I grew up in a not so wealthy family, some may say poor, no, we didn’t have a lot of money. My sisters and I had just enough clothes to be presentable. We lived in a house that should have been condemned years before it actually was. My mother died when I was 11. My father, wasn’t always conscious of how to raise three girls, but, he did the best he was able. So, young woman, no, I did not have white privilege growing up.
Continuing, young woman, I did not go to college, not for not wanting it, but, it was not encouraged and I was too intimidated to try. Fortunately, I met the love of my life and we married young and moved away from your mother’s hometown. We moved because he was in the Navy. So, I did not have the ease of being able to be with family like you have the ability.
We moved to the south, young lady, a big change from northwestern Pennsylvania. I attempted to find a job since young Navy families do not get paid well. I had been trained working at the hospital, the one you were probably born in. A wonderful facility that was well known in the area. I was good at my job and proud of the work I did. When I moved south I could not find a job. I believe it is called discrimination. A term you thought I wasn’t familiar with. I saw many, many applications unceremoniously placed into the ’round file cabinet’, the trash. When I finally did get a job I was referred to by my boss and the management as ‘that damn yankee mick’. I did not hear my name spoken the entire time I worked at that job. Oh, by the way, they also fired me because I called in sick with a doctor’s excuse. But, no, I don’t understand discrimination.
Next, young woman, we lived overseas. It truly was a wonderful time in my life, one that I will cherish. We were there because my husband, took an oath to defend and serve this country, because all lives matter and freedom of speech and freedom to think for one’s self is paramount in our lives. We lived in houses without hot running water, we had to literally heat the water each time we used it in our first place. We had neighbors who spoke english, but because we were Americans and we were in Japan, they refused to speak to us. But, I understood, as I understand where you are coming from. We lived with rats that would chew the plaster in our walls at night, we lived with roaches that truly were atomic mutants that would fill our homes. I used to brush the roaches away from my baby as she slept because there was no killing them, there were so many.
Yes, young woman, you may see me as not comprehending, being privileged, living a lofty life, but, you are not correct. I see you and your families beautiful photos on your mother’s page. You are lovely, as is your family. When I say all lives matter, they do. No one escapes this world without some pain and suffering. Prejudice is not only for the color of skin. Prejudice is for the little girl whose clothes are different from the rest of her classmates. Prejudice is for the child who is smarter than anyone else, or slower than anyone else. You are young. I had strong beliefs when I was your age, but the sand paper of life and experience has worn off the sharp edges and what remains in me is the firm belief that all lives matter. My husband gave 21 years of his life to serve this country so that you can have those beliefs. He did it willingly and without expecting anything in return. He served so that you can tell a total stranger, someone you do not know that she doesn’t comprehend, and she is privileged. I hope this has given you a glimpse into a life that does and has mattered, maybe not to you, but to those who know me. Cathi (DAF)