Kim Riggins: What about me?

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. Okay, I have a hate/hate relationship with social media in that I hate almost everything about it and I hate that I can’t stay away from it. I tell myself things like, “Don’t read the comments,” or “Okay, read the comments but don’t say anything because it will become a long, involved discussion that will solve nothing.”

Then, “What did he say?! Okay, comment because this guy needs some education.” It never really turns into anything educational because social media has given anyone with an opinion, educated or not, a platform from which to spew it and we get to listen to it—or read it. Yippee!

The trend I have noticed lately, what with all the protests and shootings, is that there are a lot of white people who are overly defensive about being white. “Well, I guess it’s my fault because I’m white,” they lament sarcastically. Or, “I’m not allowed to have white Pride because being white is bad.” And my personal favorite, “Why don’t we get white history month?” Where is mine? What about me? Me, me, me. Mine, mine, mine.

“Why can’t we just say all lives matter? Don’t all lives matter? Why do we have to celebrate gay Pride and black gay Pride? All these labels do are divide us.” But my question is, “Why do those things divide us?” They only divide if we allow them to. As a white woman, I do not feel marginalized by Black Lives Matter. As a white lesbian, I do not feel marginalized by black gay Pride. To be frank, as a white person, even a white gay person, I doubt very seriously that I know what it feels like to be truly marginalized at all and the little I do know about it only fosters a sense of injustice for those who know about it on a much deeper level.

I get it, though. I really do. I used to throw tantrums when I didn’t get presents on my brother’s birthday. That is essentially what our “what about me?” society has come to. Why don’t we get to have straight Pride? Or white Pride? Why don’t all lives matter? Or blue lives? Why do only black lives matter? These questions stem from a mindset akin to that of a four-year-old who cannot comprehend the world beyond their own small bubble. It is not in the nature of a small child to think of others. The only things they can grasp are things that affect them. It isn’t that they are hateful. They are children. They lack understanding. They haven’t grown up enough to see that the world doesn’t revolve around them—an understandable state for a child that is far less tolerable when we encounter it in adults.

No one has ever asked me to apologize for the color of my skin. No one has insisted that I apologize for the actions of people long dead and gone. No one has ever asked me to sit in the back of a bus. No one has ever asked me to use a different water fountain. No one has asked me to feel ashamed or to hang my head because I’m white. Those things are not necessary for us to be on the right side of history here. I can acknowledge that there are injustices that I will never experience and that privilege does not equal monetary wealth. There is no shame in that. The shame comes when we see those who do not enjoy the same advantages and we ask, “What about me?”