Opening Words from Sun. January 18: by Samantha White

I’ll admit that I’ve struggled significantly about what I should share with you today. Countless times I’ve asked myself, do I belong in this role? Aren’t there other people who have been more involved, are better speakers, deserve this chance more, etc.? And the honest answer is Yes. But I was asked to be here and I refuse to let my doubt stop me from sharing my experience as a protester on the streets of St Louis after the death of Michael Brown.

I have protested and I have been afraid. I’ve been afraid of police & the National Guard, of my fellow protesters, of walking in the dark in an unfamiliar neighborhood, of being trampled. But more than anything else I have been afraid that I have not done enough. I’ve attended a few marches, I’ve spent a few evenings at the Ferguson Police Department, I’ve attended workshops on racism & police brutality…I’ve been trying to do my part but it is difficult to step outside of my privilege as a white woman with a safe home, a 7:30-4 job, and a financial safety net. It is difficult and it hurts me that I don’t work harder to push myself past my privilege.

But I have been investigating multiple options to help challenge myself and I’d like to share them with you. First, I plan to attend the MCU Sacred Conversations on Race & Action meeting on January 25. Second, the Ethical Society is hosting Mother 2 Mother: A Conversation with Black Mothers about “the Talk” with their Black Sons. This event will take place on Tuesday, February 10 at 6pm in this very room. I encourage all of you to join me as these courageous St. Louis mothers share their personal experiences of day-to-day life trying to protect their children. Third, I hope to take part in the Witnessing Whiteness program through the YWCA. I recognize that none of these events and workshops will challenge me the same way a person of color is challenged every day but I hope that they will continue to open my eyes to all facets of the world around me and of the many ways that I can help.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions about any of these meetings and I encourage you to attend the Ethical End Racism meetings on the first Sunday of every month in the Leader’s office for more ways to be involved. Thank you.