Ask anyone with a teenage son to imagine their 17-year old child running home from the store in the rain with a bag of snacks and being followed and and eventually chased by a stranger. Imagine the pursuer is 10 years older, 20 pounds heavier, armed with a weapon and deems your child a threat because he ‘doesn’t belong’.
Then imagine the last few minutes of your son’s life wherein he is hunted like an animal--and according to the murderers’ own admission--shot at close range and imagine trying to understand how your son—who possessed only skittles and a drink—is perceived to be dangerous enough to kill.
Then imagine (if you can bear it) listening to the 911 recordings wherein your son’s voice can be heard in the background begging for mercy and knowing that these sounds are the last noises he made--and ones that will haunt you for eternity.
And then go one step further. Imagine witnessing the cavalier behavior of law enforcement who demonstrate through every action, a blatant disregard for your child’s life and instead confirms, supports and sanctions the actions of the murderer--a man with a criminal record and a volatile past.
As if all of this isn’t enough, imagine the grief that descends upon you when it appears your son’s death matters less, because of his race. And after compassion fatigue settles in, his character is questioned and memory sullied because he may (or may not) have stolen a piece of jewelry in school—as if this somehow justifies murder.
Truthfully, I cannot imagine my community allowing my son’s murder to go uninvestigated or unpunished nor can I actually conjure the details of this nightmare because the system that allows the above scenario to occur is one that generally works in my favor. In fact, without hesitation I can safely say, these things don't happen to people like me.
And it is for these reasons that the “White Privilege Pop Quiz: The Test You Can’t Fail” was posted on line last week--which has thus far been taken by over 4200 people.
The quiz is merely a mirror that reflects how internalized racial biases and fears prevent those classified as white from recognizing, understanding--and ultimately perpetuating--inequities in education, health care, criminal justice and perhaps even premature death--as in the case of Trayvon Martin.
What is key to remember in taking the quiz is that 'being white' is not a problem per se but rather, it is unexamined ‘whiteness’ and what 'whiteness' means in our culture that is problematic and calls for diagnosis and a healthy dose of honesty.
With head up and heart open, hold the mirror and take the quiz. Take it for Trayvon Martin. Take it for your neighborhood and community. Take it for yourself. What have you got to lose but a few unacknowledged biases?
And once you’ve taken the quiz, share it with friends, family, church members, and co-workers and ask them to take it. Hold a community dialog or a conversation in the break room at the office.
Who knows the potential outcome if one million Americans took The White Privilege Pop Quiz: The Test You Can't Fail?
Perhaps with imagination and reflection, we will become one of the active ingredients in the desperately needed prescription for racial healing.
Molly Secours is a writer/filmmaker/speaker living in Nashville TN http://www.mollysecours.com