Shorty and Skid Row continue to teach me about white privilege

View this post on Instagram

Since I’ve been reporting in Skid Row, I’ve been working w/ Shorty to achieve the tools necessary to receive her rightful CARES Act check & change her situation.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Homelessness is destructive in its ability to keep one on the treadmill; to plunder one’s energy and redirect it: toward immediate safety & possession protection, toward accessing food, water, a place to use the bathroom, a tarp to keep off the rain.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ But as I’ve witnessed, those aren’t the only challenges. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Yesterday, when Shorty & I were doing errands — going to check her mail, attempting to sign her up for various programs, to retrieve an ID — I was well aware that I was getting a different response than she typically does, trying to execute these seemingly simple tasks alone. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ While waiting in line, she looked at me. “When I’m with you, suddenly doors are open,” she said.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ In my shame & embarrassment, I said something stupid: “There’s power in numbers,” But Shorty, ever sharp & perceptive, corrected me. “No,” she said, running a finger down the white skin of my arm. “It’s this.” ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ As Minneapolis and the country suffers yet another tragedy this week, mourning— to quote Ta-Nehisi Coates — the way that racism reduces to violence landing on the black body, I’ve been thinking about my time in Skid Row. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ There, as one of the few white people around, I operate under a completely different standard; held to a different set of rules, even if I don’t always recognize it in the moment — the very definition of privilege. When the cops roll through, they see me differently; friends have kidded about handing me their beers should trouble arise. It’s a joke, but it’s not.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ But my experiences w/ Shorty have reminded me, viscerally, that physical force isn’t the only violence that lands on the black body. That the systematic distrust, dismissal & rebuke of POCs serve to bring individuals down & keep them there. That doesn’t always equal death, but it certainly impacts life. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ I am learning every day: to acknowledge my own privilege, to use it for change; to see my own failure to do so & all the ways I feed into this broken system. I promise to keep trying. ❤️

A post shared by Amelia Rayno (@ameliarayno) on

2 thoughts on “Shorty and Skid Row continue to teach me about white privilege

Leave a Reply