Unbearable Whiteness

Spring forward: snowy morning in rockville, maryland.

Spring forward: snowy morning in rockville, maryland.

On this allegedly Spring day in March, we awoke at 4:44, packed up the Prius and drove through blizzard-like conditions to get to the Rockville Library to board the bus for the South. I had already taken down all of the snowflake decorations from the living room windows (and the kids did not wear their pajamas inside out); still, the snow greeted us this morning and – while treacherous and blinding – it was stunningly beautiful.

We are now zooming along I-95 South. In Virginia. Every time I enter this state, I feel like I leave my rights at the border. Yet, I have the luxury of knowing I can travel where I want, when I want, how I want. That’s what it means to be white in America.

I recognize this trip is my dream and not what my children might choose to do on their spring break, but at least we are all together with a bus full of fellow travelers and plenty of snacks. Yes, the wifi is slow, but we are comfortable.

We won’t be so comfortable when we hit Greensboro, North Carolina and come face to face with the lunch counter sit-ins. We live in gloriously diverse Silver Spring and my girls have always had a rainbow of friends and classmates. The fact that “once upon a time” you couldn’t sit down at a lunch counter because of the color of your skin is obscene. Once upon a time isn’t so long ago. My 75-year-old mom is on this trip and she can remember it all very clearly.

I know my kids will find forced segregation and discrimination in public accommodations bizarre and senseless. I hope they will begin to see the connections between slavery, the civil rights era, and the inequality that persists today. And ultimately, I hope they will begin to understand and resist white privilege.

Let the journey begin.

Julie Drizin, Silver Spring

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