The images of what greed can do fill the inches of my computer screen—white men willing to kill hundreds to find a little white rock, others willing to turn a blind eye to bloodshed to make a profit. Countries are war torn, children are forced to become murderers. Millions are homeless, refugees, starving, separated from their families. I can read in a book a thousand facts about poverty, slavery, abuse. I can watch a small Asian girl walk down the street with a white man in Thailand, knowing that before the night is over she will splay her legs to a man who paid another man some money, who doesn’t care that if her skin was a different shade she could be his daughter, or perhaps even his daughter’s daughter.
I can weep at injustice. I can pound my fists in rage. But it doesn’t change that fact that I will never really understand. At the end of the day, forever and always, I will always be white. American. Born within the safety of four sturdy walls, within my father’s salary, within health care, within education, within fifty broad states, within two oceans that separate me from real brutality, starvation, torture. I can travel across the ocean and step foot on soils soaked with the blood of what should never be, but my passport will always carry me back to those four sturdy walls, will always insulate me from what it means to be dark or untouchable or sold or cast off or eliminated without anyone to notice. I will close my computer, fold my book, stow away my passport. I will buy food in refrigerated aisles of supercenters bigger than an Indian village. I will drive a car without anyone else inside it. I will sleep in my own apartment, with three rooms of space for only me, with a mattress, and ten pairs of shoes. And most days I won’t think twice about any of it.
When I am sorrowful, my pittance of grief is a token, a child’s pebble in the face of solid mountains of injustice. I may long not to be white and ignorant and naïve, but to fully understand I would have to be born as one of them. And if I were born as one of them I would long to be within these four sturdy, American walls—if I could even think to imagine them. Two worlds. So diverse it would seem they could never exist within the same planet—yet somehow they do. Some of us work or buy our way into living like royalty, and some of us are born into rock quarries to live and die working off a five-dollar debt our grandfather owed.
So many things I will never, never understand. Never. But God forgive me if I fail to hurl my pebble as hard and ferociously as my feeble arm can at the rocky face of injustice. God help me.