Skin in the Game: A memoir of white privilege

Kimberly Garts Crum
8 min readJul 14, 2020
Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.~

It was early 2017. White nationalists seemed to be everywhere in the months following Donald Trump’s election, waving Confederate flags and proclaiming the USA is a White nation. All this in spite of Oprah and Obama. I felt the need to apologize. “I am so sorry,” I told my personal trainer, a Black woman. “Racism must have been here all along.” She was probably accustomed to liberals craving penance and seeking forgiveness. She did not respond to my confession, except to say I should go to the weight machine and wait for further instruction.

I am a 64-year old White liberal overeducated woman who has been a spectator to civil rights injustices for more than 50 years, observing it all from the safe seats. My first awareness of American racial inequity was when my father’s company moved us, after six years in Europe, to Memphis, Tennessee. The year was 1966.

From the back seat of the family car, I watched Black men, women and children toiling in cotton fields, as if reenacting a scene from Gone with the Wind. On lockers at my public school, I wondered at graffiti, “The South will Rise Again.” In the middle of the school year, my Yankee parents switched me to a girl’s Catholic school for reasons still unclear…

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Kimberly Garts Crum

Essayist. Teacher. Seeker. Editor. Writing Coach. Co-editor of the Landslide Lit(erary) publication on Medium