I don’t talk about race much. (Or other touchy hot topics.)
Um, for two main reasons:
1. I’m a scaredy cat who hates confrontation. I am super anxious to put my .02 in and get back $4 worth of shouty asswagon carting around their load of crap.
2. I’m white. And as I become more aware of my own privilege I can see that we can be really insensitive while doing what we think is good work.
So let me address those.
I am working on being bolder. And as I do so I can try in my small way to be a point of light. But the truth is that it is an indication of one of the advantages that comes from being white in America that I am able to decide to not have confrontations about race. Not even to think about race at all. People of color don’t get to do that.
Unless maybe they unplug from all forms of media and go sit on a mountaintop somewhere away from humans. Mostly the white ones.
How incredibly lucky I am to have that option. I live in a small, conservative, mostly white town. This means that in order to interact with people who don’t look almost exactly like me, I have to actively seek them out. Which feels a little weird to me, to be honest. Luckily the internet is a much more vast and diverse place. I don’t have to go as far (or overcome quite as much social anxiety) to find diversity.
Although I didn’t march this weekend, I was incredibly moved by the words and images of the Women’s Marches around the country and around the globe.
One thing I have learned in recent times is that we need to listen to people when they try to tell you what it’s like to be their type of person.
So when my friend who is Korean and is very informed and active about equality and racism posted a picture and articles about how people of color are marginalized even in marches and rallies that are touted as inclusive, it is my job as an ally to listen to her and hear her and look at my own perceptions and behaviors with as little of my own filters as I can manage. To listen to her words and the words of others recounting their experiences as people of color in a whitecentric society and not judge them as somehow overreacting or bringing race into everything.
Try really hard not to get defensive when you find out that maybe you could do better at your activism as an ally.
My friend who posted the picture and articles was accused of being racist by an angry white lady all through the comments on her post. She also tried to band together with me as a fellow white person being hated for the color of our skin. Which we weren’t. At all. Ever.
Once she realized…something…she deleted all her ridiculous and hateful comments and ran for the hills.
Only to do it all again the next day. Including, again, the “Dirty Deleting.”
Sometime in the second batch, my friend tagged in a page on Facebook.
This is a page that will, among other ally actions, step in and take over explaining/arguing with bigots about racism so people of color don’t always have to explain their position to people who create, minimize, or disbelieve that position.
It’s made up of white people who are trying to dismantle racism from the privileged side while not excluding or belittling those they are trying to help.
This is what I was looking for. I’ve been feeling called…but hadn’t found the thing(s).
If I am quiet because a conversation with a bigot makes me uncomfortable, then I am choosing my own comfort over the lives and safety of my friends and family and brothers and sisters who systematically suffer from the effects of racism and bigotry.
From now on, I will try very much harder to choose discomfort. As one of the leaders of White Nonsense Roundup said in a podcast I listened to this morning, “An uncomfortable conversation won’t kill you. You know what might kill you? Racism.”