[This post is for my white friends. We are learning together. This time of convulsion is overwhelming and energizing, wrenching and combative. We are lucky to be here. These are the swells of change and we are doing it together. I’m always open for your thoughts.]
I was talking with a friend who is white today and she was disheartened. “So that was it? One week?” She was talking about her white friends’ Facebook feeds. It appeared to her that the solidarity with Black lives was basically over. I didn’t think that was the case, but I went on for my nightly scroll around and the cats and the pasta and the golf and the birthdays were everywhere. Those are all important things. New pets, a child’s birthday in pandemic, a bit of joy in a really challenging time. We need breaks. We need space. We need comfort and rejuvenation and affirmation in not normal times.
I want to gently nudge us to get back to it—to dismantling racism within ourselves and within our schools, neighborhoods, cities… I’d like to offer this space below for you to share what you’re thinking and what you’re learning. Maybe this feels like a great awakening and it’s too much of a change to post about it all the time. Maybe you are depressed seeing immense pain now that you didn’t see before. Maybe the internal work you’re doing is shocking and exhausting. Maybe you are afraid of making mistakes and saying the wrong things because you’ll be called out by people both more radical and more conservative.
And still, I gently nudge you to get back to it—to being uncomfortable and talking about it. You may gently nudge me back, too.
Right now I’m reading “Me and White Supremacy” by Layla F. Saad. She asks you to have a journal as a companion and write in it with each set of reflection questions. I decided I would reflect in my head. I don’t like to handwrite things. On one of the most recent lessons, she wrote to me directly on the page about white exceptionalism, “White exceptionalism is the little voice that convinces you that… because you have an intellectual understanding of the concepts being presented here, you do not have to diligently write out your responses to questions. That you can just think about it in your mind, and that is enough.”
It’s time to get out the journal because the journey is still beginning and it’s mostly inside me. Have you Googled about what defunding the police means, sat with your discomfort and questions about it, read about it from the Black activist’s lens? Are you in on what the Black wealth gap is about and how to fix it? We feel safe with police; We think reform is enough–why do we think these things?
“White exceptionalism is what convinces you that you don’t really need to do the work. That you are doing it because it is a commendable thing to do but that you do not have to dig as deep as you are being asked to go.”
We are being asked to go deep. The lives of our non-white friends and peers depend on it. And we will be more free ourselves.
Two upcoming dates to think on:
June 19 – Juneteenth. If you don’t know it, Google it. I only learned about it last year because 1) racism & historical erasure, and 2) lack of internal work.