I’ve been grappling these past 2 weeks with what to do and what to say. I have wanted to take action. I thought about making a public statement, turning my Facebook profile black, or making a donation. None of it seemed like the right thing to do for me.
I grew up in a small city made up of mostly middle class, mostly white people. I was brought up to believe in equality for everyone. There was no name-calling or derogatory words used at my dinner table. I learned about slavery, MLK, and the civil rights movement in history class, and when I went home after a lesson, my parents reinforced their belief that everyone was equal.
I went off to college surrounded by white people, went to work surrounded by white people, always believing that everyone was equal.
I remember a time when I was in my twenties, I was out with friends. We were on a subway in Boston when one of the friends made a subtle racial joke. I remember how uncomfortable it made me feel. I remember wanting to say something. I didn’t.
I have not been able to watch the video of George Floyd’s murder because the images alone are enough and stay etched in my mind. I can’t stomach the idea of any person of any race, gender or otherwise being murdered at the hands of another.
I thought that because I believed in equality, and I had empathy that I wasn’t racist.
The truth is, I have racial bias, most of us do.
This Tedx Talk by Valerie Alexander is a powerful conversation about our unconscious bias. She gives real examples that force us to see how irrefutable our unconscious bias is. She discusses the brain science behind it, and what we can do to change it.
It has been difficult for me to admit my racial bias because racial bias is the engine that keeps racism alive, and that would mean that I am a contributor.
I now understand it’s my responsibility as a white person of privilege to speak up when someone makes a racial joke, to be more vocal about my beliefs, to be consciously aware when my racial bias creeps in and shift it, to be open to difficult conversations, and to get comfortable when those conversations are uncomfortable.
Here are some of the resources that are educating me:
What books, blogs, articles, and podcasts do you suggest.
What will you do to be the change?
Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash