For the past several days, news stories about the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and protests against racial injustice and police brutality have spread across the US and beyond. This is not the first time in my life that stories such as this have made headlines. Unfortunately, it may not be the last. As usual, I get uncomfortable hearing them. It saddens me deeply to hear that another black person lost his life for absolutely no reason. Stories of looting and violence preempt normally scheduled television programming. Scared and uncomfortable, I turn off the television.
As usual, I run through my mental checklist about my concept of racism that goes something like this: Am I racist? … of course not. I am kind to everyone I meet. I look all people in the eye when I speak to them. I decide who I want as a friend, based on my observation of a person’s character, not her skin color. I’m good. I will just stay quiet for a while until this blows over.
I check social media. Several posts make me uncomfortable yet again. While I don’t remember the actual comments posted, what my brain perceives is: “If you make no comment on the situation, you are racist. If you do nothing, you are racist. If you are silent, you are racist.”
Now I am even more uncomfortable. Is this accurate? Am I, in fact, racist? And if I am, what can I do about it? I let myself sit with these uncomfortable white fragility feelings for the day.
Am I racist? I thought I wasn’t. I don’t want to be racist. What can I do? Please guide me. Thank You for humility. Thank You for the willingness to deepen my understanding of the definition of racism.
Well, let’s say you look at racism as a scale. Would you be willing to explore where you are on the scale? Having awareness of your ignorance is a good place to start. I love your willingness to be uncomfortable, as well. Let’s do the work.
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