It is not lost on me that I am a white male speaking when it’s not really my time to speak, but more my time to listen.
In light of that lesson, this is a message of humility from my heart to all of my white friends to give you an opportunity to learn from a mistake I made last week when I shared some of my thoughts and feelings publicly on racism.
I am still very much learning how to be a better ally to BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of colour) and so I apologize if I say anything offensive here.
I have been deeply humbled this last week and expect to continue to be humbled for the rest of my life on this topic particularly because I have an extremely limited perspective on what racism is really all about, but will continue to learn.
This is not a fad for me. This will be a lifelong growth process and I seek to inspire other white people to do the same because I personally want to live in a world free from racism and violence, whether I get to see it in my lifetime or not...the “good fight” must go on.
This isn’t about shaming or guilting white people either, even though these kinds of emotions will likely come up for us.
From one perspective, these emotions are certainly justified, for what our society has been, and still is doing to BIPOC is WRONG and we as white people DO need to look very closely how we are supporting it by *not* checking ourselves in a very honest way.
If you want to be a part of a greater change, it is not enough to post a black square on social media and then go back to your life as if that was enough. It is *not* enough.
We must engage in ongoing education on how we are born into a system that has racism as one of its multiple parasitic pillars that is designed to divide us as human beings in a spirit of *war* rather than a spirit of peace, love and unity.
This is what I began to learn after I shared my post when a girl commented that even though it was well-intended, there were some things in it that were racist towards BIPOC.
With my back up, I immediately questioned what she was talking about because I didn’t understand how someone who I didn’t even know could possibly suggest that I am racist.
“Perhaps she’s seeing something I’m not?” I was open to what she had to say, but I did feel offended and continued to hold onto my defences.
My ego rambled on, “I don’t want anyone thinking that I was racist, because that’s far from the truth,” I quabbled. “How can I be racist? I love all people just the same.”
In hindsight, I didn’t realize how thoughts like these have been giving me a very easy excuse to denounce my responsibility to actively do something about racism my entire life.
Because the truth is that if she hadn’t pointed this out to me, I wouldn’t have had the curiousity to do anything more in terms of educating myself on this topic.
In other words, the common assumption for white people is, “If I’m not racist then it’s not really my responsibility to do something about the racism in our world.”
Sound familiar?…This is where my humility began.
She gave me some resources to understand deeper. Despite my ongoing resistance, I started reading one of the books she recommended over the next three days called White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo.
I’m so happy I did.
DiAngelo is an American academic, lecturer, and author who’s work is essentially to help educate white people to understand that the tendency for us to become defensive when confronted with our racial advantage functions to protect and maintain that advantage.
This, of course, was mine and countless other white people’s mistake that I hope more of us begin to learn from.
I’m not going to go into detail on why this book is so important for white people to read because I deeply believe that those who truly want to affect positive change will take it upon themselves to humble their egos to realize and accept that not only WE (WHITE PEOPLE) CAN DO BETTER for our BIPOC brothers and sisters, but we MUST DO BETTER if we want to see real, long lasting change in our world.
This means taking it upon ourselves to connect and learn from the countless resources that have been seeking to educate white people for years. White Fragility is just one of them and I personally recommend starting there.
Let me be clear. This does not mean that you’re a bad person if you don’t do the work. Of course, these are very challenging times, and you may not have the mental capacity to take this on right now. That’s totally okay. You must take care of You first and foremost.
However, when and if you are ready, I invite you to engage in the work. Not because I or anyone else is telling you to do so, but because you will be making the decision to be a part of a change that is bigger than you, and that’s one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves, our children and all of humanity.
Stay safe out there, friends.
Love to all of you.