It has taken me some time to integrate all that has happened in our country over the past few weeks with the police killings of persons of color and the resulting protests, violence, and social justice uprisings.
I have spent past week thinking through my thoughts, examining my feelings, and listening to what most wants to be shared through me. I have been reflecting deeply on the contribution I wish to make to this important cause.
I made a choice to WAIT before writing in part because I choose to NOT to lead not from a place of frenzied self-righteousness which often tends to be covertly embedded in one’s own need to be seen as “not a racist”.
As a white person, If there is any one thing that I am CONTINUING to learn about racism and about becoming a part of the SOLUTION rather than the problem—it is that all too often well meaning white people (like me!) who consider themselves to be “anit-racist” end up saying things that contribute further to the problem rather than actually making it better.
This often happens as a result of speaking out impulsively, and usually out of our own unconscious needs and wounds all the while thinking our words are helping a cause but failing to realize that we are actually causing further harm.
I have also been spending time further educating myself about how I as a white person can become an effective part of the SOLUTION to ending racial injustice.
Speaking out against it is ONE part of the puzzle.
And ONE of the things I have also learned as a white person deeply wanting to be a part of the SOLUTION to ending racial injustice, is that there ARE times when it is OK ---and even RECOMMENDED by those far more well versed in this territory than me--- to WAIT for a period of time before speaking out.
The KEY words here are “FOR A PERIOD OF TIME”. I am NOT suggesting its OK to stay silent indefinitely.
⏳To allow TIME to think through your thoughts and reactions.
⏳To allow TIME to process your own feelings, personal wounding and to resolve your own racial triggers before speaking.
⏳To allow TIME so that you can EDUCATE yourself first so that you can respond in a HELPFUL way.
And AFTER you do this, THEN YES SPEAK OUT-- and do your absolute best to make sure that the thing you say is going to be HELPFUL to the issue and not another unconscious or unintentional micro-aggression which only further adds to the pain.
I will be the first to admit that I have messed up on this probably more times than I care to admit or than I am even aware of. If you are a white person reading this then the same is probably true for you.
And THIS is a big part of the PROBLEM!
Most of us still have a LONG way to go in this arena. But what I know is that I can commit to starting TODAY while accepting that more mistakes will be made along the way.
The best I can do is BEGIN…..
So I am here TODAY ready to take the TIME to speak out.
I have spent some TIME educating myself further about race, racism, persons of color, my own witnesses, my white privilege, how that has served me and how it has negatively impacted persons of color.
I have felt and confronted some my own FEARS about speaking out—will I get attacked? What do I say? Does it even matter?
I have confronted and felt my own feelings of helplessness and powerlessness about this issue—it feels too big too overwhelming so why bother?
I have felt and confronted my own laziness and acknowledged the temptation to just bail out and not say anything at all—ever.
I have done some of inner work around all this and NOW it is time to SPEAK.
So….here’s where I feel called to begin:
1. Racial injustice is wrong. No person should be treated differently merely because of the color of their skin. What has happened to persons of color for decade and generations and what is continuing to happen to their families, communities and children is wrong and must stop.
2. To my friends of COLOR: I stand with you and for you. I see you. I feel your pain. What has happened to you and what continues to happen to you is wrong and must change. You deserve better. You deserve to live and walk in a world without FEAR or INJUSTICE just because of the color of your skin. Your life matters. You matter. And I love you.
3. The problem of racism is complex, the solution even more so. As a white person I have enjoyed numerous unspoken privileges and benefited from entire SYSTEMS that were inherently designed to serve people like me while oppressing others. It’s TIME to change these SYSTEMS of OPPRESSION and not just the individuals within them.
4. I want to be a part of the SOLUTION. I do not want to be an addition to the problem.
5. To be a part of the SOLUTION I must educate myself more about race, racism, racial injustice, social change, and learn how to most effectively participate in becoming a part of the solution while not inadvertently adding to the problem. I must also support and donate to organizations that are working towards creating systemic social change and advocating for racial justice.
6. It is not the responsibility of my black and brown friends to educate me. It is not their job to care take my feelings or emotions about how I feel about racial injustice. It is NOT their job to make it “safe” for me to speak out. These things are MY responsibility.
SPECIFICALLY TO MY WHITE FRIENDS READING THIS:
7. Just because we may have experienced what we white people call “reversed racism” at some point in our lives does not mean that we are not part of the problem:
❌It does not mean that we are not racist.
❌It does not mean that we can avoid confronting our own whiteness and the inherent privileges we enjoy because of it.
❌Just because we may also at one point or another felt discriminated against or oppressed is not an exemption from the responsibility we have as white people to actively become a part of the solution to ending the racial injustice against persons of color. Being the victim of one form of oppression does not automatically exempt us from being a part of another form.
❌Just because you may have a black friend, or because your spouse is black, or your child is black, or because you were black in a past life—does not mean you get a get out of jail free pass.
❌If you’re a member of the dominant white culture you are not exempt for any reason. Sorry. No hall passes.
8. When a white person in all genuineness and with heartfelt anti-racist sentiment says to a person of color “ I don’t see COLOR”-- THIS is an example of saying something that we think is helpful but that actually contributes to the problem (as discussed above).
I am certain that I have said something to this effect to a person of color at some point in my life. It’s likely that you have too. I get that what you are trying to say is that you don’t want to be a part of the problem, and that you don’t judge people by the color of their skin……
BUT—and this is really important-- what you are ACTUALLY saying is:
“I cannot see your COLOR because I cannot see my OWN.”
“I cannot see your blackness, your brownness, your COLOR and all the ways your COLOR has impacted YOU because I have never taken the TIME to see my own WHITENESS and all the ways it has impacted and served ME”.
When you tell a person of color that you “do not see color” what you are really saying is:
⏱"I have never taken the TIME to UNDERSTAND how my whiteness endows me with privileges that you, your children and your ancestors have NEVER known due ONLY to the mere fact that I am WHITE and for no other reason that because of the fact that I am WHITE.
⏱“I have never taken the TIME to acknowledge or admit even to myself that the PRIVILEGES I enjoy without question are not due to my merits, my hard work, or my character. I enjoy them because I am WHITE and for no other reason”.
So when you say to a person of color that you “don’t see their color” what you are actually saying is:
“I don’t see YOU”.
You are saying that you have not CARED enough to see THEM because you have not taken the TIME or done the PAINFUL WORK of seeing your OWN WHITENESS and acknowledging the privileges that come with being WHITE and how those privileges have SERVED you at the expense of others.
So if you are a white person reading this, and you feel uncertain as of how to speak up, of where to begin the conversation, if you feel helpless, powerless to make any real contribution to ending racial injustice in our country, frustrated or scared to take the first step--then I invite you to BEGIN the conversation and to start by taking the TIME:
⌚️Take TIME to learn about your own WHITENESS and what it means to be WHITE.
⌚️Take TIME to seek out resources and educate yourself about your white racial identity and your white privilege—what it is, how it serves you in ways you have never considered.
⌚️Take the TIME to understand how those privileges that you so effortlessly enjoy merely due to your being WHITE have negatively impacted your friends of color.
⌚️And if you think that racism or white privilege does not exist or is a thing of the past –please don’t say that out loud and instead take the TIME to educate yourself—(a few resources are provided in the postscript of this blog post.)
⌚️Take TIME to learn FIRST to see your OWN COLOR so that you can begin to see theirs.
⌚️Take the TIME to use your VOICE in the way YOU feel called and in a way so that you become a part of the solution and not another part of the problem.
⌚️Take the TIME but just don’t take forever. Do it now. Do it today.
⌚️And THEN take the TIME to take action and speak out.
⌚️The TIME Is NOW.
9. This is my small contribution. And I am sure I will make many mistakes along the way but that is a risk I am willing to take to create change.
I cannot do it all. I cannot conquer all pieces of the puzzle. I cannot solve the entirety of the problem. And that is not mine to solve anyway. All I can do is to start where I am at. And I hope you will do the same.
Consider this your INVITATION.
Morgan Susan Taylor, MA
P.S. For my white friends reading this-- If you are still stymied by the idea of examining your own white racial identity or feeling confused about white privilege actually still being a thing here’s a wonderful place to begin to educate yourself about both:
1. Read the article “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh here
2. Watch the documentary “13th” available now on Netflix.
3. Watch the short series "When they See Us" available now on Netflix
4. Talk about what it means to be white with other white people who are also taking the TIME to learn and educate themselves about race and racism.
PPS: For my friends of color reading this: Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Please know I am doing my absolute best to learn and grow and do better. I know will make many mistakes along the way and for that I apologize in advance. I will do my best to continue to work to see you, hear you, and to stand with you and for you in creating change for a more socially just society.
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Dr. Bettty Martin is a former Chiropractor, and is currently a sex and touch coach, and certified Cuddle Party facilitator in Seattle, WA.