“I’m not racist.”
Lately the newest topic to bicker about instead of having real conversations about race on FB is of Colin Kaepernick’s decision to not stand for the national anthem. So this is about race and the fragility of acknowledging and confronting our insecurity of being racist.
My close friend said, “Honestly I think it’s important to acknowledge that we are all racist. We are raised in a world with subtle and not so subtle messages that being white is better and anything else is less than. I think to actually fight racism, you have to admit that you are racist.”
I couldn’t agree more.
I think our journey to educate each other and create a powerful and critical dialogue about our nation is just beginning.
Until we choose to listen to the oppressed and listen as long as they need. Until we offer ourselves up for very critical and vulnerable discussions and criticism to address such a socially-ingrained racism in micro ways and larger that’s controlled our nation, we are all still racist. I’m still privileged and they’re still oppressed and acknowledging this isn’t the fix, but the opening to find the solution.
Saying a few sets of three words doesn’t excuse you from this dialogue, its not a ticket out of the conversation. Certainly isn’t for black people .
I say this for myself and to everyone.
I used to be incredibly racist as a teenager because I was influenced by a boy I thought I loved who hung the Confederate flag in his bed. He had friends who were skinheads, but he also had friends who were black. That I think seemed to normalize our feelings because it wasn’t like we were the KKK. We weren’t that racist.
I was also influenced by my society. I was influenced by growing up in a largely white suburban town. Going to schools that had very small populations of POC.
I heard and regurgitated a lot of hate, and a lot of what I felt and said also didn’t seem quite bad, and a lot of it was mostly "harmless stereotypes". Like black people being dangerous, not as smart, loud, and lacked responsibility and didn’t earn society’s respect. Its not a nice part of my life at all and in fact it’s really really sad that it happened.
But it’s everywhere. It’s absolutely everywhere, and even I bought into it.
I’m saying this because I think it’s important to reflect about what being hugely misinformed feels like. What it feels like to realize you’ve got it all wrong, how it stings to be called out, and how bad the insecurity feels to have to admit you’re wrong.
I’ve been wrong more in my life then I’ve been right. I think a lot of us have to think about that, and what that feels like.
How can we disconnect ourselves from those feelings so that it’s easier to grow and have these difficult conversations?
I believe that we all have the capability of compassion to admit when were wrong and when we decide to listen, question ourselves, and be as vulnerable as possible to each other is when we can create the strongest bonds amongst ourselves.