I’ve just finished reading a blog post about race.
Wait! Before you roll your eyes and move along to something else you’d rather read, I have a confession to make.
I read articles and blog posts every day about race. That’s not my confession, but I just need to frame my admission so you understand the full effect.
As a white parent of a black child and a member of humanity, I take my responsibilities to her and them very seriously. I do whatever I can to learn as much as I can about racism and to understand what being black is “really” like, if there is such an explanation.
I cannot give my daughter “blackness” (I apologize if that term offends some) because I know nothing about being a person of colour and how those differences play out in my daily existence. I’ve come to feel that I don’t just owe my daughter my support and understanding; I owe it to all of the men and women who deal with racism. So I read and learn. I keep my mind and my heart open.
When this particular blog post was shared in a trans-racial adoptive families group that I belong to, I opened it with the same curiosity and interest I do with most articles about race.
Except this one was different.
Not in the content – oh no. Sadly, I’ve read many posts about micro-aggressions similar to this one, and even worse, more overt racist words and actions.
Nor was the writing or the author different than others I’ve read. Some posts are angry, outraged bursts of indignation – as they should be. Some posts are sad, quiet, introspective pleadings for change – also as they should be.
This post was different because it caused me to have an epiphany:
Twenty years ago, I would not have understood what the problem was in the situation that the man encountered at the cafe. I might not have even read the post, but if I had, I certainly would have dismissed it with a casual “that’s HIS interpretation of what happened” in the same dismissive way you invalidate your partner’s feelings during a fight by saying “Well, that’s YOUR opinion!” AND I STILL WOULD NOT HAVE CALLED MYSELF RACIST.
That’s called white privilege, for those who don’t recognize it. It’s not something I’m proud of, yet society raises most white people with a blanket of blindness to their own privilege and ignorance. I still have so much to learn and understand.
Now, I share this confession with you not because I’m looking to pat myself on the back in a “look how far I’ve come in my racial awareness” way, but because after I finished reading the post, I realized that so many other people will read it and have the same reaction that I would have had 20 years ago. Some of them even left comments saying so.
So what is my goal here?
I guess if I can encourage even ONE person to look at their own responses and recognize their own white privilege and see past it to validate someone else’s experience, even if they have never experienced something like it themselves, I’ve accomplished something.
Go ahead and laugh. Mock me, if you want. I still won’t give up on the concept that one day, hopefully in my daughter’s lifetime, we will live in a world where people are not judged by race, gender or sexual orientation.
“I don’t want to become a hashtag.”
This line from the post slayed me.
How many white people worry about that?
Awareness is the first step towards change.