5.31.2020

I'm White and I'm Getting it Wrong, but I Don't Want to be Silent Anymore



America is suffering right now. Black America is suffering more. The death of George Floyd and those who came before him is heartbreaking. His life was sacred. He was wonderfully and intentionally created and his life was stolen from him while onlookers did nothing. He died scared and alone at the hands of someone who failed to see the fullness of his humanity.


Like most children, I was raised to love everyone regardless of their physical appearance. Race has never been a determining factor to me in befriending and loving someone. However, as I've begun learning these last few years- it's not enough to befriend someone of color. It's not enough to say you love someone and yet remain silent regarding the institutions that oppress them.


The more I learn the vocabulary of anti-racism and the more I understand the historic legacy of racial discrimination in this country, the more ignorant I feel. The more I know, the less I feel I have the right words.


I am someone who strives to be open-hearted. Someone who does the right thing and someone who wants to leave the world better than I found it. I am also someone who lives in a small town that is 90% white. I am someone who was educated in a school district that had an even smaller minority population.


I can say that I love and support my Black friends and neighbors. But the truth of the matter is that this isn't enough anymore. And the fact that my upbringing has been so starkly WHITE means that I have some unconscious biases that I need to dismantle and contend with.


For many years I've dreamed of adopting a child from East Africa, the place I fell in love with over a decade ago.  But recently, I've really had to examine my motivations and challenge myself to answer the question of whether I truly know how to parent a black child in this day and age. My desire hasn't dissipated, but I have some serious work to do.


When I remain silent, it is not because I don't see the injustice. It is not because I don't empathize with Black mothers whose babies are being murdered. It is because I don't have the words. I don't want to get it wrong and I don't want to inflict more hurt because of my own ignorance. However, I read something recently that convicted me- my fear of getting it wrong is about ME. And nothing about what is happening in our country right now is about me.


I'll leave my stream of consciousness with this- I am learning. I am reading and listening to voices far more knowledgeable and important than my own. Please don't misunderstand my silence as complicity, but humility as I come to terms with the reality of the laws and institutions that have actively benefited me for my entire life while harming and oppressing my neighbors of a different skin tone.


I'm getting it wrong, but I don't want to be silent anymore.


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