"I was quiet, but I was not blind." ~Jane Austen
I didn't know if I would write a post about racism. I wasn't sure I knew what to say. I have felt unprepared when asked what I think about all that is happening around the world as a result of Mr. Floyd's death by the hands of police.
Why? Because I don't want to give a wrong answer.
Logically I know what I believe is what I believe...and yet I struggle to sort through all the thoughts I have had or am having. I absolutely believe racism is alive and well. I have seen it for my self. I am certain I have reacted, thought or behaved in racist ways. And boy does it bug me to even write that. I don't want to be racist. I don't want anyone to think I am racist.
I don't want anyone to be racist.
In this time of unrest and protesting, I have been tempted to speak about all of my black friends...how close we are. How much I like them and I believe they like me. How I learn from them. I create scenarios almost as if I have gone on retreats with them and they teach me all about racism, and of course tell me I am different (in a good way) than all those 'other' white people.
It helps me feel better.
I want my black friends to tell me about every black person and how not to be racist...the history, the stories, the valuable lessons to be learned...and to speak for all who are black so I can be better! Even though I would never expect someone to ask me to speak on behalf of all Norwegians or Germans. I know minimal pieces of information for those cultures. I would also declare to the person asking, that I have had my own experiences and could never speak for anyone else. I could offer a general outline and give a quick review of lutefisk (not good...ever), dumplings (always good...especially with baked apples) and how I remember my great-grandmother trying to teach me to speak German;
and the importance of using Nair facial hair remover as
"We Germans have hairy faces".
(It's true. I shave...much better than facial burning!)
But remember, this is all about me. Yes, it is all about me! The white woman who wants to be better. Do better with regards to race. Never mind if you have actually experienced racism. Been the brunt to horrific name-calling or something far worse. Noticed the store security following you around in a store. No, I need you, my black friend, to teach me so I can speak out against racism and become one of the good ones! It's your job to make sure I understand.
I am ready! I am the student! So where do we begin?
And therein lies the problem.
I keep thinking I need more information before I can 'work on' racism. I create the illusion my black friends want to teach me. Have all the energy to take on one more thing. One more person. Speak for all black people. I cannot even begin to unravel things in my head like systemic racism,
housing inequality, and workplace discrimination.
Geez, I didn't even know about what happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma until recently. And yet, I place the responsibility onto people of color to make sure I am informed. I am understanding.
What else don't I know? What else can you teach me?
When I take a breath, because I am overwhelmed by my own whirlwind around racism, It hits me like the scene with Dorothy and Glenda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz, when Glenda tells Dorothy:
"You have had the power all along, my dear."
I have had the understanding all along.
We ALL want the same things. To be treated fairly. To have the same opportunities. To be loved. We ALL want to know we matter.
And so this is what I know...
We earn each other's love, friendship and respect.
We show up. We celebrate all that is to be celebrated, and we feel sad and mourn what is lost. We break bread. We laugh. We cry. We make mistakes. We learn and we listen. We treat each other with kindness.
And we do all this together.
Oh...I still have lots to learn...but that's on me.