Seeing a Way Forward

I see you exhausted right now, wondering why you have to engage in this conversation, this movement, this plea again and again. I see you wondering when the white people are going to take notice, when they will show up. I see you shaking your head, albeit unsurprised, when those in power succeed in blocking your peaceful protests, simple gestures of solidarity, and your right to vote for change. I see you mourning the loss of lives because someone else was uncomfortable. I see you doing all this during a pandemic that is affecting the black and brown community worse than others, while educators of color also have to maintain a veil of professionalism to be paid less, work harder, and support students and staff who look like they do.

 

I also see myself as a white person, knowing I’m part of a racist system where I have privilege. I don’t have to see the thousands of ways people of color are marginalized daily. I don’t see many of those privileges even with the knowledge that they exist. I, and other white folx, must do better, to see these differences and work to change the system.

 

As you come back to work this week, it’s going to be a lot.

  • There will undoubtedly be some who condemn the protests, damage, and looting. Here is a potential way to talk about what we’re seeing nationally.
  • Maybe a co-worker will reveal their ignorance about exactly what has happened to make people so upset. This episode is a starting place.
  • A white staff member could express concerns about “reverse racism” or conversely how they are not a racist because they are a good person. This is an opportunity for white colleagues to take ownership educating for one another.
  • Perhaps a student will demonstrate some level of awareness about racial justice and be open to learning more. Here’s some language for starting that discussion, and this is framework to go deeper.
  • You might want to ask your black employee about how they’re feeling right now. This program will cover some of the effects current events could have on your team. If you are a supervisor, think about this.
  • Maybe you’re a person of color needing to get through it right now. These virtual mental health resources and ideas from activists for encouraging others could be helpful.

It will be a lot, and it should be a lot because people are dying. Your neighbors, students, co-workers, and friends can’t safely be their whole selves.

 

So even though us white people might think we’re all tired and busy, we must see the work that needs to be done. Educate yourself, patronize local businesses, donate, call government officials, talk to your family. Show up. It’s going to require all that and a lot more to produce change.  

 

As best-selling author Ijeoma Oluo said, “The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.”

 

Do you see it?

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