Hashtags are hard… In planning for my next twenty blog posts I wanted to create a hashtag to keep them organized and easy to find. The first several clever hashtags I came up with were already being used, and I really don’t want to hijack someone else’s, so I had to ask for help. Finally, Hayden and I came up with #OnceYouSeeRacism.

The past few weeks have been nothing short of exhausting and I say that in all seriousness. If what we are experiencing is exhausting to me, a white woman who feels safe in most places, imagine just how exhausted our black friends must be. They are grieving and hurting, scared and angry, and these experiences are nothing new to them. This exhaustion is built into their very existence. Recognizing that is part of being their friend. I want to be an ally to my black and brown friends.

What that means is that I use my personal platform for two things: 1. to let them know I am an ally and 2. to help spread the message of anti-racism.

I’m a words person… I had to look up the word ally

1. To place in a friendly association, as by treaty:
2. To unite or connect in a personal relationship, as in friendship or marriage:
3. One in helpful association with another:
As a human, I want to be an ally to people… not just people exactly like me, who believe exactly like me, who vote exactly like me, who worship exactly like me. I do not tailor my social media feeds to reflect myself back to me as I scroll. I can’t know what others are thinking, feeling, or experiencing if I don’t listen to them, and so I use social media as a way to hear them.
In my goal of being an ally, a friend, in helpful association with, I know that I can’t just sit back and do nothing. Being silent when something bad is happening is not helpful. If I sit back and watch a kid get beat up on the playground rather than get involved or go get help, I align myself with the bully. How horrible for the kid who got beat up to later find out I didn’t want to intervene because I didn’t want hurt the feelings of the bully?!?
That’s not far off from what we’re dealing with right now. Over the next 20 days, Mondays through Fridays, I’m going to post small, bite-sized content that I’ve found to be helpful in explaining various aspects of racism.
In no way at all should you think that I’m saying all police officers are bad. If you try to twist my words, I will delete your comments. This is my space and I am trying to educate those who want to learn. I can agree that most are good but I love Chris Rock’s thought on this: It’s like an airline saying that most of their pilots are good… they just have a few who like to crash into mountains. Suggesting that Americans should be okay with allowing the bad ones to remain on duty because most of the others are good is ridiculous. Imagine if we were talking about teachers… “Most are good, but some just like to physically assault students.” Not good enough. There are some fields in which standards must be above reproach. Last thought on this topic… wouldn’t you say that you want law enforcement to be an ally to all of us? To those in need? (Go back to read the definitions.) If you’re white you probably assume that’s what police officers are, at least, that’s what we’ve been taught and have taught our children. But that’s not the reality for our fellow Americans who are disproportionally harmed by law enforcement officers. That’s the end of that. Do not twist my words.
You may not be racist, but you can benefit from looking at each of these posts. If not for yourself, to share with a friend who is curious about these issues but overwhelmed with all that is on the internet. Likely, you’ll see yourself in some of the things I share (I did…) and you may realize that, without ever meaning to, you had behaved in a racist way. That’s painful to recognize… I spent a lot of time shaming myself when I recognized this in me, but that’s only helpful if I recognize it, change, and become an ally. You may see some you disagree with. If so, that’s fine. I don’t have to know about it. Believe me, I’ve probably seen your FB feed.
My goal over the next 20 days is to share the words and works of people of color (which means – anyone who isn’t white) because they are the voices that often get ignored. I want the content to be able to be consumed in about five minutes but I hope the reader processes that information and looks into other resources that go into deeper detail.
Someone recently said to us in a semi-accusatory tone, “You only care about this stuff because you adopted Anna.” Well, YES! Unfortunately! I am deeply saddened that it took adopting a child of color into our home to care about this. You don’t have to do that. You can commit to looking into this and decide to care about it… you should.
Here’s what prompted me to start this journey:

What is your “why?”

Once you see racism you can’t unsee it.
Once you see racism you have to act.
Once you see racism you are responsible.
Once you see racism you have to speak out.
Once you see racism you owe it to yourself to dig it out.
Once you see racism you owe it to American to eradicate it.
Once you see racism you must educate your children about it.
Once you see racism you will find your why.

Kathleen Johnson

About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
This entry was posted in #OnceYouSeeRacism, Racism/Race Issues. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to #OnceYouSeeRacism

  1. Janet says:

    Forgive my ignorance on this, as I do not consume news (or social media) on a consistent basis…I love Chris Rock’s thought you quoted, but I’m curious about this statement “Suggesting that Americans should be okay with allowing the bad ones to remain on duty because most of the others are good is ridiculous.” Are there people that are really suggesting that?

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Janet! My take on it is that many people are missing the point of the protests by claiming “not all police officers are bad so stop pointing out the bad ones.” Many people are angered (and rightly so) that good law enforcement officers are being lumped in with the bad ones, but the reason they’re being lumped in is because the system of policing we currently have protects the bad and the good. There are not strict enough disciplines in place for those who do harm others. Case in point: Derek Chauvin had 17 brutality complaints against him. He should have been gone long ago. What the marches and protests are hoping for is to have the system cleaned out, reorganized to be fair and safe. I’ll stop there because I’d rather not try to speak for anyone – my main goal is to point to those who are already doing the work and spreading the message.

      I heard another point: “It’s not fair to judge all cops by those who abuse their power.” Isn’t that what black people are saying regarding the number of black people being arrested incorrectly or with excessive force because they “look like a suspect?”
      I join in the cry: “Its not fair to judge all black people by a those who commit crimes.” Double standard.

      I certainly don’t want to be considered like “those” white people who are saying hateful and racist things… I would like to be treated based on my actions. People of color would like to be treated based on theirs. What the marches are saying is the cops should be treated based on theirs but as things stand, cops who abuse their power are routinely allowed to remain on the job and receive no punishment for their actions. {If airlines had the same standards, ALL people would be angry and demand massive changes. I will join my voice with my friends of color to demand massive changes in our policing system.}

      Hope that helps!

      • Janet Grider says:

        Thank you for the clarity…I think I initially read your statement thinking that was a voiced opinion, but I do see how not calling for change to the system that doesn’t take action to rid the police force of known offenders that in effect, it’s not so much being okay with it but more accurately, just indifferent to it.
        Blessings to your family & prayers for safe travels during the upcoming PCS!

  2. Leslie Eichelberger says:

    I love you so much!

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