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:
Photo: Susan Bang Photography
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.