I spent a lot of time contemplating how to write this blog post. I’ve been stuck on being extremely worried about speaking out of turn, or offending people with differing views. Then I realized that’s the whole point of this. By not speaking out, I’m not allowing change to happen. It starts with conversations, questions, reading, and learning.
When the protests began a few weeks ago over the immense issue of police brutality against black people I felt my heart break once again. The past several years have continually gotten worse. How many times do we need this horrible loss of life to happen before we understand that something is fundamentally wrong?
My first emotion was sadness which then turned into anger. I decided that in order for myself to contribute to the conversation, I needed to learn some things first. Enter White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. This book was recommended numerous times on my Instagram feed. It felt like the right place to start.
White Fragility Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism dives into the deep rooted racism that has existed in this country for such a long time. The roots that were planted early on grew rapidly into what we have today.
It is white people’s responsibility to be less fragile; people of color don’t need to twist themselves into knots trying to navigate us as painlessly as possible.
I think the biggest issue that white people have is the sensitivity to being called out. Nobody likes to be wrong. Everybody denies racism. But why can’t we even have a conversation about it without the conversation being changed quickly? Why are we so scared to admit that we don’t understand that certain behaviors are inherently racist? Ignorance is not bliss.
The key to moving forward is what we do with our discomfort. We can use it as a door out—blame the messenger and disregard the message. Or we can use it as a door in by asking, Why does this unsettle me? What would it mean for me if this were true?
We may not realize that the way we act and speak reinforces racism. These repeated microaggressions don’t allow us to make a change in this world. We must be willing to feel extremely uncomfortable and learn. And guess what? You think you feeling slightly uncomfortable over a conversation on race is hard? Being oppressed, looked down upon, vehemently hated for years upon years is hard. As a white person I will never know the pain and struggles that a person of color has faced. The LEAST I can do is educate myself to prevent further ignorance.
I repeat: stopping our racist patterns must be more important than working to convince others that we don’t have them. We do have them, and people of color already know we have them; our efforts to prove otherwise are not convincing. An honest accounting of these patterns is no small task given the power of white fragility and white solidarity, but it is necessary.
I am strongly urging everyone to read this book as a place to start exploring the depths of racism in this country. I think it’s important to start with recognizing our own faults before we can fix the problem. Digging deep into self-reflection is so crucial. Learning to engage in discussions on racism more constructively is exactly what we all need to do.
Hoping and praying for change is not enough. We need to become educated and take action to stop these horrific deaths from happening.
I realized I read predominantly white women authors and I need to expand my reach. My goal moving forward is to continue to read and educate myself by reading more authors of color. I am not perfect by any means. I know I have contributed to racism in America due to my ignorance. It’s time to change that. Right now.