Share this post:

“The heartbeat of racism is denial. And the sound of that heartbeat is “I’m not racist.”
– Ibram X. Kendi

Last week, I shared my experience of realizing that I am, if not overtly, at least to some degree a racist. I understand the word is fraught. I used it deliberately to shine a light on the often deeply buried biases that we all have. I haven’t understood how deeply being white affects my world view in unacknowledged, even unrecognized ways. (Listen to the Linkedin Live here)

Awareness precipitates choice, or at least it should. Having caught a glimpse of my blind spot what was I going to do? I needed to change. I needed to write and talk about it, even if I do so clumsily, to make myself accountable for it.

I received feedback.

Some of it was impolite, some kindly encouraging. I won’t recap either of those polarities here. But in the interest of accountability, there are some perspectives that I want to share. I hear them; I want you to hear them too.

“This is a start. But I have to be honest, as a Black woman it is hard to read. Your awareness – or lack thereof – is not my problem. Do the work. What I can honor is when you put money behind what you are doing…especially when it's uncomfortable, because it means you want to see change…”

“As a Black woman, daily interactions with racism (passive and aggressive) amount to death by a thousand cuts.”

“Our revelations are painful to Black people,” said Angela Blanchard, an expert practitioner in community development. But she then said, “That moment when you realize what you didn't do, when you are sorry for what you didn't know, this is sacred ground, a place where you decide what you will do going forward.”

“Thank you for using your voice to acknowledge, and take ownership of what you do and do not know.”

Several of you suggested I study the work of Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility; I’ve ordered her book, and watched numerous videos; you can listen to her here and here.

I'm also listening to and learning from:

Yesterday's #ShareTheMicNow Instagram takeover
LinkedIn Post from Elsie Akinsanya
LinkedIn Post from Ruchika Tulshyan
Instagram Post from Danielle Coke (@ohhappydani)
Instagram Post from Gloria Atanmo (@glographics)
Instagram Post from Andréa Ranae (@andrearanaej)
Conversation with Voddie Baucham on Social Justice
All In Podcast – Zandra Vranes of “Sistas In Zion” and Laurel Christensen Day: Racism In the Church

A key takeaway for me is this–––

Big a-ha moments are often followed by a desire to get things fixed, to want them to be better right now. If I can put a band-aid on it, the pain will go away. But we shouldn’t be too quick to bandage ourselves. Be willing to feel some pain for a while. Identity freefall, uncertainty, insecurity, and discomfort can help us stick to change rather than defaulting to habit.

So my near-term action item is to not fix, but to listen, to be open to feedback. Dr. DiAngelo once asked the question in a multi-racial environment, “What would happen if when white people ran their racism, you could give us feedback and we were to receive it with grace?” The response, “It would be revolutionary.”

Listen.
Without discounting.
Without withdrawing.
Without defending.
Listen.

Said Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, “The road to healing must begin with respectful but honest and deep conversations, not judgments, about who we were, who we are and who we want to become. Let us talk with, not at, each other — in our homes, schools, workplaces and places of worship. And if we are to make progress, let us vow to check the language of recrimination at the door…..What will each of you do? What is your question about the impact of race? What will you do to find answers?”

Our podcast this week is a timely interview with Dr. Greg Haile, president of Broward College (thank you to Ralph Campbell for making this introduction). I’ve learned from Greg’s experience and hope you will listen and learn too.

My best,
Whitney

Share this post: