To my fellow white folks, especially the “woke” ones.
Hey. Could we take a deep breath together? These have been a really rough, yet illuminating past couple of weeks. It’s horrifying — and necessary — to witness what’s (been) happening to our black and brown friends. It’s painful to acknowledge and sit with the truth of our complicity. And, I’m seeing a lot of ways in which white supremacy has infected us, even as we think we’re being “woke.”
Like many of you, I’ve been wondering what it means to show up as a good white person right now. Here are some questions I’ve been asking myself that I want to offer:
- In what ways am I trying to “prove” that I’m a good white person?
- Who am I trying to prove that to?
- Am I really ready to risk my fear of imperfection, my shame, my uncertainty for the lives of my human family?
White supremacy has convinced us that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to be anti-racist and if you’re not doing it exactly this way and proving it on social media, then you are obviously a bad white person. This kind of thinking causes us to center ourselves and reject those we deem inferior. (Sound familiar?)
White supremacy (and capitalism) tells us to look for the perfect, most efficient way to do anything.
But caring for each other and creating a world where we all have a right to breathe isn’t easy and it’s sure as hell not efficient.
It’s easy to dismiss (*ahem* unfriend) someone. And, what would it mean to be in community with someone who hasn’t “figured it out” yet? Can we sit with the discomfort — and often mind-boggling rage — that comes with friends and family who are unaware of their privilege and racism or even those who are explicitly racist?
It’s easy to post listicles of 75 ways to be antiracist. Yes, please, let’s keep sharing resources with each other. But, are we up for the challenge of doing the day-in, day-out of unlearning white supremacy over the course of a lifetime? Can we sit with the discomfort of knowing that even we, no matter how much think we know, haven’t figured it out yet either?
It’s uncomfortable, I know. But, let’s risk our comfort and fear of messing up — and let each other mess up. Otherwise, we will keep projecting our own feelings of inadequacy onto everyone else, which is actually just a manifestation of our white fragility and white guilt — and yet another way in which we let our egos get in the way of showing up in love. Love is far more powerful, fierce, and generative than our shame.
And, hell yeah, of course we feel inadequate. None of us can snap our fingers and magically fix this fucked-up racist country on our own. Self-reliance is yet another lie of white supremacy. We have to do this together and for each other. Let’s keep putting our bodies in the streets. Let’s keep learning and practicing together. Let’s keep listening.
Decolonizing our minds and hearts (and it requires both) is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a spiritual practice that asks for our love and attention and care everyday. Let’s keep showing up and keep doing the work in between now and the next video of police brutality — and beyond.