Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Ancient White Proverb

Yesterday afternoon I followed a hashtag on Twitter that made me squirm. And I don't regret it.

"So where are you *from*?"

—Ancient White Proverb

"No, I mean where are you *REALLY* from?"

-- Ancient White Proverb

"You know, you're real pretty for a..."

—Ancient White Proverb

"Oh, I don't think of YOU that way, you're different."

—Ancient White Proverb

"It's not racist if it's a POSITIVE stereotype..."

—Ancient White Proverb

Go take a look for yourself. If you are white you will either be squirming like I was or perhaps you'll feel defensive and under attack. If you're a person of color you'll be nodding your head, I would think.

Now I haven't actually said any of these things but in a sense I have been all these things because I have been a white person in a culture set up for white people that assumes whiteness is the norm. My world view has been set up with all its planets and stars and constellations placed to reinforce that word view and for many years I was oblivious.

And now? I am in no way better than I ever was but, thanks to people in our community like Candace Dodson-Reed and Janelle Bruce, and many brave students in the Howard County Schools, the blindness I had to this is beginning to shift. It's cloudy, it's blurry, but it's shifting.

I was too sick to go the Speak Out Howard event last night at Howard Community College, but I followed along at home on Twitter. I hear it may have been taped so I hope to see that soon.

I fear that often white people hope that events concerning race will be "feel-good" events. And they don't respond well when facing the realities of what deeply entrenched racism looks like. We realize it looks like us. And that makes us uncomfortable. It makes us squirm. That can't be right. That can't be what Martin Luther King wanted, can it? Didn't he stand for peace and love and things that bring us all together?

"What would MLK do?"

-Ancient white proverb meaning "Can you please ask for rights in a nicer tone?"

I know so very little but at know enough that peace and love will not be arrived at without facing and immersing ourselves in the truth. White guilt or defensiveness does nothing. Willingness is a start. Coming again and again to the table and experiencing discomfort and acknowledging ignorance is the journey that I am on. I can't tell anyone else how to do that. I need nudging, and I need course-correction. Everyone does.

I'm grateful that I live in a community where people are willing to come together and keep pushing each other towards justice.

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