Not infrequently, I share things, say things, or write things that make people feel uncomfortable. Maybe sometimes they think about their discomfort. Sometimes they just want me to stop, or to shut up. I am unable to do that, most of the time. and believe it or not, I am restraining myself. Here are some of the things I get told (and what I think when I see or hear these comments):
- Not everything is about black and white, you know.
- Not for me, nor for you, my fellow white person. But if you were black or brown, your experience might tell you that absolutely all experience is different based on the melanin content of your skin. Every single inequity that I can think of leans against people of color and favors people with light skin.
- You are getting a bit obsessive about your cause. This is usually in response to a post about a white person who did something, or interacted with police, and I pose the query (which I am also asking myself,) "What would this look like if the person involved were black?"
- Racial justice is not a "cause" for me. The term "cause" is very limited in expressing how important this has become in my life. I don't do this, or think about it daily, just because I want to make the world better, and certainly not because I want to help "those people." I do this because my humanity depends on it. I do this because my life depends on it. I do this because my soul depends on it.
- Are you calling me a racist?!? or, I am not a racist!
- I am not calling you (or myself) a bad person. I am saying that we live in a society rooted in systematized racism. We white people benefit every day from the color of our skin, and we are very rarely aware of it. This system was created by white people. It is maintained by white people, intentionally and unintentionally. Anyone benefitting from this (ie, every white person in this country) who is not actively anti-racist and doing anti-racism work every day, is perpetuating racism. Does that mean you are a racist? You decide. (PS: I do call myself a racist, and I attend Racists Anonymous. More on that another time!)
- I really admire the work you do.
- Don't get me wrong, this is a nice thing to hear. But I still haven't figured out how to respond. I think about this stuff, read about it, write about it, and offer education to others about it because my soul depends on it. (see above.) I love hearing your appreciation, but I would be happiest if you begin your own self-examination, education, and discovery. I want you to be my companion on the journey, because you are my friend and I love you.