What do I hope to accomplish? Is this just another post conveniently centering myself? Am I Just “Whitesplaining” Racism? Why am I asking you?
Lately I’ve been challenging myself to figure out the point of actually writing posts for this blog. Then I read a post on Nanette Massey’s blog that wasn’t written about me specifically, but might as well have been. I’ve re-read a bunch of my writing and it all just seems to be about me. Obviously, this post is no exception. So, what’s the point?
Focusing My Thoughts
Writing forces me to research my opinions and helps me focus my thoughts. I don’t think very quickly on my feet. So, I mentally rehearse as many contingencies for almost every possible interaction in anticipation of future events. That may sound crazy, and maybe it is, but aside from costing me most of my sleep, it has been working for me. Discussing race is important and White people have their defenses at the tip of their tongues. So, writing out my thoughts and weaving in persuasive nuggets of insight helps me recall and defend those points in real life conversations.
Engaging In Conversation
I originally dove into the WordPress universe to learn, comment and grow. Eventually, I decided to express some thoughts on my own in the hopes that people would push back on those or offer insights that could lead to valuable discussions. To those of you that have commented, I must say THANK YOU! Seriously, you have no idea how humbled and appreciative I am that you’ve taken the time to comment. I wish I could say that I’ve been able to use the knowledge I’ve gained online to change the world, but I’m a bit of an introvert. However, I’ve absolutely had an influence on a few people already, I’m highly motivated and I’m not dead yet so, look out world.
White On White Conversation
I recognize that not one single thing I’ve ever posted is new or ground-breaking thought. The thing is, if White people listened to Black people about issues of race, there would be no more issues of race. So, if you’re Black and reading this, I wish there were a black power fist emoji to put right here, but I’ll just say thank you, I”m sorry, and I hear you. If you’re White and reading this, set aside your fragile defensive reactions and actively seek out and listen to as many Black people as you can. They’ve been on the receiving end of our whiteness longer than we’ve been recognizing its existence. In the meantime, I’ll try to use my whiteness to relay the messages. Which brings me to…
Amplifying Important Themes
Perhaps there’s value in simply adding my voice to the pile. I may simply be restating messages that have been repeated by others, but sometimes repetition is key to learning. If enough of us continue to speak up against racism and call out whiteness with all of it’s associated fragilities, supremacies, and privileges, then our collective voices may topple the walls of status quo. I don’t know… but remaining silent seems wrong. It’s also important to elevate the work of others. It shouldn’t just be about my interpretations as if my opinion is somehow more refined, targeted or sculpted in a magical way to reach people. The reality is just the opposite. So, it’s important that I not just express my own opinions, but that I do whatever I can to extend the reach of others as well.
I’m Selfish & Needy
Lastly, I 100% understand that I do not deserve a pat on the back for striving to be a decent human being. That should be the default. All too often White people want a cookie for “discovering” what we should have been doing all along. If I’m being completely honest, sometimes I do want that cookie. I know it’s wrong to make it about me, I know that’s so common as to be cliche. That awareness that I’ve been humble-bragging about my awareness instead of setting aside my own feelings is part of what prompted me to write this piece in the first place.
From Now On
Moving forward, I’m going to try to focus on amplifying the voices of others. Whether that’s sharing pieces from other blogs, reviewing books and movies or just re-framing and repeating messages that have had an impact on me. The goal will continue to be driving conversation and equipping myself for real world conversations and situations so that I can try to have a greater, measurable, impact. Opening minds, inspiring changes in behavior and supporting the success of people of color will be my reward.