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#12: Racism

Updated: Sep 18, 2021

Hi Folks,

I am overdue waving my flag to remind you all that I hope you are taking care of yourselves during this crazy period of time. I would love to Zoom with some of you if we can find a time to do so. My schedule is pretty flexible and I am stuck at home most of the time. Perhaps I will just put a Zoom invitation out there in the next couple of days and see who can show up.

James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

So what has been on my mind is the need for me to take a deeper look at the racism not just in our country, but in myself. I finished reading White Fragility by Robin Diangelo and it has hit home like a bomb going off. I encourage you to read it.

The gist of it is that there are assumptions I hold without even knowing it due to the conditioning I received as a child, not simply from my family, but from the culture at large. As Diangelo writes: “I didn’t choose this socialization, and it could not be avoided. But I am responsible for my role in it” (149).

Unrecognized assumptions are very dangerous, thus my encouraging you all to live an examined life, even when it is a painful experience. It is important to realize that we see the world through glasses that we did not choose. But that does not mean they don’t impact my behavior.

Here are some of those assumptions revealed in White Fragility:

  • I am free of racism.

  • My learning is finished; I know all I need to know.

  • Racism can only be intentional; my not having intended racism cancels out the impact of my behavior.

  • If I am a good person, I can’t be racist.

  • I have friends of color, so I can’t be racist.

Self-knowledge is often painful, but it is the bedrock of transformation. I can’t help change systems of oppression until I see how I am implicit in them.

As Angela Davis teaches: “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.”

Wisdom is always calling to us. Am I quiet enough to hear it? Are you?

To Becoming Anti-Racist


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