As you know, we have taken some time off to give those whose voices are usually marginalized the space to speak as well as to give ourselves the time to listen and learn about the current issues facing our country and the world. I didn't want to just come right back to posting our regular content without addressing first the issue at hand and what I have done over the past two weeks. I will preface this by saying that I have dreaded writing this post, because the topic is so loaded and every time I think I get a handle on how I feel and what I think needs to be done, something else happens that sends me spinning. I also want to acknowledge that my judgement and understanding of the issue at hand is viewed through my individual lens as a white woman and that no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to fully understand the lived experience of a person of color. Therefore, this is my attempt at discussing my process and what I believe to be true so that it may help others go through their own process. It is in no way a lesson on what is correct or what is not. All I ask is that you read this with an open mind, and heart.
First and foremost, I want to say that I have always believed that black lives matter and on that point I hope we all agree. I also believe that what we as a society have done up to this point has not been effective enough in order to create the change that needs to happen in our country regarding issues of race, and we need to try something different. Unfortunately, it seems to me that our system as a whole is so messed up that it is going to take a lot of untangling to unravel the web that we have weaved. I know my limits and my capabilities and I am not able to figure out the solution to this on my own. I therefore just wanted to talk about what I did for the past few weeks and what my current thoughts are, which may evolve as I continue to grow and learn.
This has been my process…
I sought out black voices with large platforms who were discussing police brutality and racism in America. Within these voices I tried to find differing opinions as to what needed to be done, because spoiler alert, not all black people think and feel the same way, just like not all white people think and feel the same way. I also listened to white voices, especially those who had differing opinions than me because I really wanted to try to understand where they were coming from. I watched alllll the videos showing how brutal the police could be and I watched all the videos I could find on cops who were allies and who were trying to help people in sincere ways. I watched both conservative and liberal news channels to try to understand the middle ground and the differing points of view. I also listened to podcasts and watched documentaries and tv shows that discussed the topic of racism.
What I understood from all of this is that it's almost impossible to get straight facts anymore. Most people, regardless of what “side” they are on, are not totally truthful in what they post. I saw a lot of videos being cut to look like one thing when they were really something else. Now, I want to say that I do think a lot of people do this in order to push their agenda which they genuinely believe is the right thing. However, in my eyes you lose all credibility when you dont post the facts or try to skew things in order to get people on your “side”. This made it very hard for me to find a reliable source that I could go to, in order to find information as well as practical steps to take in order to help. So now my process is to go to one person and see what they are posting, then go to another person whom I know has a differing view to see what they are posting, then google the whole incident or "fact" being discussed, and look at multiple news reports and hopefully try to find a full, uncut video, or actual hard facts backed up by data, so that I can fully understand what happened. If I am being totally honest, its exhausting and makes me want to shut down and tune it all out, which then makes me feel incredibly guilty because I don't want to let down any black person who doesn't have the option to put this issue down and ignore it.
So I have come to this conclusion based on everything that I have seen and learned...
There is a lot of work that needs to be done socially and personally. I think first and foremost we all need to do our work by trying to understand what is happening and why. We need to look to the past in order to understand how we got where we are. We also need to try to develop a beginners mind and release all ideas about what we think is right and wrong. We need to listen to all people in order to learn, whether they agree with you or not, because even if you want to dismantle something you have to first understand it. We need to seriously do something about the news and how reporting is done today. News should report the facts and not be sensationalized to get ratings or pander to a specific group of people. The teacher in me also believes that we need educational programs that teach deconstruction of biases and compassion as well as programs that help teach young people from impoverished areas the skills they need to succeed. We need to figure out a way to demilitarize the police force in America, and also put training programs in place to teach them how to deconstruct their privilege and power. We need to be able to promote and celebrate good cops while also immediately removing any cops who have violated their oath to protect and serve all people.
We also need to look inside of ourselves. It is very easy to blame the system or other people for what is happening. However, we all need to take a hard look at ourselves to understand the subtle ways that we may be responsible for the current system and go about the work of changing it within us. This can show up in many different ways. Maybe you didn't say anything when you heard someone say something racially driven. Maybe you benefit from the system and therefore are resistant to changing it. Maybe you only listen to one type of news program, or maybe you don't discuss race with people who you know don't agree with you. Or maybe it's even deeper, and you have come to hate parts of yourself, making it more difficult to fully love others, which breeds more contempt and hate in the world. Whatever it is that you find inside of yourself that is contributing to the problem, please go about the work of healing it.
If you are interested in learning more, here are some resources that I found to be helpful in giving me some perspective. Brene Brown did an interview with Ibram X. Kendi on her podcast discussing how to be an anti-racist ( I also plan on getting his book) The 13th on Netflix is a documentary on how racism has prevailed in the United States since the abolition of slavery and why there are a disproportionate number of black people in prisons. Dear White People is a really great fictional tv series that does a great job of showing multiple perspectives on racism while also being funny and light. Washingtons Farwell: The founding fathers warning to future generations is a book I read awhile ago but is a fascinating look at George Washingtons last term in office and his farewell address, which gives a lot of perspective on how the two party system got started in America and why Washington said that it would lead to our downfall. Rachel Cargle also has a lot of resources on her instagram page on how to unlearn privilege and also how to productively effect change.
I hope you understand my sloppy attempt at trying to discuss this extremely difficult topic. I am open to any and all feedback and will listen to any ways that I might have offended, however I ask that you do so kindly in the spirit of teaching instead of trying to attack. For me, this is not the end of this topic and I am committed to continue learning and growing and I hope the same for you. I would love to hear about your process and what your thoughts are on this issue so please feel free to message me privately or post in the comments below.