What I’ve learned so far about White Supremacy is that it applies to and includes me. That seems so obvious when I write it down, but it certainly was not obvious to me before so I needed to write it down and remember it.
I am a product of white supremacy and a bigger part of upholding it than I am of disrupting and dismantling it. I’ve learned how hard it is to see this and how scary and disorienting it is to own my complicity. I’ve learned how my initial reaction is to defend myself against what feels triggering, take issue with things that don’t feel right and withdraw when my feelings get hurt. I see how my reactive and avoidant behavior is a huge part of why my racism and white supremacy prevail because I center myself and my feelings instead getting curious about what those experiencing racism and being forced to contend with white supremacy know to be true from their lived experiences.
White Privilege allows me to choose when to participate in these discussions, but when I do, unless I’m ready to show up to listen, research and work to understand what is being said to me and then sit in it…I’m still complicit. As a privileged white woman I benefit from and am catered to by many/all of our cultural, societal and structural systems. I’ve grown up expecting and normalizing this instead of seeing the my role in racial inequality how it directly effects the lives and well-being of people of color.
I’ve learned there are myriad ways I am harming, frustrating and exasperating Black Indigenous People of Color with my unconscious racism and unchecked white privilege. It has been hard for me to stay focused on learning about my own problematic racist behavior because I’ve invested so much into my persona as a loving, kind, helpful, peaceful woman. Seeing the oppressor in myself is sobering.
Acknowledging my racism doesn’t fit comfortably into the ways I like to think about myself. It’s been destructive to my core beliefs and I’ve felt shaken, but I’ve learned that this is what needs to happen for me to see how I’m actively and passively part of a system that is dehumanizing and destructive to people of color.
I’ve learned that blowing the whistle on myself in this way is scary, but that some people are paying attention and finding value in my words. The silence I’ve held about racism in the past has felt heavy and toxic. The energy I’ve expended externally and internally to defend against accepting my racism has been unproductive. My attempts to stay comfortable in my spiritual, white bubble have left me feeling hollow and agitated because I knew in my heart that I was wrong.
I’ve learned that I have to take courage and keeping breathing when I come face to face with BIPOC ready to take in what they are willing to share with me about the world they navigate that I haven’t directly experienced and can’t truly understand. My ability to stay humble and focused is very important. If BIPOC are angry or passionate towards me, I can find the reason behind it and listen to why instead of policing their delivery, tone or language.
I’ve learned that BIPOC do not own me anything, are not responsible for educating me about anything and do not need to cater to my needs, expectations or feelings. I’ve learned that when BIPOC request that I not comment or not attend or stay out of a space they’ve created for themselves that it is not a time to push their boundaries or complain. It’s likely less about me and more them about needing a break from white supremacy and space get relief from the whiteness they deal with constantly. I’ve learned that reverse racism is not and cannot be a thing. Period.
When I resist from centering myself, tone policing BIPOC, and inserting my white fragility into the mix, there is so much potential authentic human connection. Moment to moment I am strengthening my ability to adjust my behavior, beliefs and assumptions. I choose this because I want to and this is work I know I can do. This is a level of growth I could not access authentically before now and I’ve been trying to find my way here for a long time.
I’ll be honest that I do feel the fear of speaking out publicly against myself and about people of my race. But then I realize that I’m speaking out for my fellow human beings and against oppression. I feel the fear of being condemned, but I’m saying FU to that fear. I fear looking BIPOC in the eyes after owning all I’ve admitted, but it’s literally the least I can do after all this time. My fear is a tiny drop in the ocean compared to the havoc systemic racism causes, but fear has been a huge part of my silence. Overcoming my fear has actually not been as hard as I thought it would be.
I’ve learned that I behave a lot like a toddler around my racism and white supremacy. It’s time for me to grow up, take responsibility for myself and own my agency to participate in a way that focuses on understanding, taking action and creating solutions. #meandwhitesupremacy
This is in response to Layla Saad‘s 28 Day You & White Supremacy Instagram Challenge. @wildmysticwoman
Question for Day 7: “On Day 7 we don’t rest. Because BIPOC don’t get to rest from (your) white supremacy. But we do reflect. This is not a break. Consider it a breather. Because a lot has been brought to the surface over the last 6 days and it’s important to step back, take stock of what you’ve learnt so far and integrate so that you can continue through the rest of the challenge.
If you’ve been honest with yourself and digging deep during this challenge, then a lot of things should have come to the surface that you weren’t consciously aware of that you are now reflecting on. For today, share what you have learnt so far about You & White Supremacy. What have you begun to see and understand about your personal complicity in white supremacy that you were not able to see or understand before you begun this challenge? Again, we’re not looking for the happy ending, the teachable moment or the pretty bow at the end of all the learning. We’re also not looking for White Tears, dramatic admissions of guilt or becoming so frozen with shame that you can’t move forward. The aim of this work is not self-loathing. The aim of this work is Truth: seeing it, owning it and figuring out what to do with it. This is life long work. Avoid the shortcuts and be suspicious of the easy answers. Avoid the breaking down into White Fragility. Question yourself when you think you’ve finally figured it out. Simply take a moment to recall and find the patterns behind all that you have learnt so far about how you perpetuate white supremacy and then sit in it. Let these understandings work on you and through you. What have you learnt so far?” – Layla Saad