Let’s Get Real About Racism & White Supremacy

I know, it’s hard to think about, but we have to. As white people, we have to take a serious, hard look at our white privilege.

So, this is not a conversation starter for anyone not ready or willing to let go of their pride, privilege and comfort.

This is not for anyone not willing to listen.

This is simply not for anyone not ready to examine their own white privilege, so, if this is you, please stop reading now and come back when you’re ready. And I say that with the utmost love and respect for who you are and where you are in your journey. I don’t want to offend or anger anyone, but I’m feeling very offended and angry this week due to you-know-who’s latest Twitter rant, and the conversations he’s started about racism.

This is for anyone who’s ready to have a real conversation about race, racism, white supremacy and our (white people) complicity and complacency with this deep seeded evil.

I feel compelled to respond to the most recent racist and xenophobic attack on (specifically) four US Representatives, and thus (generally) all People of Color (POC) by this sitting President. At the Tuesday evening Press Conference, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said “I am not surprised by the rhetoric” this President uses.

Nor am I.

It should not surprise any of us any more.

His actions and his policies, and his propensity toward inflammatory speech have not changed since long before he decided to run for President. Why should any of us be surprised by his most recent Tweets and racist language? And let’s get real about what to call it:  Racist and xenophobic.

Yes, I’ve read the offensive tweets, and I can certainly understand how white people who’ve never been told to “go back to where you came from” can argue that there’s nothing racist in these words, however, racism is at the very heart of this message. The message is right out of the white supremacy playbook, and we cannot be fooled by the carefully scripted tweets, arguments, and excuses of racists. Language has always been the primary tool of every Nationalist group whose agenda is to control, incite, and instill fear both within their own group and those targeted as “outsiders.”

This President is a racist.

There, I’ve said it. It’s harsh and sounds awful. So do his tweets. His tweets and statements are harsh, awful, insensitive, vulgar, sexist, and a host of other negative things none of us wants to be labeled, most of all racist. White people will often say things that are insensitive, unaware of the harm their words have on POC. I’m guilty of this. When a non-racist person becomes aware of it they change their language and behavior, and hopefully also apologize. Clearly we have seen this President’s racist behavior over and over again. Frankly, I’ve had enough!

Representative John Lewis said it best in his speech before the House voted on a resolution condemning Trump’s racist tweets, “As a nation and as a people we need to go forward not backward.”

So what else can we do about it? How do we respond to this latest attack, this latest effort to sow more seeds of hatred, fear, and violence, and how can we change the direction of white supremacy here in the US and around the world?

I offer two important books and authors:  Layla F. Saad and her book & workbook “Me and White Supremacy,” and Robin DiAngelo and her book & workbook “White Fragility.”

Read, discuss, explore, examine, contemplate, pray, reflect, and share. Share your insight and experiences. Share your thoughts, fears, and ideas. Share your hopes for a better way forward, together. Share it here in the comments below and/or on your own social media platform.

Above all, call it for what it is when you see it, hear it, or feel it. Call out those who use such offensive language. And don’t be afraid to challenge the systems and structures that prevent us all from growing in love and respect.

 

 

My Black Children’s Lives Matter

I am a white woman with two grown black children, and I am genuinely afraid for their lives.

The death, violence, and hatred that we have all witnessed this week should concern us all.  As President Obama stated with such great emotional restraint last Wednesday, “These are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.”   The events of this week of violence in America concerns me deeply.  More deeply than I have ever acknowledged before.  And, as Obama said, these events should concern and trouble us all.

No mother or father (black, brown or white) should have to have “the conversation” with their black son to “be careful when (not if, but WHEN!) you’re stopped by the police.  Why?  Because you’re a black man in America.”  [This “conversation” has been happening for several generations.  Watch this emotional video.]  My heart is broken and I am weary of the racial injustice that is woven into the fabric of this nation.  As I stated in an earlier piece:

[As a nation and as a people] we have learned precious little.  Not only do we still nurture hatred, suspicion, and bigotry in our children, we also continue to support and sanction state sponsored violence and oppression against targeted groups and minorities.  What the hell are we afraid of?

I will not counter the #BlackLivesMatter movement with that petty, insensitive and ignorant retort uttered by so many white people who feel uncomfortable discussing racism in the shadow of yet another murdered black man.  Feel the discomfort.  Be appalled and horrified by the violence our nation continues to suffer because of poverty, bigotry, and oppression.  And please, I beg you, stop contributing to it with hateful, inflammatory speech and insensitive remarks based on nothing but fear and ignorance.

This world seems to be going to hell in a hand-basket and I am feeling ashamed to be a part of a race that causes so much division, fear, bigotry, racism, and poverty in our world.  I am embarrassed by all of the ignorant comments on social media that clearly come from the narrow perspective of white privilege.  If you have the courage, I invite you to stop and consider what it is like to be a minority in America.  Everyday of your life.  Everywhere you go.  With nowhere to hide from those who fear you based solely on the color of your skin.  I have tried to imagine this and have fallen short, even though I have heard and experienced the hatred and prejudice of white people while out in public with my black children.  It hurts.  A lot.  Imagine being hurt every day of your life for no other reason except that you are black, and devalued by society.

I cannot speak to pain of racism and oppression in this country as my own children surely can.  I cannot speak to the feelings of cultural duplicity that they must feel or the tension of having one foot in one world and one foot in another.  I cannot possibly imagine what it is like to be a black man or a black woman in this country.  Or can I?  I am, after all, a member of the human race, am I not?  My ability to empathize with someone else’s pain is not limited by the color of my skin.  When I read reports and commentary on racism, or when I watch the news in horror, do I not feel a deep frustration at the unjust system that fuels hatred and fear, and targets black men in this country?  Of course I do, and so should every other human being.

But they don’t.

The deaths/murders of two more innocent black men at the hands of white police officers this week has left me feeling inconsolable.  The ambush on police officers in Dallas leaves me feeling hopeless.  The relentless violence that engulfs our nation leaves me feeling deeply troubled, sad and weary.  If we continue to meet violence with more violence, and hate with more hate (MLK speech on “Loving Your Enemies.”), then is it any wonder that this country remains racially polarized so many generations after the end of slavery?  As Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

The whole issue of racism in this country has me questioning everything.  Again.  After all these years I still do not understand it.  I do not understand how civilized people can continue to cling to a system that is complicit with racism and bigotry in an age that is groaning toward a more progressive and egalitarian society that embraces and celebrates diversity in all of its forms.

I just don’t understand anymore, and I’m afraid for our children and their future.

Grant us peace, Lord, for we are in desperate need.

A Profile of Racism In Our World

 

I began this draft back in February of 2016 when I first read Kristian Davis Bailey’s account of his horrifying experience in Israel and the West Bank.  I’ve visited this draft several times since, but was never satisfied with it overall.  That is until I awoke this morning to the news of yet another mass shooting/killing in Orlando, Florida, in the “good ol’ us of a.”  Again, I am without words to describe my horror, sadness and grief.  And, saying the obvious, “my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families” sounds hollow and small.

How can I relate?  How can anyone relate?  Only those who have lost loved ones to hatred, violence, abuse, and death can relate.  I only know that today I cried tears of compassion and solidarity with the many who mourn the loss of their loved ones, their ideals, their innocence, their joy, and their belief in a world where peace and love always conquer violence, hatred and fear.  I still believe in these values and truths, but today…. I’m a bit shaken.

 

At the risk of offending just about everyone I know, I want to talk about the evils of racism {and, after today’s terror in Orlando, we can add to racism:  intolerance, hatred, homophobia, and bigotry in all its forms}.  Not as a white woman, or as a white woman with children of color, or as any label I may be stuck with, but simply as a member of humanity.  Quite honestly I have always been a bit naïve and/or idealistic when it comes to relationships, so I’ve never understood how societies continue to justify racist and unjust laws, racial profiling, and blatantly racist and ignorant speech.  What disturbs me even more is how these advanced and so-called “civilized” countries turn a blind eye to the poverty and violence such racist behavior perpetuates upon targeted groups.

Again, given the tragic events in Orlando today, I am horrified at the numbers.  The US leads the world in the number of mass shootings.  We have more guns in circulation than any other country, and there are about 40 million more guns than people in America.  Appalling!  I do not, nor will I ever, own a gun.  That means that most gun owners in the US must own more than quite a few guns one gun.  Personally, I do not feel “safe.”
Back in February I read an article on Color Lines by activist and journalist Kristian Davis Bailey.  He was on his way to a conference in the West Bank where he was one of the featured speakers on Palestinian and Black solidarity.  Of course he was racially and politically profiled and treated so horribly and unjustly that I simply have no words to add to his own detailed report on the events that followed.  SeriouslyClick the link and read the article. In Kristian’s own words he has “no illusion about what occurred” to him at the hands of Israeli border agents, nor do I.

I am baffled and deeply saddened by the obvious take-away here:  In the last 100 years (and more!) we have learned precious little.  Not only do we still nurture hatred, suspicion, and bigotry in our children, we also continue to support and sanction state sponsored violence and repression against targeted groups and minorities.  What the hell are we afraid of?  Peace?  Love?  The possibility of authentic joy?

I know that poverty is at the very heart of the violence and hatred we see all across the globe, but I’m naïve & idealistic.  I believe that there is more than just one person in every nook and cranny of the world that has had enough.  I want to believe that we can change this culture of violence & hatred into a culture of peace & love.  I want to believe this with all my heart, but today…  I am shaken.  I am truly shaken.