My blog has been quiet on the race topic because my blog has just been mostly quiet lately. (Motherhood kicks my butt.) But privately I’m trying to do the work. I’m reading books, I’m watching the news, we’re intentionally exposing M to shows and toys and experiences of all colors & cultures. But I’ve been mostly quiet on here.
I live in a rural Midwest town. I can think of four black kids that went to school with me- two are siblings and only one was actually in my grade.
I live in a town where people are either okay with being racist or fire off the line, “I don’t see color.” Or they say they have black friends so they’re obviously not racist.
I grew up terrified of cities. I grew up inching away from strangers and closer to my mom when people looked different from me. I grew up hearing people use the n-word. I grew up with white dolls, white storybook characters, and white friends.
I didn’t understand white privilege until recently, but when I look back on my life I’m suddenly very very aware of the white bubble I was raised in. And I know that it’s not my fault that my town is white… but it’s now my resposibility to see color and to see inequality and to say something or do something or stop something.
When I was in 8th grade we took our class trip to Washington D.C. My best friend and I were rooming with another pair of best friends, but at the last minute the one girl had to drop out of the trip. The 4th spot in our hotel room was filled with the one black girl in our class.
That night, as we were laying down for bed, the white girl whose friend had ditched last minute started pushing two of the arm chairs together. My best friend and I looked at her with puzzled faces. When the black roommate popped into the restroom the girl told us that her dad was uncomfortable with her sharing a bed with a black girl, so he told her to find a different place to sleep in the room.
I remember it rubbed my best friend and I the wrong way, but I also remember not doing anything about it except maybe telling the white girl how dumb that was.
I hate that story. That happened in 2005. I’ve seen other blatant acts of racism in my town since them- some I’ve had the opportunity to speak out against, some not.
I’m reading White Fragility right now and, while I’m not done, I understand and appreciate being called out on the prejudices I have and the discrimination I inadvertently acted on.
There is no horn-tooting in this post. I am part of this country’s problem. I hate the confederate flag, I feel no malice toward people of color, I read books and watch films with diversity. But it’s not enough. And it’s never been enough.
So this is my public declaration to do better- and to maybe encourage you to do the same. I think a lot of people have stories like my D.C. one. And that doesn’t make my behavior ok, it just makes a lot of us at fault.
So to those facing adversity because of diversity, I’m so sorry and I will work hard to do better.