This week, my research has led me to some conversations that are painful, nuanced, and quite difficult. Race – what a loaded term. For some it calls to mind painful, painful experiences. For some it’s a politically correct term that they’d rather avoid. For some it’s part of history; for some, it’s ever-present.
One thing I’m hoping to accomplish (as if something like this can be accomplished or finished) is to open up the conversations around race so that all people can be heard. So often, the conversation gets shut down because people are uncomfortable with the discussion. They don’t want to appear racist, or don’t want to appear jaded or bitter, or don’t want to appear ignorant. Yet, if there’s one thing I know, it’s that ignoring a conversation, a problem, a question doesn’t make it go away. In fact, ignorance only makes things grow.
As a white woman, I cannot possibly know what it is to be a person of color in the United States. I simply do not have that experience. I can’t claim I do, nor would I want to appropriate someone else’s experience. That’s not compassionate or loving, and it’s also not good writing.
What I do know is that as a white person here I have immense privilege of which I am almost never aware. When people talk, “white” is the default race. I am almost never the only person of my race in a room. I am rarely shadowed in a store or viewed with suspicion by a police officer. People do not cross to the other side of the street when they see me, and as far as I know, no one assumes I’m ignorant or violent because of my skin color. Yet, these are experiences that people of color have told me about – personal, painful experiences.
So today, here, I ask you – what is the state of race relations here in the U.S? Where are we in building Dr. KIng’s dream? What is your reality as part of your race?
I’m not asking for easy, simple answers here, folks. I’m also not asking for defamatory, hateful answers either. In fact, I’m not looking for answers at all. . . just reflection – honest, true reflection.
(To get you thinking further, here are a few thoughts folks have posted on the topic of race. I don’t necessarily agree with everything said in these folks’ writing, but I do greatly appreciate their honesty.
“Identity Crisis” by Beckami
“The Struggle to Dissect Privilege” by Sara
“No Habla Espanol” by Nean
“The Racial Divide” by Becky)
Please share. Take as much as space and time as you need. Be honest, be thoughtful. . . Thanks.