This post has been brewing inside my mind and heart since Thursday morning when I awoke to the news of the murders of nine black individuals in a place of worship in Charleston. It is about faith, but it is also about race. What I want to say could be organized into twenty different blogs, so I’m starting with this with the hope of writing more in coming weeks. So here it goes…
I grew up with my own fair share of heartache, but I was lucky to go to really fantastic schools. I attended Grandview High School in Aurora, Colorado, where I truly felt like racism was over. It was the 21st century! Schools were desegregated! Slavery was an awful part of the past. I had several classes with students who were black. I worked with someone who is black. My family knew a black family that we met while traveling in our motor home. My dad had a black friend. My mom took us to a black church one Easter.
These were my rationalizations and observations about race in the United States growing up, and really my first encounters with race- noticing people who were not white in a shared space with me. We did not really talk about the race of people of color, and maybe more importantly, we did not really talk about our own race as people who are white.
I first realized that racism is still around about five years ago, during a college course. I began to learn what our history books do not teach us: the narratives of the oppressed and the systems in place to keep them oppressed. I can’t stop learning now that I have chosen to hear more stories from those who are different from me, and I can’t stop learning now that I have chosen to explore what it means to be white in the U.S. An early example: I had never before thought about how my high school served nearly 80% students who are white, and the idea of being able to count the black students I knew is ridiculously sad as well as tokenizing.
I want to desperately share all that I learn with you- my Facebook friends, my colleagues, my extended family, all who have realms of influence not because it is trendy, but it is so much the right thing to do. It’s justice. It has become impossible for me to ignore the racial divisions in the United States. And since I have seen the nation with a new lens, I physically cannot return to the old way in which I used to see. My brain will not let me.
I feel incredibly disheartened when I post an article exposing truth about the climate of racial tensions in a supposedly “post-racial” country, and I feel nobody cares. I posted an article a few weeks back about segregation and swimming pools that was extremely relevant after the McKinney, Texas pool incident where black teenagers were unwelcome in a neighborhood because of their skin color. (Much more happened). Nobody commented on it. Nobody liked it. Nobody shared it. When I share a picture of my daughter Zadie, there is interaction with the post almost instantly.
Which post is more warm & fuzzy? Obviously the baby. But friends, BOTH of these posts have a place here on social media. In my classroom, technology and social media usage is about: raising awareness, starting conversations, finding answers to your questions, joining with others, changing minds (sometimes even your own!), making a difference, taking action, and driving change.
Friends, I bring this up because I will not stop posting about my learning. The above intentions are my own intentions as well. It is a privilege to just hear about oppressive stories and scroll past rather than live them or purposely dig in deeper to someone else’s story.
If you are interested in learning more about race, racism, and white privilege, let’s connect.
If you are not, please notice that feeling and become curious about why you feel the way you do.
After the death of Jordan Davis in February 2014, I wrote a blog called “My Response to #BlackLivesMatter” that I think is still just as relevant and still articulates my stance pretty well. You can read it here.
Otherwise, stay posted for more reflections about racial tensions in the U.S., continue to #PrayforCharleston, and continue to be curious about the way you live your life and how you got there.