Everyone’s a little bit racist

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Alison Steele is a Liberty High School alum who traveled the world looking for adventure and purpose before finding it in Pittsburgh.  She has made it her mission to help others make more informed decisions around how they interact with people and the planet.

from Steele’s Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist, Part 1

For the fifteen or so years or so since I learned every word of this musical [“Avenue Q”] and was awoken to the fact that I have inherent racial biases with which I was raised, I haven’t been quite sure what to do with that information other than work actively to recognize when my decisions are made based on fact or on personal bias. I have also long believed that since I was born into a life of resources, stability, and privilege, that it is my responsibility to lift up others who have not had the advantages I’ve had, whether racial, economic, or educational. Again, when it comes down to how to do that, I feel like I’ve never been quite sure of the best course of action, though social equity is something I have tried to focus on supporting in my career path. But ultimately, I don’t consider myself to be very progressive, and I feel like I could be doing more good with my position of privilege.

The events of the past few weeks and months have been incredibly disturbing and have really shone a spotlight on the systemic racism in our country and biases baked into our law enforcement and criminal justice systems. On one hand, it has been horrifying simply to turn on the news; on the other hand, it has also been heartening to see the sheer scale of voices from communities of color and support from white allies calling for justice and accountability. When I “look for the helpers,” as Mister Rogers taught us to do, I see ways I can educate myself and work toward the change I want to see in the world.

Friends of mine have been sharing information online about how to contribute time, money, information, and physical presence in a variety of ways (and I will be providing a list of resources and ideas below and in the coming posts). One opportunity in particular that caught my eye was from my dear friend Kelly who is leading a discussion group on the book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. I signed up immediately.

One friend I told about this group was surprised that I signed up for it because she does not consider me to be a “fragile white person” – because, she told me, I do recognize my privilege and take steps to fight for social equity. I hope her assessment of me is accurate, but I also believe that we can all do better. And my goal in joining this group was to learn how I can better engage others in these types of conversations, particularly those who aren’t as willing as I am to talk about race.

Since we’re going down this path, I feel the need to say that I recognize it is not my place to speak for minorities. It is not my time to be center stage, but to be a good ally by supporting others’ voices and highlighting their experiences. However, I am becoming rapidly aware that many of us in the majority don’t know how to do that. I think that part of the problem with talking about race in America today is not only the fact that we aren’t taught how to talk about race, but that most of us don’t have the first idea of what it is like to be a minority. Therefore I’m going to go on a tangent about myself to demonstrate how little I understand about being a person of color in America…

[please continue on Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist, Part 1.]

Gadfly has recommended native Bethlehemite Steele’s blog before for her sustainability posts, but, you must admit, she’s taking on a timely but tricky subject here. Take a look.

2 thoughts on “Everyone’s a little bit racist

  1. Good post, looking forward to Part 2.

    I’ve only read a couple of the books on her list, and I’d suggest BEYOND THE WHITENESS OF WHITENESS*, which was recommended by Sharon Browne, who used to facilitate some excellent — deep & insightful — conversations on racism & diversity at Moravian College.

    AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE U.S.*, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, is well worth reading! (And Zinn’s original ‘People’s History’ also sheds a lot of light on the racism, violence, & white supremacism issues.

    * Sorry, the comment form doesn’t let me use italics.

    Like

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