I can’t even tell you how many times I have started this post and gotten too upset to finish. I don’t even know how many names it has had as I’ve tried to find a light hearted way to come at this subject. In my new theme of accepting my feelings without comparing them to those of anyone else; I’M MAD!!!!!
I am mad at another death. I’m mad that the protests were overshadowed by the looters. I’m mad that I have to educate my son on how to try to avoid police brutality. I’m mad that no matter what I do the color of his skin means that every time he leaves my sight I’m worried for him.
I am feeling drained and disheartened. I feel that actions are speaking more than words, so I have plans to attend a rally in the near future and I am removing people from my facebook friend list who post things that are offensive and/or dismissive to/of what I feel. I will call friends out on actions or things they say that are racist. Pointing these things out is NOT calling someone a racist, it is saying that they have a behavior that I’m uncomfortable with.
I want to share is a list I’ve been working on. This is a starting point and can be elaborated on a lot. I’m still learning how to be an ally. I get it wrong sometimes. I can accept correction and feedback. I can be better.
Starting points for being an ally while white:
*Educate yourself on microaggressions.
You speak so clearly (when said to someone whose native language is what you are commenting on)
You dress so professionally
*When you see someone being spoken to by law enforcement pay attention. If the person is a minority, stay nearby if possible and have your phone ready to record.
*Never touch someone's hair, asking first does not make it ok.
*NEVER start a statement with "I'm not a racist but…" or "if they had just…"Listen to learn, not to respond.
*Accept criticism, thank the person who gave it to you.
*Do not feel that you have to contribute to the conversation, sometimes being there and listening says more.
*Become aware of black news sources (I'm a particular fan of The Root).
*Know that your black friends and colleagues are probably not going to open up to you about how they feel. If they do, LISTEN! Listen to learn, not to respond.
*Accept that you are going to mess up. Learn from it!
Special notes for parents:
*Give your kids toys representing different skin colors.
*Read your kids books that feature characters that are minorities. *Be aware that many black children are forbidden to play with guns (yes, this includes water guys, nerf guns, and using sticks or fingers as pretend guns).
*If you have children of color visit your home, they have very likely been given very firm instructions on how they can act and play so they may seem uncomfortable if your children are playing in a way they have been warned against.
*If your child is with a child of color and approached by any form of law enforcement, your child’s actions will reflect on the other child and may get that child in more trouble.
*Quickly shut down ANY racist comments or stereotypes your children express and educate them on how those comments and generalizations hurt.
There is so much more I could say, and I am happy to have an open conversation with anyone who wants to. I will NOT listen to excuses and I will NOT tolerate racism. I can be better. We can be better. We must do better.