Race is a challenging topic because everyone’s experience with race, racism, and discrimination is different. So it’s important to listen, even when things get uncomfortable. For some it stirs up SHAME, GUILT, or DENIAL while, for others, FRUSTRATION, ANGER and EMOTIONAL EXHAUSTION.
I remember when a Pilates student of mine casually declared that racism didn’t exist anymore. My blood instantly boiled before leaving my body. My brain filled with expletives and a gazillion snarky responses. But this Black woman, who was trained to coddle this kind of ignorance, mustered up a calm response; revealing some of my own personal experiences with racism and discrimination. I guess he’d somehow decided that the Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, and the Fair Housing Act from the mid to late 60s happened; and “POOF!” racism was erased from the hearts and minds of all those who vehemently opposed progress? That’s a dangerous bubble of ignorance to dwell in.
That mindset feels far more threatening to me than any emboldened racist who believes they’re inherently superior. I’m more afraid of people who believe equity already exists in education, housing, the job market and our financial institutions. The ones who think the criminal justice system is truly just and that laws and policies are created for the greater good of all citizens and enforced equally. And worse, that they believe they’re “good people” who “don’t see color”. That’s like nails on a chalkboard for me.
I think the convo with my student sparked some shame, guilt and denial for him. And for me, frustration, anger, and emotional exhaustion. But then he did his RESEARCH, including reading the NYT 1619 Project. And he apologized. Years later, he’s still my student. I sense that he’s hyper-aware of and even surprised by his own unconscious biases (we’ve all got ‘em). At least it’s one less person that believes we live in a post-racial society. Next step? Anti-racism!
S.I.T. With Yourself in February
This month’s #soakedinthought journaling prompts are inspired by Black History Month which is observed in February by the United States, United Kingdom and Canada in celebration of the African diaspora including African-American history.