Obviously, I am a white woman in America. My heart is hurting for America, especially for my black brothers and sisters. This time is NOT about me. But I know my support is essential, my actions paramount.
I’ve been writing, processing, experiencing, watching, absorbing, emoting, caring, resting, rising, failing, falling, moving forward and backward, feeling inside and out, weary like we all are.
Doing one thing and then second guessing it or feeling paralyzed and then doing another thing. That might be my best right now. It might be your best right now.
Yes, this week has been exhausting and frightening and exhilarating and sad and so much more.
Every morning I have woken up with race on my mind: what have I been privileged to experience or NOT experience in my lifetime to date? Where can I be of service to my community? How can I help, what can I say, how can I be an active participant in this movement?
I started close to home. Started having the CLUNKY conversations with my partner and family about covert racism and how whiteness is a celebrated gold threading in America’s fabric.
These conversations are clunky for a reason — we have been able to live our entire lives successfully WITHOUT having to have them. Admittedly, I, like so many others, are just getting started in these conversations. Conversations that I always felt I didn’t “need” to have because I was a “good person” with kind intentions for everyone. That doesn’t cut it. I’m learning this. I need to have active conversations, be present in a deeper way than ever before.
Minneapolis has been my home for almost 5 years. The USA has been my home for 31 years. And I have never had to question if decisions were made because of my skin color, or worry about my progression in this country, or flounder without support. I have reaped the benefits of being white in America, of my ancestors for being white in America and beyond.
The “best I can” may fluctuate day to day; it may not look clean or perfectly outlined or neatly defined. Yet, the “best I can” is an active push to self-educate so my eyes can be widened to a world I have never quite known because it was not MY perceived world.
Here’s a list of what that looks like for me, and perhaps can help others like me get going or continue further:
1) I legit started by Googling “covert racism” and yes, began with the Wikipedia article. It’s ok to start wherever you start. JUST START.
2) I walked through my South Minneapolis neighborhood with my partner and my dog to talk to neighbors and actually introduce ourselves after living there for almost a year. We gave them our number, we participated in neighborhood cohesion. We made ourselves seen and known.
3) I am processing my emotions by journaling in the quiet of morning after a restless night of uncertainty and media intake. I’ve taken deep breaths and gotten lost in the leaves of a nearby tree as I look out my window, crying. I believe and KNOW as a mental health professional that self-compassion ignites real compassion for others.
4) I have been reading. And discussing with my partner, as I mentioned. And reading some more. It started with “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh. And I don’t know where it will take me next.
5) I’ve rested. I’ve taken a “mental health day” and tended to my own health and the health of my immediate household. Rest is the opposite of capitalism and an indicator of true HUMAN-life priorities.
6) I’ve kept my (half-liberal, half-conservative) family informed as best I can. We have a tendency to share largely the positive things in our lives, so I am chipping at barriers to share the realities of life, as well.
7) I’ve opened social media more often than ever before to engage. To see the conversation unfold and proactively sink into the hurt, the pain, the story, the atmosphere, the confusion, the angst, etc that is so prevalent.
8) I walked through my city to see firsthand the boarded businesses and the helpers on the streets cleaning up and donating food; to stand in solidarity for George at 38th and Chicago; to talk to others as best I can to hear their experience so far; to remember more deeply the time in our history when the pressure cooker finally exploded and we all were part of the problem AND solution.
9) I have donated to local causes (North Star Health Collective and Reclaim the Block). I understand the privilege of having paid work especially in the time of COVID and I am sharing my financial resources, as best I can.
10) THIS. Sharing experiences, resources, and perspective. Do this. Share. Share. Share. Add to the movement, to humanity. Your way might be different, but actively do it anyway. I hear the world loud and clear: ACTION and SPEAKING UP is necessary.
I share this lost NOT to be congratulated for actions taken. I share this list to show that steps forward are VARIED and ACCESSIBLE for all. Take a single step forward today, please. And start exactly where you are at — that is okay.