by: Ms Walker - an accomplice in dismantling the system-
I have written and rewritten this post too many times to count. I have started and stopped. Deleted. Used Ctrl+Z so many times the lettering is fading on the keys. Reflected. Thought about not writing a post. Decided not to write post. Decided I needed to write a post - thought about who I was writing it for. Decided to write a post but not post it. Decided to write a post and post it (if I ever finish it). The whole experience reminded me of Eng4U students in the RiNC sem 1 trying to write their MTP! :)
What I realize in looking back at my process and indecisiveness in writing this post is this: I was only thinking about me. I was only worried about my feelings and how I might be affected by the words I chose to use - I was hiding behind my fear of judgement - my fear of being wrong - I was hiding behind my white privilege.
Last summer, I read White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. I took many things away from that reading:
1. It was not an easy read.
2. I had to do a great deal of self-reflection and that was tough because I realized
something about myself that I was not proud of and something I would never have
described myself as...
3. I was a racist - tough to say - tough to type -
Anyone reading this who knows me wouldn't use this word to describe me either, I don't think, but here is what I have learned from my reading. DiAngelo states that:
[we] have to change our idea of what it means to be racist. As long as you define a racist as an individual who intentionally is mean, based on race, you’re going to feel defensive. When I say you’ve been shaped by a racist system—that it is inevitable that you have racist biases and patterns and investments—you’re going to feel offended by that. You will hear it as a comment on your moral character. You’re going to feel offended by that if you don’t change how you’re interpreting what I just said. [...]
When we understand racism as a system that we have been raised in and that its impact is inevitable, it’s really not a question of good or bad. It’s just, “I have it. I have been socialized into it.” And so, “What am I going to do about it?” is really the question. And that’s where, I think, maybe some guilt could come in, when you know that and you’re still not going to do anything about it.[...] So, let me be really clear: As a result of being raised as a white person in this society, I have a racist worldview. I have racist biases. I have developed racist patterns as a result, and I have investments in the system of racism. (DiAngelo Teaching Tolerance)
4. I have accepted that "I have it" and "I have been socialized into it".
5. I have accepted the guilt and shame I feel because of "it". These emotions are normal
reactions but I cannot allow them to consume me to the point that I remain
6. Complacency, silence, pride, fear or shame cannot be valued as more important than
using the power my privilege gives me to demand change within the systems of
I have never shied away from calling someone out for racist or derogatory comments and I work hard to ensure I am inclusive in all that I do as a teacher and person of the world.
7. What I didn't realize or acknowledge was how little these actions impact the realities
of the world.
8. It's no longer enough to simply be a good person.
Since the murder of George Floyd on May 25th 2020 I have shed tears of sadness and frustration. I have wrestled with when to and when not to talk. I have made mistakes. I have acknowledged them and learned from them. I accept that everyone is on their own path to finding their voice. I accept at sometimes I will be alone when challenging the systems. I also know that at other times I will have a group beside me and we will all wait until our voices are needed.
At GCI, I take my cue from you - Black students, Black colleagues, Black friends - I will be beside you or behind you and if needed in front of you! I will use my privileged and very loud voice when you need it. I will listen when you need that and I will no longer be a bystander to the system of oppression that I benefit from and that you do not.
I am your accomplice!