June Post #1 - A Personal Reflection - Responding to anti-Black racism

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

complacent.

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

oppression.


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!





TWIGS 

Tuesdays at lunch in the HUB

ARCHIVES 

Wednesdays after school in the RINC

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