Tag Archives: Diedra Barber

It’s Okay To Be Quiet, AND Keep “Doing the Work” Every Day Of Our Lives

27 Jan

Happy 2023!

I know I’ve been quiet here on the blog–very quiet in 2022. I only wrote two pieces, far fewer than the past ten years I’ve been writing entries on Wendy Jane’s Soul Shake.

Reflection

And there is a reason, well, there are many reasons why, and initially I wasn’t aware of all of them. At first, my conscious thoughts were things like, what else can I say that I haven’t already said, and, who needs to keep hearing from this white woman. There were thoughts I had about needing to overhaul the blog, tech-wise. The outdated, clunky theme doesn’t always work properly. There were thoughts about changing up the content. I figured if I was tired of hearing just myself talk about whiteness, I should bring in other voices. A friend, who is Black, suggested I be in conversation with other white people on the blog, to hear from others on how they experience their whiteness, and where they see themselves in the work of transforming white supremacy culture and systems of oppression into a future that is free, and equitable for all of us.

There was also the realization of how prevalent it was for me, and many white folks, especially in the last two years, to post on social media about our outrage about racism, about the fact that Black Lives Matter, and how we all urgently wanted to fight for what is right. And then there was the real feedback from some Black people, and Indigenous people, and people of color, who showed us how much of this is performative. It showed us how we post about our outrage, put a sign in our front yards, and still go about our day-to-day lives upholding our white privilege and power, and not changing a thing in terms of shifting that power in all areas of our lives–where we live, where our kids get to go to school, who gets what job, whose doctor believes their patients know their bodies, who gets sicker and dies during the pandemic, who dies more giving birth, who feels they belong in workplace culture, whose ideas matter, who gets to build wealth, and on and on.

Some of these reasons, I know, were ways for me to make excuses, deflect, and find ways to feel comfortable in my own discomfort around being a white woman who wants to be part of the collective “doing the work” of transmuting white supremacy culture. Transmuting, or changing in form, nature or substance, is a term that Diedra Barber and Maureen Benson, co-hosts of the podcast, Eyes on Whiteness, and co-directors of Transmuting White Supremacy Culture and Patriarchy use, to teach how through the cultivation of intersectional leadership, “a foundational (and daily) practice of introspection, self-awareness, intersectional inquiry, transparency, vulnerability, and invoking collectivism,” we can intentionally shift the culture from white supremacy and patriarchy, toward a collective way of being that reduces harm to all, and builds a just future that goes far beyond “diversity and inclusion” efforts.

My discomfort, I know, shows up in a number of ways. It can be the anxiety that still comes with speaking up about racism within a group, whether at my work at the hospital when a co-worker says something racist, or shows ignorance toward culturally responsive care, or, within my friends group. I know in my heart and my brain, that it is far more important to me to speak up and address racism, than to worry about the conflict that may arise, or the way other white people are going to see me. The majority of the time, I do say what I believe needs to be said. The anxiety is still there when I say it, and so is the good old tinge of white supremacy culture worry that the words coming out of my mouth won’t sound smooth and perfect. The other discomfort is worrying about whether I should step back. For example, I worry if I’m writing or talking about matters of race that should be said by Black people, and not me. And, like all “good, white people, ” I worry about slipping up and causing harm to Black people. Again, I know this is all part of the process, By the virtue of living as a white person, I am going to cause harm. I am going to say and do things that cause harm to Black people, and I have to acknowledge that, take responsibility for my actions, apologize, correct course, and move forward. I know I have messed up this year, and caused harm to Black people in this past year, either in word or deed, or in omission of word or deed.

On Being Quiet

The other reason, which I wasn’t initially aware of during this past year, is that it’s okay to be quiet–as long as I/we, are still being a part of the work to shift culture. I may not share my outrage as much on social media, or post all the events I’ve taken part in–all the things I’m doing behind the scenes, even though in a minute here, I am going to be letting you know what I’ve been up to! It’s okay to sit in reflection, allow your self-awareness to grow, to absorb life, and know “next-steps” will come to you, and you will still be a part of the work. The ‘being quiet’ part reminds me of a phone conversation I had last spring with community activist, youth leader, non-profit director, Pilar McCloud.

I was yet another white person reaching out to Pilar, a Black woman, to talk about racial justice–in this case, to inquire how the local Jewish Temple whose Racial Justice Committee I was involved with, could better connect with people in the Black community in Providence. I’ve known Pilar for a number of years now, since I moved to Providence, and admire her greatly for her passionate commitment to serving the Black community in Providence, and beyond. Pilar fights for what’s right in public education, housing, employment, public safety, and tells it like it is to us white folks who sure need, not only to hear it, but to do something about it. And yet, for so many Black women, we white folks will admire them, and talk about how strong, how brilliant, how resilient, how tireless they are, but not see them as human beings who deserve rest, who shouldn’t have to carry the burden of doing all this work, and who should be paid for their labor, whether being asked to speak at an event, or being invited “to connect” and share their knowledge of racism and the impact of white supremacy on the Black community, and then, still be asked to tell us what we can do to “help.”

In our phone conversation, Pilar, talked about how fighting for justice is not just showing up at the State House for a rally, holding up signs, and posting on social media. I remember her sharing, and I’m paraphrasing here, that it’s not just speaking up when a big event happens, like the George Floyd murder. Fighting for justice is the tireless, day-to-day, being in the community, being in community, and seeing what needs to be done to make things safe, make things better, make things fair and equitable, for Black and brown people who don’t have the same privilege and power as white people do, and then, doing it.

Pilar’s words resonated with me that day. It is my hope they resonate with other white people, too. To hear them means to keep working every day of our lives, on changing the power and privilege dynamics that keeps white people at the top of everything. It is not an event. For me, it is a way of showing up and moving through all the spaces I am in, striving to be in “right relationship”, as activist, and author, Sonya Renee Taylor says, with all of the people I interact with. That I retain my awareness of the lens I look through as a white, Jewish, middle-aged woman, middle-class, who grew up in the Northeast. That I stay aware of the way white supremacy culture permeates majority white spaces, and bring attention to that, and act in a way to be a part of shifting away from that, to a culture that is truly–though I hedge to use this word because of its ties to DEI work that often fails at it–inclusive, and just.

How Quiet Can Lead To Intuiting What You Need

Being quiet this year was good for me, necessary. I took more time to do internal reflection on how the traits of whiteness and internalized racism show up in me. In the spring/summer, I took part in a twelve-week, online Embodied Social Justice Program, led by the non-profit organization, Transformative Change, with lead co-facilitators, Rev. angel Kyodo williams, and Dr. Sara King. I learned so much, too much to try and concisely share here. I learned more about the critical element of somatic, body conditioning as integral to individual and collective change work. I experienced what it meant to be in community, to sit in affinity group break-out rooms and have to talk with other white folks about what comes up for us in being a part of the work. I had to also, at times, sit in my own discomfort at being the white gaze witnessing the pain and discomfort of members of our cohort, who were Black, Asian, Latinx, Indigenous, queer, trans, disabled, as they shared their life experiences with racism, white supremacy culture, and white people’s behaviors, and a few times, the harm caused during the program.

I continued to be a part of activist, author, blogger, Shay Stewart-Bouley’s, Beloved Community, a group of about fifteen, primarily white women, and several white men, who meet monthly over a course of five months, to share about what we are up to in the work of anti-racism, and to hold one another accountable in the work. Here is another space where I am learning what it means to be in community with others. I have always been shy, quiet, and someone who liked working on things, whether artistically, or at work, on my own. I now realize that, even though we are born with some of these innate qualities of introversion or shyness, it is also true that white supremacy culture created the myth of individual meritocracy, and living according to the desires of the individual. We live by the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality, when Black and brown people in this country weren’t given the boots or the straps. We give praise for individual achievement and advancement as if a person gains things all on their own. Yet, it is the creation of laws, policies and systems which afforded white people in this country the opportunities to advance, while slavery, Jim Crow laws, redlining, voter restriction, and an unjust criminal justice system, placed obstacles and stole those opportunities for Black people in this country to advance. Living my life focusing on myself, and not being a part of community building, has limited my ability to truly be a part of racial justice work, and be a part of making an impact.

I learn from Shay, and my fellow Beloved Community members, as I learned from the words of Rev. angel Kyodo williams, that none of us do the work of transmuting white supremacy culture alone. We do it in community. As Rev. angel says, “…look inward first, and then when you’re ready to turn outward, grab a hand.” I’m eternally grateful, too, that Shay, paired me up with my two cohort buddies, Alyssa and Gabi. We meet to chat in between our full community meetings to support one another in the work, and it means so much to me to have their presence and care, and honesty, as we share our experiences–the good, the bad, and the ugly–and carry one another along on this journey of learning and unlearning.

As leader of our group, who creates the container for this work to happen, I think about how that is a lot for Shay, a Black woman, to take on. Yet, Shay has told us she feels strongly that the work needs to happen within the white community, and more importantly, that the work is relational. That the way we move things forward is by being in relationship with one another. This is an important learning for me. I can see much more clearly now because of Shay, that yes, us white people need to be talking with one another and looking inward to reflect upon our own internalized whiteness and racism, and, look outward, and act, to be a part of the change. We also, of course, need to build cross-racial relationships in the work of transmuting white supremacy culture and systems of oppression.

On My Taking Baby Steps To Build More Community

Speaking to being in community with other white people, a close friend of mine, Anisa, sent along a group email to me and six other white women in our friends’ circle. The email contained a 21-day Racial Equity Challenge sent out by the local United Way. She said she was taking part in it, and passed it along to see if any of us wanted to join in. We thanked her, and at the end of the challenge, one of the women emailed the group to share some of her reflections, and said she was interested to hear what others in the group thought and felt. I thanked her for reaching out with that prompt, and upped the ante I suppose, by asking if all of us would be interested in meeting to get deeper into anti-racism conversations together. I was glad to hear the “yes” from everyone in the group, and we have been meeting monthly since last April.

I knew one of my reasons for wanting us to come together was to keep anti-racism work going. I noticed that conversations on racism were waning among white people. It’s just as Pilar noted above. The quiet came after the media coverage on anti-Black racism diminished. Corporate DEI efforts continue to dwindle just two years after the murder of George Floyd. I am grateful that my friends are showing up, in all of our imperfectness, to recognize and reflect on the power and privilege we hold, to learn and grow, cause less harm, and be a part of the necessary collective change our country sorely needs.

And even within our group, I realize the question of identity, how we see ourselves and one another, and the desire to not erase the complexity of our identities, is present for me. When writing this piece, I reached out to Anisa and asked her how she likes to identify herself as I know her father is Iraqi, and her mother, a white American. Anisa told me, “I’m constantly wrestling with this…I’ve even listened to some podcasts on this topic that actually sometimes give me the aha moment….I feel I both deny my Arab culture and want to acknowledge this part of my background, yet not speaking Arabic and growing up in the states, not in Iraq, with all the advantage and privilege of being white-it feels if I use the term Arab American that I am appropriating a life I have not lived, especially the political unrest. And then since Arab is not on a census, or as a box for race – I am left with white.” She finished with saying that she’s not sure how to identify, and this causes her discomfort. I truly appreciated Anisa sharing with me in her email reply, and a face-to-face, fuller conversation shortly afterward. I gained some insight and education, and the reminder of how complex and layered identity is, and I got to learn more about how my friend feels–something I never took the time to ask her about before now.

Some of the books I’ve read this year include, Dear White Women, Please Come Home, by Kimberlee Yolanda Williams. Shay asked our Beloved Community group to read the book, a collection of scenarios all experienced by the author, a Black woman, and written as individual letters to her long, lost (fictional) white woman friend, who she hopes will “come home. ” The metaphorical coming home is what Kimberlee, the author, keeps holding onto hope for, that white women will rise to the occasion and finally become “sisters” with Black women, instead of rendering them invisible, and causing harm, as Kimberlee so vividly shares in her book. I am currently reading, also at the request of Shay, for the next section of our Beloved Community convening, White Women: Everything You Already Know About Your Own Racism, And How To Do Better by Regina Jackson and Saira Rao. Once I finish reading this book, which I’m glad will be discussed with Shay and the rest of our community, I will be reading Myisha T. Hill‘s new book, Heal Your Way Forward, The Co-Conspirator’s Guide To An Anti-Racist Future. I follow healer, author, speaker, coach, Myisha on Instagram at the suggestion of my Beloved Community buddy, Gabi. I have appreciated Myisha’s “Instagram Lives” with Joquina (Kina) Reed, a Black woman, who is a justice, equity, diversity and inclusion specialist, community advocate, podcaster, and digital content creator.

Just this month, I took part in anti-racism educator, Ashani Mfuko‘s 5-Day Anti-Racism Conversation Confidence Challenge. I realize that even though I’ve been on this journey for a while, it is a life-long process to keep learning and unlearning my own internalized racism, my relationship with white supremacy culture, and get better at having the conversations that need to be had when doing the work. I gained much from taking part in the challenge, especially leaning into Ashani’s guidance in the areas of having curious, open conversations with people who are covertly racist, instead of shaming and blaming.

In my community, as a writer, and artist, I work to support Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and non-Black artists of color, through the arts coordination I facilitate at the hospital I work at. I attend art events–gallery exhibits, poetry readings, plays–led by, and featuring Black artists, and other artists of color. I also work to stay conscious, every day, on how I show up and move through all the spaces I find myself in.

I share all that I’ve been up to, not to say, look at what I’ve done, I’m a “good, white person.” I share it to show some of the ways us white folks can be a part of the transmuting of white supremacy culture and systems of oppression–how to be part of this liberatory work. I believe, as I’m taught by so many, especially so many Black women who lead in this work, that white people, we need to liberate ourselves too. We, who have to remind ourselves that we have a race, and that we are the creators of the systems that now exist that keep white people in the position of power and privilege, and we are not free until all of us are free of these systems. And I don’t share what I’ve been up to to say, look I’ve read all the books, taken all the courses, joined all these groups, and so now I know it all, and I’m good. Absolutely not. As white people, we can learn things and know things, and a lot of us would sure like to keep it at the intellectual knowing part, but until we know it in our hearts, and in our bodies, we will not be a part of the change we need to be a part of. If we simply say we know about racism and white supremacy culture, and keep on living the way we’ve always lived, thinking that the knowing makes us “good, white people,” then we stay complicit in upholding white supremacy and its systems of oppression.

On Uplifting The Work of Black Women

And if you noticed, aside from the white peers I am doing the work with, every person that I mentioned in this post that I have learned and grown with this past year, in reading their work, or engaging with their programming, have been Black women, and women of color. We white women, all of us white folks, need to give credit to all the Black women who are leaders of anti-racism education, activism, and healing work. And to pay them for their work.

Here we are at the beginning of a new year. It is 2023. Now is the time, if you are not already engaging with anti-racism work, to be a part of the work of transmuting white supremacy culture and systems of oppression into a liberatory future where all of us can live free and thrive and belong. There are so many places, and ways to be a part of the change we need. Won’t you look inward and see yourself, and look outward, and before you move forward, like Rev. angel says, “grab a hand.”

I thank you, as always, for taking the time to read this, to reflect on it, and to reach out with any feedback, questions, or conversation you’d like to further engage with.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, peaceful, joyful new year.

———————————————————————————-

Sources:

www.blackgirlinmaine.com

@blackgirlinmaine

www.ashanimfuko.com

@ashanimfukoofficial

www.joquinareed.com

@divestingfromwhiteness

www.myishathill.com

@myishathill

https://www.linkedin.com/in/pilar-mccloud-605ba07b/

https://pilarmccloud.wixsite.com/pilarmccloud

www.engagingacrossdifference.com

@kimberleeyolandawilliams

www.transmutingwhitesupremacyandpatriarchy.com

www.diedrabarber.com

www.maureenbenson.org

www.mindheartconsulting.com

www.revangel.com

www.transformativechange.org

Where Are All My White People At?

5 Mar

Photo credit. wyso.org

A friend suggested I jot down 10 random questions on a sheet of paper, instead of simply sitting down and trying to think of what my next blog post should be about. The questions became prompts. Of course, the very last question was the one: Will us white people ever look in the mirror like author James Baldwin refers to in The Fire Next Time?

What Baldwin knew when he wrote that book in 1963, was that us white people did everything we could to avoid acknowledging anything to do with our own history, and our past and present behaviors. We didn’t, and we don’t, want to acknowledge how this country was not founded on the principle that “all men are created equal.” It instead was founded on stolen lives and violence, through slavery, and through stolen land and genocide of the Indigenous people of North America.

The made up construct of race, with a hierarchy of whiteness seen as superior, and everyone else as other, and inferior, was put into place in order to create and sustain the systems of power and oppression that exist to this day. We white people implemented Jim Crow laws which legalized segregation, and set up laws and policies that allowed white people to live where we wanted to live, obtain a job without worry of discrimination, go to well-resourced schools in our own neighborhoods, work where we wanted to work, conveniently shop where we wanted to shop, take out a business loan or home mortgage with fair interest rates, and take advantage of the GI bill to again, afford to buy a home in a “nice” neighborhood and get that mortgage. Over one million Black veterans at that time were shut out of having the same access and opportunity to those benefits which allowed white families to continue to build even more generational wealth through home ownership.

Yes, when various groups of immigrants arrived in America from Ireland, Italy, and Jews from Eastern Europe, we at first faced discrimination too. But we were allowed to “become white,” and were subsequently afforded all the privileges of those who were called white before us. We got to live The American Dream. We all believed the American motto and individualist myth, that if one just works hard enough, they can achieve whatever it is they want in this country, and if they don’t, it’s because of their own laziness, lack of ambition, and moral inferiority.

We kept, and sill try to keep Black and Brown people from voting. We started the War on Drugs, and allowed crack cocaine to flood Black communities, which led to the mass incarceration of Black men and women, while white men and women either were let go, or served much lighter sentences for the same offenses. We kept and keep corporate boardrooms white, and are more likely to pass over resumes with names that sound Black. We are good as long as our kids get to go to the diverse enough public schools in our neighborhoods, but don’t want to send our kids to under-resourced schools in neighborhoods we silently think of as “too diverse,” of low socio-economic status, unsafe, and inferior in their academics. We don’t blink an eye at how we so easily see ourselves represented in our movies, museums, magazines, teachers, neighbors, co-workers, and we don’t notice who is not included. We pat ourselves on the back for making our workspaces or schools more diverse, but don’t secede our power, or ways of whiteness, thereby not changing the culture, or ways of interrelating and opening up to all perspectives of seeing and deciding on things, and so these spaces stay bound to white supremacist culture and conditioning, and unwelcoming, and block advancement to those who are not white.

And we really, really don’t want to look in the mirror and see all of this, and we don’t want to look into our souls and find all of this history residing there. Even, if our families arrived here in post-slavery times, we have this dust in our souls, and we have all of the heavy footprints of colonization, and white supremacist systems, institutions, societal norms, privileges, and racialized thoughts and behaviors, in every step and breath that we take.

Which brings me to the present. Many of us in this country feel, now is a time of reckoning in regards to race and racism in this country. Many white people are finally waking up to the violence committed against Black men, women and children, primarily by police officers and self-appointed white vigilantes. We have finally heard the call of Black Lives Matter, which fell on our deaf ears for 400 years prior to Trayvon Martin’s murder in 2012. We are finally waking up to all the ways we have oppressed, and continue to oppress Black people in this country.

And so after I jotted down that question about looking in the mirror, I expanded upon it. I free-wrote: will us white people do the work ourselves to unpack our whiteness, heal our rage and trauma that has to do with the racial atrocities we committed, and will we acknowledge, and do the body work, healing work–break it all the way down with, as Resmaa Menakem advised us, with our own selves, and our own white “guru,” not a Black guru, or Indian guru, so that we can truly acknowledge, reconcile, heal and take part in creating a fair, just, equal, equitable, integrated society without white people above any more, but have us truly living side-by-side in society?

Now, I can’t claim to be all woke to therapist and author, Menakem’s work just yet, including his book, My Grandmother’s Hands, Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, because I am not. I just purchased his book, and have listened to him talk in two podcasts. His work focuses on internal generational racial trauma healing through not only working with our minds, but also somatically, through our bodies, where trauma resides. While listening to him, and you should listen, one of the things he said that stood out, was about how us white people really need to do our own healing, and that it has to be with us, and not, as I paraphrased above, by seeking out “Black or Indian gurus…” He went on to say this is going to take a lot of work, and take a long time, but that it must be done.

Which brings me to, doing the work. Where are all my white people at? I know a lot of us, as I’ve noted in recent posts, have been doing a lot of reading about the history of race and racism in this country, reading the works of Black authors–literary works, and works focusing on the work of anti-racism, as well as getting involved in racial justice community actions. I also continue to hear from fellow white people, and from Black and Brown people about white people, whether friends, or on social media, of us still posing the question of “what can I do?” or saying, “I should be doing more.”

Which brings me to: do the work.

Yes, I need to do the work. You, fellow white person, need to do the work. We all, all of us white people, need to do the work. And, what is the work? I’m just a middle-aged, white-skinned Jewish woman on a journey also trying to figure out what that means for me, for us. I am not a scholar, or expert to think I can tell you what to do and how to do it, but here are some thoughts and things I am doing, and striving to do.

The first thing we need to do is look in the mirror like James Baldwin didn’t hold onto hope that we could or would. We can’t do anything without acknowledging the reality of the totality of American history, and the violence and systems of oppression we created and continue to uphold.

Then, we can begin to educate ourselves, which many of us are finally starting to do through reading, and conversation. We have to be willing to get uncomfortable in the conversations we have with Black, Brown and Indigenous people, and to make mistakes, and allow ourselves to be corrected. We have to learn and practice not getting defensive, not over-apologizing, and not shedding white tears. We need to talk amongst ourselves, too, and hold one another accountable, and support one another in this work.

In considering all that needs to be done in educating ourselves, I was reminded of the ideas taught to me through teachers in the metalsmithing and woodworking classes I took, yet, I know this to ring true across all art forms. I remember my metals teacher especially, saying, as students we needed to learn and perfect our technique to the highest level, and then forget it, so that our authentic artistry and creativity could come through.

I believe we need to educate ourselves as fully as we can about racism, and about our own whiteness, and to deeply reflect on ourselves and the way we and those that came before us, have been moving through this world, and only then can we have the tools, and be in touch with our authentic selves, and be able to live the work of being fully human, take ourselves out of being white, and as world renowned author, poet, activist, and spiritual, transformational leader, Sonya Renee Taylor says, ” learn how to live in right relationship” with Black, Brown and Indigenous people in this country.

The Body Is Not An Apology author, Taylor, whose 2nd expanded edition I just purchased, beckons us to begin with “radical self-love.” Another book I am eager to read, I have gained much from following her on Instagram, and in listening to her conversation on the podcast, Eyes on Whiteness. Just the other day, I appreciated her talk on IG about white people taking responsibility. To put it in context, Sonya, who is American, just moved to New Zealand, after having previously split her time between there and the Bay area. I suppose after she announced her move this week, some white people chimed in to say they wish they too, could leave this country.

This talk came right on time for me. It seems lately I’m not only continually waking up to the ways of my own whiteness, but to the ways I have not taken responsibility, or done the work in other areas of my life. I’ve often been instant gratification girl. I want things to just happen. Like the time I urged my friend to send me the chanting meditation cd she had been listening to. A talented artist and poet, my friend had spent some time living in an ashram, practiced yoga, was doing her own spiritual work. She has always been a focused, intense, disciplined person. This was over ten years ago, but I remember her telling me that she was practicing the chanting while visualizing herself winning this poetry publication contest she submitted to. Well, she did win first place, and got her poetry book published. I can’t remember what I was hoping I’d win by possessing the cd, but I knew I just couldn’t get my hands on it fast enough. When it did finally arrive, I was thrilled. Now I’d be more spiritual, and more stuff in the universe would come to me. I don’t think I ever took the plastic wrapper off the cd set.

I say I want a lovely home, but don’t put in the time cleaning, painting, or de-cluttering. I say I want to be in love, but haven’t been consistent in making the effort to put myself out there, and to be fully present with the men I have met. Divorced for 8 1/2 years now, I know I sometimes hope that something magical will just happen, and I will live happily ever after. Cutting myself some slack along with all of you, for just trying to make it through this pandemic while working full-time at a psychiatric hospital, and hoping I’m holding up my two daughters’ spirits as they move through all of this too, I recently came to the revelation of still needing to put in some energy and effort. I need to do some work reckoning with my past, and open myself up to be able to give and receive love, so I can move forward and be present to the possibility of having a relationship. I am certain I will also need to practice the radical self-love that Sonya Renee Taylor speaks of to find my way in this.

See my pattern, and what I’m getting at? These things are much lighter than doing the work of breaking down racism, but I bring them up because we have to be willing to do the work. It will not be easy. We will not achieve enlightenment, or rewards, for doing the work we should have been doing since we first arrived in this country. But it is our responsibility.

In Sonya Renee Taylor’s talk, she said that some white people think, “the responsibility for solving issues of white supremacy delusion is on Black people’s shoulders.” She went on to say that it is white people’s responsibility to fix this. We created it. We need to figure out how to fix it, and fix it. She also said, that we have the “inhumane luxury” to propose to Black people that they make their needs or demands in a way that is comfortable to us–that we want it said in a certain way, a way that can’t sound angry–that we try and get away with simply having hope. That we say things like “I believe in the possibility of change,” but then do nothing. Or we say, “its too hard, or too slow, or too depressing.” Ultimately, as I shared above, Taylor says, our responsibility is to “make right relationship” with Black, Brown and Indigenous people here in America. We don’t, as Taylor says, just get to, up and leave America because we don’t like it here, and let racism and its systems of oppression continue to fester and rule, and then go run off to some other country where we can continue to live out our exploitive, gentrifying, white supremacist ways in other lands.

It is interesting to me that both Sonya Renee Taylor’s and Resmaa Menakan’s books relate to working to liberate ourselves through working with our bodies. As someone much more in tune with my emotions and instincts–heart over head–I am looking forward to taking my time with both of these important works.

We won’t fix racism or cure ourselves of our whiteness overnight, but we can’t afford to take any more time to start doing the work of fixing ourselves, and undoing racism and racist systems. We can’t wait until we think we know everything. We will never know everything. This is a journey, and we need to, if we haven’t already started, to start right now. Educate ourselves, and be hypervigilant about how whiteness is operating within ourselves, within other people, and within the spaces we find ourselves in.

Have the uncomfortable conversations. Make mistakes. Accept responsibility. Strive to do better next time. Speak up at your child’s school when you see how the white-led PTO is not including the voices, concerns, and desires of parents of color. Speak up at your workplace when your white co-worker makes a micro-aggression, or note the fact your non-profit organization’s administrators and board of directors does not include anyone representative of the community you serve. Get to know who the Black leaders in your community are. Find out ways you can support Black leaders, and Black-led organizations, without being a burden by asking them to tell you exactly what you should do. Share resources, either dollars, volunteering of time and/or skills, and show up at community events. Find out what the voting rights are like in your community, and get involved if things need to change for the better. Join an activist organization like Standing Up For Racial Justice, a movement of white people who come together to learn about racism, activism, whiteness, and fight for racial justice. There is so much we can, and need to do. There is so much we must do.

Are you ready? Where are all my white people at? Will you join me? May I join you?