I chose the word expedition because I visualize myself exploring the controversial and possibly dangerous territory of racism. Racism and white people are two terms that educated, progressive, and compassionate white people may think only apply to the KKK or white supremacists. I’ve realized that is not true. First and foremost, I am a learner. My top strengths in Tom Rath’s book and assessment, Strengthsfinder 2.0 is “learner”. I naturally gather information and learn about what interests me or what I think I need to know.
After the death of George Floyd, I was sickened. I could not even watch the entire video because I did not want to see what I consider torture. Listening to the news, I saw the protests on TV, and tried to educate myself. The idea of this blog came to me after Don Lemon said, “Silence is not an option”. I realized that I didn’t know enough to talk intelligently about race, discrimination, white privilege, or racism.
I started doing my own research online and reading books. What is racism or white privilege? What does “Black Lives Matter” really mean? Sometimes resources jump out at me. I find them on linked in from valued friends and colleagues. Other times, I search and search for the video on YouTube that speaks to me. I found a video on Facebook that helped me better understand white privilege. In this blog series, I will discuss white privilege and racism. While I was designing a class about diversity and inclusion, I realized that most of the participants were white men. I found a Ted Talk by Michael Welp. One of the take-aways of this Ted Talk, for me, is that it is difficult to see your own culture. Welp describes it as “describing water to a fish”.
Books were recommended to me and I wish to share them with you. White Fragility by Robin Diangelo taught me more about my culture as a white woman and how it relates to being racist. The examples described in the book helped me understand my thoughts and behavior and how to behave better in the future. How to be an antiracist by ibram x. kendi gave me a different perspective on life in the US depending on race, gender, sex and other characteristics of people. My friend and former colleague sent me the book, Waking up White: and finding myself in the story of race, by Debby Irving.
This research helps change my opinions/life but, only gets me so far. I want to know how I can help my friends of color without making them feel awkward or worse. I do not wish to hurt them or others, in any way with my ignorance. What do they need me to do? How can I support them, or is that inappropriate to ask? I am full of questions. My goal is to ask questions, educate myself and possibly other people as well. I hope to create a series of 4 or 5 blog posts to share my journey with all of you.
My intentions are good. I come from a place of learning and love and I want to know what I don’t know! I am willing to have these conversations with my colleagues. The people I chose I consider peers, colleagues, and friends. My hope is to have rational discussions about this topic to educate myself and others. Most importantly, the overall goal is to make the world a better place for all of us. Please forgive me in advance because I know I will make some mistakes. Hopefully, I won’t offend anyone, but if that happens, please let me know.
Coming from a place of love,