I do not believe I am a racist. I certainly am not a hater. The events of this past week have awakened me to the fact that not being racist, not hating, is not enough.
Racism is not only conscious hate. “Racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on.” Scott Woods.
I grew up in Geneva, Switzerland, a white city in a country where neutrality and diplomacy are national hallmarks (indeed, a country that has its own struggles with racism). I am a conflict avoider. Privacy is one of my core values. I am a “glass half full” person and always give others the benefit of the doubt, to the extent that some have called me naïve.
I have always known that my life as a white woman has been easier than the lives of so many – yet I have never asked myself specifically about white privilege. As a child, the extent of race conversations I had with my parents was limited to asking what “macaroni” meant when someone called me this in middle school. My Italian father explained, I ignored the slur, and that was that.
I realized this week that I have been so blind to the perspective of people of color that I have never had a race conversation with my oldest, bestest of friends – whom I have known since the age of 12. She is Indian. She and I have over the years spoken about everything, yet we have never spoken about race. Probably because I have never asked, because I didn’t want to have that uncomfortable conversation. For that same reason, I have been silent when my white girlfriends have said things (about politics, about race, about other topics not in the news today) I did not agree with. The events of this past week have awakened me to the fact that my silence is compliance.
I must speak up. Yet I have been paralyzed about what to say. I am afraid to say the wrong thing. I am afraid to sound tone deaf. I am afraid to offend. In a way, I am also afraid not to offend. The events of this past week have awakened me as to how much more I must do, as a human, as a white woman, to work against racism and hatred, to work for equality and opportunity for all. I must do better. I must be better.
These are my commitments.
I commit to recognizing my white privilege.
I commit to educating myself. And yes, it is a privilege to be educating myself about racism instead of experiencing it. To start, I commit to reading How to be Less Stupid about Race (Crystal M. Fleming), White Fragility (Robin Diangelo), Me and White Supremacy (Layla F. Saad) (including doing the 28-day workbook), Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates).
I commit to listening. Including to listening about why the violence and destruction of the past few days is necessary to bring about awareness change.
I commit to evolving my social media feed to be more focused on race issues, more inclusive. Here are some accounts I am now following.
I commit to donating regularly to associations that fight for racial equality. This week, these include NAACP, ACLU, and Equal Justice Initiative.
I commit to using my voice. This blog post is a start.
I commit to making my brand Alchimie Forever more inclusive.
I commit to voting. Locally, nationally.
I commit to doing the work. To doing better. To being better. Not just today, not just this week. But for however long it takes.
I commit to being anti-racist. “It is not enough to be quietly non-racist, now is the time to be vocally anti-racist.” Angela Davis