It’s difficult to talk about racism. It’s an emotional topic and one that can get heated and divide people even further, but it’s something we need to speak up about. It’s so easy for white people to ignore racial injustice, or worse not realize how by inaction we’re contributing to it. But the amazing thing is that via the internet, we can connect, educate ourselves, and learn how to do better — starting now.
The events that have gone on this week in the USA have left me — like many of you — outraged, ashamed, and most of all sad. I try to keep Oui In France on the lighter side because life in general is heavy enough. But the fact that I have the option to turn a blind eye to what happened to George Floyd (and so many others) is indicative of my white privilege.
I know you don’t come to my blog specifically for my thoughts on racism, but please consider this conversation anyway. Above being a blogger or an American in France, I’m a human being just like you and I think we need need to talk about this. It’s not “off brand” to bring up a tough topic. I know people will unfollow me and I’m OK with that — although I’m not sure why condemning racism would cause people to leave. I hesitated on publishing this because people have issues either way. Say something and you’re virtue signaling, don’t say anything at all and you’re hiding behind privilege. I think we all need to stand up for what is right and this felt right to me.
Using any platform and privilege I have to help spread awareness on everything happening right now is the least I can do. It’s the bare minimum and doesn’t deserve any thanks because it’s not about me. I think it’s hard sometimes to say anything at all… so we don’t, for fear of what people will think or say. We avoid the hard conversations with ourselves and our loved ones because we can. We’re scared to say the wrong thing and make things worse. I’m far from perfect and can’t pretend I know what it’s like to be a person of color. I’m the first to admit I didn’t understand white privilege and its implications 10 years ago like I do now. Still, I can do better and am continuing to educate myself.
White privilege isn’t about feeling guilty or being told that you are personally responsible for the woes of the world, or that you didn’t have a hard life, or work hard to be where you are. What it is about is acknowledging that the color of our skin isn’t one of the things that has made life harder. It’s about knowing there’s a power dynamic at play and being able to listen to Black people’s lived experiences. It’s about treating everyone with respect.
First, we need to listen and educate ourselves. To clarify, I don’t talk about politics on my blog and I won’t. This isn’t about that. It’s about human rights. Human decency. And standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. It’s not about taking sides and pointing fingers. Or shaming anyone. It’s about acknowledging that racism exists. It’s alive and well and it needs to stop.
I don’t have the answers. I don’t have any magic words. I am not an expert on race issues. What I am is emotionally exhausted from all the ugliness I’ve seen online this past week and the conversations I’ve had with people who don’t seem to get it. Black Lives Matter!
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Online you’ve probably seen sentiments that say it’s not good enough to not be a racist. We have to be vocally anti-racist. What does that mean? It means that we speak up if someone makes a racist joke. We confront our racist uncle when he uses the n-word. We have conversations that are uncomfortable. We stand up. We sign petitions. We donate (I did to UNCF and Equal Justice Initiative).
- Ibram X. Kendi’s writing
- Cup of Jo “On Becoming Anti-Racist”
- Melyssa Griffin’s resource document
- Tips from a therapist on how to talk to family about race
- Emily Henderson “The Tragedy Of George Floyd And My Responsibility In The Anti-Racist Movement”
- This Medium piece details 75 ways white people can combat racism.
- If your response to hearing “Black Lives Matter,” is “All Lives Matter,” even if it’s coming from a good place, read this to understand why that’s problematic.
- An eye-opening book called White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism plus an entire anti-racist reading list.
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I feel like now more than ever, we need to truly listen. We need to stop being defensive. Stop invalidating other people’s lived experiences. Stop ignoring the elephant in the room. Stop turning a blind eye because we can. If we do nothing to combat racial injustice, then nothing will ever change.
We have to do better. I’m not an expert on any of this but I have a heart and a conscience. And I’m tired.