I’ve been talking to a lot of other white folks lately. Mostly in the days since the protests have been roiling in every US city and around the world. Also the days since our workplaces put out “Black Lives Matter” statements that maybe came a little too late and rang a little too hollow.
We’ve been reading and furiously reposting every social media post about which books to read, where to give, and how to show up in protests and conversations about race as, well… NOT assholes. These are good things.
We’re acting like we’re cramming for the anti-racism quiz. It’s a pop quiz, and it could come at any time. It’s pass/fail and we do not fail.
Why are we white folks pulling these all-nighters all of a sudden? Maybe we’ve been slacking a little with the syllabus thinking we could just catch up before the final. Maybe we are never asked or challenged about white supremacy and what the hell we’re doing about it, so we’ve never had to develop a sense of history, a point of view. And the time has come.
This new sense of urgency is both great and… must be harnessed. What I mean is that an unchecked sense of urgency is a big ol’ hallmark of white supremacy culture. We’re great at getting shit done, but at what cost? With whose voices included or excluded for the sake of expediency? We move fast, sacrificing good, deep relationships. Then we all end up feeling crappy about hastily made decisions at best, or we suffer terrible consequences at worst.
May I humbly offer a little antidote? A little pump of the brakes?
My favorite illustration from childhood by Mary Engelbreit, Bloom Where You’re Planted:
Lately I can’t stop thinking about this beautifully cheesy piece. I might need to cross-stitch it. Here’s what it means to me in this moment:
We’re not just trying to pass the pop quiz; we’re trying to make meaningful change, starting with ourselves. This is in all areas of life. This is for our whole lives. Starting right now, right where we are.
So let’s take a deep breath and get to work.
My next blog will be about digging in and finding sustainable ways to combat white supremacy in multiple areas of our lives.
But you like to work ahead? See, I know you. Here’s a tiny bit of pre-work:
Identify your spheres of influence.
We all live in community and usually have groups of people we connect with. Think PTA, work friends, our religious communities, volunteer groups, recovery groups, neighbors. These are the places you already have regular connection if not deep relationships. You share some aspect of identity or mission. Make a list. That’s it. More soon.