Date: Written 3rd June 2020, posted 7th June
Location: Isle of Wight
Category: Tough stuff
Un-learn, re-learn, dismantle
I’m not ashamed to say this. As a white person, born and bred in Africa, this last week and especially yesterday (2nd June) slapped me hard around the face – forced me to wake up. Why has it taken me so long? And why has it taken another death of a black person to shake me out of my safe space?
If you are a person of colour, you would probably say “about f*** time, you finally showed up“.
I woke this morning feeling heavy, overwhelmed. And I turned to social media to help me work out how to educate myself and do my own work.
- Whose voices can I listen to and learn from?
- How can I share and amplify those voices in my own sphere of influence, however small?
- Where can I find resources to help me do my own work?
And that is what I will be doing from now on. A cycle of researching, listening and learning. And initialling change, where I can, in my own circles and sphere of influence.
I sit with my feelings of discomfort and unbalance.
Non everyday delights.
Jean Piaget called this “disequilibrium” and is a necessary part of learning. Eventually, the state of confusion will balance out and I will assimilate these ideas into my mind and reach a new state of equilibrium.
As a middle aged, white woman, that means a lot of “un-learning” of everything I have been taught, taken for granted and lived with – most importantly my colonial upbringing. It means re-learning, and re-learning, until I can move forward with understanding and engage mindfully and helpfully. And be active.
I accept how I am feeling. And work with that.
So today, I am stepping into the hard, personal work of unlearning, re-learning what I need to do on myself first and foremost. Empower myself and get on with it!
Saying I’m apolitical is the biggest cop out there is and a benefit of my white privilege.
Being silent is no longer an option.
My first step?
Reading “My White Supremacy” by Layla Saad, described as “an indispensable resource for white people who want to challenge white supremacy but don’t know where to begin” [Robin DiAngelo]
Other steps will follow, as I find my feet in this space and find other resources to learn from. I’m sure my words will be clumsy and the way I present my ideas will be cumbersome, but it is only through the process of intense personal work and learning that these will begin to take shape into something that matters.