The story of racism, freedom and equal rights for everyone and being white.
Brandon Goodman’s (@BrandonKGood) live on Instagram this morning (Saturday 19th July 2020) was powerful. If my freedom comes at the expense of someone else’s life, that’s not freedom – that’s privilege. His live pointed me to this video by Dr Bertrice Berry called “How will you tell this story“. I’ve watched Dr Berry’s video and for those of us currently on a journey to learn how to be anti-racist, the questions she leaves us with are thought provoking and worthy of reflection.
She says that this story of anti-racism has a past, present and a future and operates at a micro and macro level. The micro level is me and my sphere of influence. The macro level is the bigger narrative at national and international levels. Yet what I do at my micro level is intimately connected to what happens at macro level – it is the ground swell that will make the difference on way or another. I’ll come back to this shortly.
Dr Berry asks us to choose which side of the story to be on: “collective amnesia” or being a good ancestor?
Her reflection questions:
- Where do I want to be with regards to this story?
- Where is my legacy to be?
- How do I want my grandchildren to see me / feel about me?
- What do I want the end of this story to be?
What do I believe and value?
I believe in a connected universe – we do not live in a bubble of individuality – what we do affects others on a small and large scale. The energies we project, contribute to the universal energies. If we project fear, anger and selfishness, that is what we create and perpetuate. The things we think, say and do have a profound effect on others and ourselves. The way we treat people is a reflection of how we treat ourselves.
We cannot afford to be ignorant or have “collective amnesia” when we are all connected. As Dr Berry points out, others freedom is part of my freedom, their rights are connected to my rights. If I work to improve the lives of others (not in a tokenistic or white savourism way but in a real way), it improves me and my community.
I have always believed myself to be “one of the good white people” in that I don’t “see” colour and treat everyone the same. But having just finished working through the book “Me and my white supremacy” by Layla Saad and currently working through Rachel Cargle‘s (@Rachel.Cargle) 30 day Do The Work Course, I see that this belief doesn’t actually help people of colour in the slightest. I have a lot of work to do – unlearning my conditioning, history; in finding my courage and voice and learning how to support people of colour more actively and effectively. I had a major aha about this recently when I discovered a web of unconscious reasons why I don’t stand up to take action, preferring to hide behind an “apolitical” stance. You can read more about this in this post: White silence and me
My anti-racism journey is vitally important (for me and how we dismantle systemic racism).
How will I tell this story? What choice will I make?
We have a choice to make, and I’m glad that in the last 6 weeks, I have started to educate myself enough to be able to make that choice with awareness and some level of understanding about what it means to make that choice.
Unequivocally, my choice is to be on the side of being a good ancestor, even though I may not live to see my grandchildren (I’m almost 56 and my son is only 21 and I’ve told him there is no hurry to have babies!)
I am a teacher. I have worked with and continue to work with primary school children. So, even without the legacy of grandchildren, I can be a good ancestor, right?
I want my legacy to be on the side of being and doing better. I want those children and other people to think about me and say that I did the work to educate myself, to unlearn my conditioning, to acknowledge and actively work against my white privilege, to play my micro part in dismantling systemic racism and transforming my life into something my son and his children would be proud of.
What I’m searching for is how I do that effectively with passion, intention and in alignment with my values, within my sphere of influence. In other words how and where can I take the most effective action at my micro level?
While I am working that out, my job is to continue to read, watch, listen, learn, respect boundaries and keep it zipped when I am in spaces hosted by Black folk. To amplify Black voices, to support Black business, organisations and to speak out if I see racism in action.
Please, let’s #DoTheWork and #ShowUp
Which side will you choose?
For other posts about anti-racism and my unlearning journey, see my #DoTheWork tag