Like many well-meaning white people, I’ve been galvanized to action by the latest round of irrefutable evidence that we live in a racist society. I want to do all of the things I should have been doing for years– right now, today, and to not stop until it’s fixed. That is an incredibly foolish approach. I don’t have the emotional stamina to take in the pain of the injustice on top of my shame for ignoring it for so long all at once. When I try to force myself, I break. Then, on top of hundreds of years of injustice, there is a sad white lady pulling focus from the actual problem.
I also worry that while I’m motivated and focused now, eventually the protests will die down, and the news will move onto the next thing. Racism will still be here, but if I don’t have a blaring reminder of it every day, what will stop me from sinking back into my cloud of white privilage?
I want to get better at being anti-racist, and I don’t want to rely on remembering that racism is a problem to do my part to fix it. I want fighting racism to be part of my life the way brushing my teeth and going to work is part of my life.
So I’m going to try something that seems insufficient, but that might work. I’m going to add “fight racism” to my habit tracking app. So now in addition to “eat green foods” and “meditate” I’ll be reminded to take at least one solid step toward fighting racism* every day. In doing so, I’ll build my capacity to look at what is unjust and take action in manageable pieces. I’ll pick myself up when I fall instead of looking for comfort from others. It won’t be flashy and it won’t be near enough, but it will be something.
And maybe, if enough other well-meaning white people do the same thing we’ll be able to look back at this time as the days when white people woke up, and didn’t turn over and go back to sleep.
*If you want to join me, but aren’t sure what those actions should be, Here are some of the lists I’ve been working from. If you know of others, please add the to the comments.
Anti-Racism Resources for White People