It is fear that reinforces the walls we build, people are afraid to be swayed from their convictions, afraid to question their moral instincts and expose themselves to ideas that may challenge the fabric of their entire existence, but what are we if we are not seeking to better ourselves?
― Aysha Taryam
I am no expert. I am just a human, appalled, confused, saddened and angered by events that have happened recently in my country. George Floyd, Christian Cooper, Ahmaud Arbery. . . their experiences and lives have been so devastating to me that I find I don’t have the right words. But then I’m stuck. What do we do about this? If this is so upsetting (as it is and should be), how can we prevent it? How can we raise ourselves and our children to not just be not-racist but be anti-racist? How do I become more aware of what I’m doing, implying, saying, teaching so I actively change lives for the better?
I think, at least it makes sense to me, to start with ourselves. “The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an antiracist,” says writer Ijeoma Oluo. “Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.” Racism is a spectrum. It’s not either You Are or You’re Not. It’s to what degree. Recently on social media, Padma Lakshmi said, “To be socially conscious we must unlearn toxic attitudes & behavior that have been passed down to us over generations in our communities or even in our families. We all need to question our biases, educate ourselves and commit to bettering ourselves.”
I highly recommended Harvard’s implicit bias test. Everyone has some amount of bias. I think towards everything, right? But if we aren’t aware of our bias or (worse) believe we don’t have them, then we (obviously) can’t do anything to fix them. I wish everyone would take this test.
There are myriad books and journals and reputable articles that speak on systemic racism and our implied, unconscious tendencies. Books that have helped are Waking Up White, The Fire This Time and This Book is Anti-Racist (this one is for younger readers, but it was perfectly applicable to me). This illustrated list is good, as well, if you want a picture to print out and work from (I might or might not have done this). Also, if you’re a watcher rather than a reader, this series is highly acclaimed – I have not seen it yet, but am looking forward to it.
Disclaimer: I am pro-life. I am very much a supporter and protector of all life, from conception to natural death. I believe we all have God given dignity, that no man or woman can take away. I believe reasons of convenience, quality of life, intellectual capacity, poverty, marital status, age, conception circumstances – are excuses to not stare at the actual issue and admit you don’t believe in the sanctity of a human being. None of these details increases or diminishes a human being’s worth and right to live. I know we don’t all agree on this, but I need to say two things:
One – It takes courage to look at an issue and admit you might be wrong, you might be misinformed, you might have been living it all backwards for longer than you care to admit. I don’t want to be a racist, but I’ve done racist things. It hurts to say that, and I’m sorry for every time I’ve been wrong. By admitting this and recognizing it though, I can continue to grow and change for the better. Two – being anti-racist is also being pro-life. To be truly pro-life, you must be pro-all life. And, if you’re anti-racism, are you then, by default, pro-life? I’m not a logician, but it makes sense to me. I’m quoting extensively here from a column written by Patrick Winn:
Of all the moral issues that beget political campaign slogans, racism seems to make people squirm the most. Abortion has its “reproductive rights” supporters, capital punishment its “law and order” proponents, and suicide has “death with dignity” apologists. But too few in the pro-life movement seem ready to take their arguments into the racism conversation. And too many in the “prochoice” movement do not shudder when their actions and beliefs are traced to the stridently racist eugenics pedigree of Planned Parenthood and its founder, Margaret Sanger. All. . .pro-life teachings are rooted in justice. But. . . we live in a world that is not always governed by justice, but by a “lust to dominate.” Whether it’s taking fatal sides against a developing baby, determining that a person or class of people, e.g., the elderly or disabled, is unworthy of life, or by deciding that a race or ethnic group is somehow inferior because of skin color or country of origin, the lust to dominate is a force that must be met head on. We are called. . . to treat people as equals in the arenas of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Really, what else is there? . . . We now speak and act to expose and oppose the continuing existence of racism that comes from that lust to dominate. The injustice of racism and abortion are attacks on human life. They disproportionately affect people of color and other minorities who have the greatest numbers in jail and in poverty. . .
Please let me know what you’re reading, doing, writing, thinking. I’d really like to know. Thank you for talking this through with me.