Many race researchers write about White ppl who refuse to learn about race & racism.— DrawntoIntellect (@Drawn2Intellect) April 25, 2020
What prompts a White person to *want* to engage in critical race studies, and/or readings/discussions about race & racism?
Serious answers welcome.
Why do white people do this work? All I can do is answer for myself, my observations, and what others have helped me learn so that I can share that message. If this is not your experience or life path, I understand. I would ask that you not add qualifiers.
I woke up this morning and pre-wrote in my head. It was a passionate message. I began to think of our world in the divided places: we are currently in extremism of thought and more dangerously, action. We have those of us who believe in climate science, vaccinations, that COVID19 is serious, that humans have basic rights to their choice of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness: we believe in children, and life, hope, and love. We may have a faith that guides us. We may be atheist. We may have our own children we’re raising, or helping raise others’ children. Or both. But we have two distinct groups: those that want all of us to live our life in peace, to thrive, to support, and those that do not. Now, the issue is, those that do not think they do. Hence, the conflict.
We as a nation have never loved its children. We have only loved heirs. And for those that say the damning phrase, “We are not like this” we are. We sure as hell are.
All white people are currently sitting in present tense benefitting from systemic racism. And for me, and why I do anti-racist work, it’s too high a price for so little benefit. It takes too much from me, my husband, and my sons. It takes too much for too little return for my students and their families. This “benefit” includes killing children in my ‘white’ name. And I will not allow it. I will speak up. Those that support systemic racism, whether overtly or subconsciously, are under the delusion and hellscape cognitive dissonance that this is as good as the world gets, for them, and them only. And I hate their idea of the world. It’s filled with hate, blood, and grief.
We have removed children from their families, their cultures, their heritages. Generation after generation. We have traumatized children. We are monsters.
I don’t want to be a monster.
One story I tell is when I lived in Tehran when I was 12, when I came back to the States I felt like I had been to another planet, another world, and the people I returned to, mostly white, privileged Colorado suburban kids, were so centered and stuck in their thinking, I pushed my experiences and knowledge aside, made myself smaller, tried to fit in, and sadly I realized that I tried to reacclimate myself to a lesser world–the one where white people ruled the history books, and no one questioned it. We high school teenagers wept over stories of the Holocaust, and then put it in the past. There was no voice or information to help us frame the larger scope, the endless, bloody history that was looming over everything else. We knew nothing of our nation and its history, and systemic racism ensured that. And for that, I am enraged. How dare they? How dare they give us the sense we were ‘educated’ when we were kept ignorant? And the fact that there are white people who adore the current racist, white supremacist, bigoted “president” swim in the sea of ignorance and hate. And I am out of tolerance. They stole from me. They stole from everyone.
Why do I do anti-racist work? Because of the blond, white boy who spit on a man in Tehran. The boy was riding in a Tehran American School bus and yelled “raghead” at him and spit on him. This was 1976. And he’s still out there, that boy, and he must be stopped. His legacy must not exist. He is the Kavanaugh, the Roof, the dog whistle turned siren of hate. That boy is the embodiment of everything I’ve grown to distrust and fear, and fight back. Oh, and he has a white wife, too, who also works on his side in some misguided quest with a Wagner soundtrack. He does not get to be the hero of his story, or of any story. His time is over.
I’m sitting in discomfort and sorrow. I’ve lost friends, have estranged family members. I will never get an apology from them, never be told that I was right. In fact, I am often told I’m stupid. The personified demons of cognitive dissonance, denial of death, confirmation bias and racism are not backing down. And I will never hear that apology, nor should I want to, not anymore. Monsters are not contrite.
Why do I do anti-racist work? Because our children deserve knowledge. They deserve power. They deserve agency and love to live their best lives, enjoy the beauty, wonder and joy of our planet. They deserve to love whom they choose, live in safety, pursue their passions, and cherish their faiths, cultures, families, and freedom, freedom to support one another in love.
If you can abide children in cages, I do not have time for you. You are not worthy. You have chosen hate over love. If you join us, and help us, you’re welcome anytime. But for now, sit down, shut up, and get out of our way.