Monday, August 3, 2020

I'm a Racist

Got your attention, didn't I? It's definitely something hard to admit, but over the last two months I've had a lot of time to reflect. Yes, even with a newborn. One of the things that I've realized is that I've definitely done things that were racist, whether I knew it or meant it at the time or not.

Let's be very clear. I am not, and never have been, overtly racist. While I've definitely used racist language, I've never directed it a person. That doesn't make it okay. I've also said things that seem positive, but are racist, for example that black people have good singing voices (a thought I definitely did have).

So, one of the things I've had to come to terms with since the death of George Floyd and the subsequent reignition of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations is that despite the fact that I'm not overtly racist, there are racist things that are inherent in me that aren't my fault, nor my parents', but rather part of this country.

Some of those things are the way we learn history. I'm reading Lies my Teacher Told Me which is an eye-opening book, especially for a TEACHER! I won't go in to details about the things I've learned, because I'm honestly somewhat ashamed of the things I haven't learned until the summer of my fortieth year.

So, coming to terms with that is pretty difficult. It's especially tough for someone whose worked very hard not to judge a person until he gets to know them. I don't look at a person's ethnicity as anything other than part of their story that I'm generally anxious to hear. As trite as it is, skin color doesn't play a role in whether or not I judge a person's value.

Look. Overall, this is hard to articulate. Part of that is because of the difficulty in tone on the interwebs, and part of that is because it's difficult for me to speak to what this is without rambling on and making it sound defensive.

If you're reading this, you likely know my heart. I hope you understand that my admission of, "I'm a racist" is a step in my ongoing effort to be better. I want to be a better parent, better friend, and better citizen. I've mentioned in a previous blog how as much as I fancy myself an ally to marginalized groups, I screw up as often, if not moreso, than I get allyship right.

Was this intentionally controversial? The title, yes. But I needed to get this off my chest. While this is hard to type, I needed it out there. Lies my Teacher Told Me is the first book I'm reading to help make myself better. Next will be So You Want to Talk About Race? and then White Fragility. I often say that I hope I never think of myself as a great teacher because that may cause me to stop striving to improve. On the same token, I sort of hope I'm never completely anti-racist. I hope I can continue to grow and be better. My kids and all future generations deserve that.