10 Things I’m Learning about Race

I’m slowly and learning and unlearning some important lessons about race through podcasts, articles, books, the Be the Bridge Facebook group, and activists. I wanted to jot down these ideas while they were fresh in my mind and to track how my thinking changes. These thoughts may not be perfectly worded, but it’s where I’m at in my journey towards becoming actively anti-racist and a participant in racial reconciliation.

10 Things I'm Learning About Race

  1. White people are coddled. So much of the language involved in race conversations is sugar coated so that white people won’t run and hide. Unconcious bias? You really didn’t mean to do all those racist things. White supremacy? White domination is more accurate. White privilege? Nah. White undeserved advantage. This article from Huff Post walks through many race buzzwords and explains how they are intended to protect white people’s feelings. We need to toughen up. We get bent out of shape when we’re offended by tone and terms, meanwhile, black people are targeted and killed waiting for public transportation. #NiaWilson #SayHerName

  2. We are biologically wired to respond to threatening information the same way we’d respond to a predator. This is called the backfire effect and scientific studies examined the brain’s response to threatening information. No wonder why any type of debate on Facebook ends catastrophically. We can’t change this response, but if we’re aware of it, we can be more mindful of why we’re feeling the way we do. I’ve caught myself feeling defensive because my beliefs were challenged, but have forced myself to sit with that discomfort instead of responding. This comic about how our brain responds to challenging information is incredibly enlightening. Be warned that it comes with some strong language. I read this comic months ago and I can’t stop thinking about it and the way our brains work. PLEASE, take the time to click on the link.

  3. Diversity is not racial reconciliation. Reconciliation is going to cost you something.

  4. Diversity is a step, but it so often ends in token efforts. We want a person of color to sing a song on the stage of our churches, but do they have a voice at the table?

  5. We want people of color to come to our churches but the expectation is that they assimilate into our culture. I was listening to this podcast episode with Latasha Morrison and she rattled off a list of all of the white Christian artists and songs she knew. How many worship songs do I know from artists of color? None. Tasha explained that for poc, learning to fit into the dominant culture is something minority groups have to do every day. We don’t even make an effort to learn about or incorporate theirs.

  6. If you don’t have friends and co-workers from diverse backgrounds, there are baby steps you can take to change that. One way I’m challenging myself to change that is by going to parks and libraries outside of my neighborhood.

  7. Every activist I’ve listened to ends their talks/interview with a plea for anyone listening to just start reading. They want people to educate themselves on the history of race relations in our world and the problems we face today. It’s surprisingly simple. I mean, yes, it will take time and effort to really learn, but read? I can do that.

  8. Peacekeepers are not peacemakers. If we want changes to occur, we need to be ready for confrontation. Keeping the peace is not the end goal, especially when there are so many people in our country living a disadvantaged life. It’s time to flip some tables.

  9. I need to listen, listen some more, and then listen again. This is fruitless if I’m not listening to people exposing me to issues and worldviews outside of my bubble. I’ve recently started following activists Kendrick Sampson, Angela Rye and Brittany Packnett on Instagram and I’m thankful for the light they shed on issues with simple social media updates. You can’t be outraged by injustice and moved to action if you don’t even know what’s going on.

  10. Change will happen with or without the support of white people. While reading “I’m Still Here” by Austin Channing Brown, she wrote about how all throughout history change has been pushed through by POC and the support of some whites. While I wish more white people cared about the oppression of POC in our county, it’s encouraging to know that change isn’t dependent on all of us white people finally accepting the truth that inequalities exist and systemic racism is oppressing millions. Through the reading I’ve already completed, I’m constantly reminded of the importance and success of grassroots organizations. It’s incredible what small efforts of bravery and solidarity turned into. Convictions overturned. Laws changed. Lives saved. I’ve realized how important it is for me now to stand with groups already doing the hard work of advocating for justice. I’m hoping to write a post about organizations advocating for change and how we (especially white people) can come alongside them.

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