I began this blog on March 14, writing about the early stages COVID-19 as it made its way closer to home. I wrote about the fears I held for my parents, siblings, friends….for all of us. I made a commitment to write every weekday through the end of May. Thus ends this particular exercise in discipline. I wish this final post could be a positive one, and that I could write about how we are flattening the curve and how I’m a bit more hopeful about going back to school in the fall. But, I feel the need to write about a deeper, more insidious illness that is far older than the CoronaVirus: Racism.
Many others have said it better than I: as white people, we need to recognize our privilege, understand how systemic racism perpetuates the status quo, and accept that kindness alone is not enough. We need to disrupt racism through education and action. Over and over again, we see the horrific videos of Black people dying, shake our heads in frustration, and then do nothing.
Many will stop reading when they see the title of this post; they are tired of reading about racism, they don’t want to feel sickened or upset, and they just want to focus on kindness. Unfortunately, turning away, thinking I’m kind, I’m not like that, isn’t enough.
There are things we can do. Start reading books about racism. A few that have moved me: White Fragility, How to be an Anti-Racist, Just Mercy, Heavy, and Not Light, But Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom. Here’s a list with many more. Next, organize conversations around race. Use the free resources at Building Anti-Racist White Educators (BARWE) to meet monthly and engage in real conversations about race. Be prepared to examine your biases and get vulnerable.
I will never know what it feels like to be Black in America. I do know that being a white American male, I feel embarrassed by the fact that history keeps showing us that some lives matter more than others.