For me, the holidays represent family, connection, gratitude, giving and receiving. Then I begin to wonder about the historical context of the many different celebrations around this time of year. Social norms in the U.S. have shifted from Merry Christmas to Happy Holidays to respect those who don't celebrate the holiday that I was brought up with.
But what about all the other ways I may be negating another person's experience that I don't even know about?!
Recently I've been reflecting on how my experience of the world as a white person is different than black, brown, and indigenous people. I have been educating myself and looking internally about what it means to be a white person in today's society. Racism is a poison that continues to thrive.
While there may be less overt bigotry, this has made it easier for white people to ignore the prevalence of racism.
To recognize how racism exists today I have had to retrain myself to become aware of how the systems we have in America benefit me as a white person and oppress black, brown, and indigenous people.
On a daily basis, I participate in and benefit from a society based on systems that are designed to support my whiteness and oppress black, brown, and indigenous people.
Racism is something that white people get to choose whether or not to address. It is not a choice for black, brown, and indigenous people. It can be uncomfortable to look at.
When I think about how much comfort I've received as a white person in comparison to the values I hold for the equality of humanity, I find the willingness to get uncomfortable.
For me, there was an initial shame hurdle to overcome. I had to come to realize that I didn't cause racism, it's not my fault. But I am responsible for the dismantling of white supremacy because it is not okay with me and is not in alignment with my values. Just like I didn't cause my disease of addiction but my recovery is my responsibility.
Here is a beautiful story of one woman's journey to heal her heritage: Dear Descendants of the Colonizers. I appreciate the compassion that she holds alongside accountability.
I don't want to preach. I just want to share my truth with all you for the purpose of connection and collective healing. Maybe you don't agree with me. Maybe I've pissed you off. That's okay. Let's talk about it. It is my intention for 2019 to create space for white people to heal our shame and fear in order to begin taking anti-racist action. I would love for you to reply to this email if you have interest, comments, or questions!