Talking about race, racism, white privilege, and social justice often feels like we are – and we ARE – losing control. So we resist it. It’s not comfortable; it’s not fun; it’s not light; it doesn’t fit neatly into coffee and a walk, into chit-chat at soccer games, or into niceness at the grocery store; and it’s definitely not easy.
This is perfectly normal – as human beings, as people living in Western cultures, as white people (and I end the list here since this is my lived experience), we live our lives striving for control.
Yet because we don’t have an answer or clear vision of what comes after this talking, we avoid it; I believe one of the main reasons the current climate and loud (and necessary) cry for racial justice doesn’t sit well with many is that it feels like loss of control.
Whether it’s personal transformation, we don’t know what that looks like.
Whether it’s a shift in our teaching, we don’t know how much work that would be and what it would do to our habits (and teaching evaluations).
Whether it’s reevaluation of policies and institutions, we don’t know what the right way to do it is, if it will be acceptable, sufficient, what’s needed, efficient, enough…
It also feels shameful; like we did something wrong.
And we did. We still do.
At the very same time, I don’t believe in change through shame. We are what we are today, and we need to move through – not onward, not by forgetting or ignoring the past, but by having tough conversations that engage with what we need to change in the present in order to have a stronger, better, more just future.
I was listening to Brene Brown’s “Unlocking us” podcast interview with Austin Channing Brown, in which they talk about the importance of this work as a process of striving to be better humans – for each other, for our communities, for ourselves (this is my paraphrase).
I am also reading “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle right now, and the urgency of her call to feel all our feelings seems particularly important in this context. Feel all the discomfort of what it means to lose control in the process of talking about race, racism, white privilege, and social justice. Feel the rage. Feel the fear. Feel the confusion and disagreement. Only through these feelings will we speak up AND truly listen.