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December 18, 2014

Comments

Lou Vaile

great piece, Jill. i think the hard part for most of us to get, because we haven't been living as the subjects of racism since we arrived on the planet, is that we don't always know what the stones of racism look like. we're like, "hey, i would never throw a rock at anyone, so i'm good!", without realizing that it's so much more subtle than that. the stones of racism look like educational inequity, like laughing at "thug" characters portrayed on tv, adopting a "gangsta" pose for selfies, incarcerating young black men for petty crimes that their white counterparts get away with. we can't really atone when we're still benefitting from the subtle stones of racism that are still being thrown.

do i have racist reactions? of course i do. i was raised in a culture that told me to fear "the other". i tense up sometimes walking past a black dude on an unlit street, the ingrained fear that he may want to harm me winning over the fact that in 50 years, no black person has ever harmed me (plenty of white folk have, though--and i am not afraid of white people on the street). now, imagine being that black dude on the street, knowing someone is afraid of you, and all you're trying to do is get to your destination safely without being accused of harming anyone. sucks, huh?

how do we fix this? i don't know, but i feel as if it starts with listening. listening long enough to really hear what our black community members are telling us that they need from us, without being defensive. like it or not, you and i benefit from racism. it's time to step outside our comfort zone and address the subtle stones that hold racism firmly in place.

Jill

Excellent point and perfectly stated. You remind me of a conversation I had about this with a gentle giant composer friend of mine. He is just one of "those" helpful sweet souls. I was discussing this with him, a black man whose mom was incarcerated and he was adopted by a white family in the south. He has such a good perspective on all of this. But one of the biggest take aways which I've shared often is this moment when he described through tears how in the middle of the day, on is way somewhere in a public area, a white guy stepped into traffic so as not to share the same sidewalk with him. He said "Jill he could have gotten himself killed but he chose to take that route rather than risk it with me!" I'm thankful for him and for your friend who are willing to have these conversations and sort out the imagined stones from the real ones and the unitentional pebbles from the lethal and targeted boulders. But it doesn't take much to imagine how it feels to just have more than enough already damnit! Being a white woman then a bigger white woman had enough baggage for me. I can only begin to imagine... And you can see why I don't always want to.

Lou Vaile

love you

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