I want to contribute to the conversation on Black Lives Matter, but as a white woman I feel I don’t have the right. I was born in the middle of the civil rights movement in the decade that saw both Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy assassinated, yet there are still many of the more subtle points that I do not understand. However, I recognize that this is no time to be a by stander.
Growing up in rural Oregon with my Canadian born mother I can tell you that racism was not taught in our home. My mother born in St. John’s Newfoundland, Canada did not think that way. However, my late husband’s family in Texas were a different story. Surprisingly, my husband was comfortable running his East Oakland based construction firm with employees from all walks of life and racial backgrounds. He may have grown up with racism, but I did not see him demonstrate it. This is not to say we as a couple were without bias.
We raised our children in a neighborhood that has a very narrow rate of diversity. In fact, our neighborhood is quite vanilla. A place where people have a similar world view. However, there are a few points in which we differ.
With interest I’ve read the Next Door conversations of my neighbors as they sort through their confusion on why all lives don’t matter. Our more evolved neighbors patiently explained in 460 comments that the movement was like a house burning down. All the homes matter, but this one is the one that is on fire, so it matters the most at this moment in time. There is an almost childlike innocence here, but at the end of the day, a desire for the most part to understand. This is the first step in reversing bias and getting behind what I believe is the most critical component of societal change – anti-racism. It is no longer enough to not be racist, we must be anti-racist. In this way the silent majority that has so idly stood by can be mobilized for real and lasting change. But, that is only part of the equation.
My daughters are quite political and this has been an important topic of conversation in our home. I am learning through them and shifting my own opinions, biases and beliefs as I grow as a human being. This is an astonishingly important juncture in history and I am often brought to tears as I listen to thought leaders on all sides of this conversation because the pain in their words is so visceral.
Recently, there was a video of a local high school girl voicing racist comments on Instagram. Racism and everything else is taught at the knee. It’s time to unlearn it because this next chapter of history depends on it.
Love and blessings to all.