I became a racial justice facilitator about a year ago. I’ve only done maybe 4 events, but I feel like just before and since I went through the training, I started truly considering my own racism and how I honestly feel about black people. What I’m learning is that I still have more to do to conquer my learned biases and assumptions. It’s a long process. I wish I’d started it sooner.
I grew up more or less surrounded by uneducated white people who didn’t have a lot of experience with people of other races and religions. I can see now how I took on the cultural beliefs and attitudes of the adults around me, while still somehow managing to not think that it was really right. I feel really lucky to have had the nagging feeling in the back of my head that caused me to do more reading and exploring back then. I am ashamed of things I’ve said and things I thought were true, though I do know that I didn’t “know better” at that point.
I’ve been dabbling in genealogy for a while now, and I know for sure that there were slaveholders in my family, so I’ve been obsessed lately with reading the runaway slave announcements that my ancestors put in the newspapers in Virginia, and thinking hard about how slavery benefited them and me. I’m currently reading The Half Has Never Been Told , which is about how slavery built American capitalism. It’s rough-I haven’t even gotten through the first chapter and I feel like my head is going to explode. It makes it more real to then read the runaway slave ads in the old papers.
I’m not sure what the point to this post is, other than I am so troubled over what’s finally showing up in the media here in the U.S. It makes sick to think how much of this has been happening that we didn’t know about due to lack of curiosity, lack of media coverage, and lack of belief. I wonder if the rate at which women are raped and the rate at which black people are hurt or killed by white people is similar, which means it’s atrociously high. I am trying to relate to or understand how it feels to wear the reason people hate you and treat you like an animal on your skin and to never be able to just blend in. I do know what it feels like to feel like an object in public just because of how my body looks, but I can still sometimes find ways to mask myself and make myself invisible.
The color of our skin is what it is ONLY because our ancestors evolved at certain distances from the equator. That is all. That thought alone blows my brain wide open. I think about American history and all the pain caused black people in this country because of skin color. On top of that, slaves were never willing immigrants to this country. Most black people are descendants of people who DID NOT CHOOSE to come here, unlike most of the rest of the white and brown populations in the U.S. Another mind-blowing thought when you then consider what we have done to black people.
I have so much to think about. I still have so much self-examination to do.