Chapter 3 - What if I talk about race wrong?
"There is no shoving the four hundred years' racial oppression and violence toothpaste back in the toothpaste tube" (43).
History cannot be undone but our understanding and reconciling with our history needs to take place.
"In fact, it's our desire to not talk race that increases the necessity of its discussion. Because our desire to not talk about race also causes us to ignore race in areas where lack of racial consideration can have real detrimental effects on the lives of others--say, in school boards, community programs, and local government" (43-44).
I cannot remember any discussions about race in any of my formal schooling or outside the classroom until I was a teacher in the classroom. I have had to learn that my role is to listen and reach out to other White people to encourage growth in race conversations.
"The truth is, we live in a society where the color of your skin still says a lot about your prognosis for success in life. This is the reality right now, and ignoring race will not change that. We have a real problem of racial inequity and injustice in our society, and we cannot wish it away. We have to tackle this problem with real action, and we will not know what needs to be done if we are not willing to talk about it" (44-45).
Basic Conversation Tips
1. State your intentions.
2. Remember what your top priority in the conversation is and don't let your emotions top that.
3. Do your research.
4. Don't make your antiracism argument oppressive against other groups.
5. When you start to feel defensive, stop to ask yourself why.
6. Do not tone police.
7. If you are white, watch how many times you say "I" and "me."
8. Ask yourself: Am I trying to be right, or am I trying to do better?
9. Do not force people of color into discussions of race.
Tips For When Conversations Go Very Wrong
1. Stop trying to jump back in when a conversation is beyond saving.
3. Don't write your synopsis of this conversation as "the time you got yelled at."
4. Don't insist that people give you credit for your intentions.
5. Don't beat yourself up.
6. Remember that it is worth the risk and commit to trying again.
"These conversations will never become easy, but they will become easier. They will never be painless, but they can lessen future pain. They will never be risk-free, but they will always be worth it."
Chapter 4 - Why am I always being told to "check my privilege"?
"Not only is the concept of privilege integral to our real world understanding of issues of race in the West, it is crucial to the success of any efforts towards social justice that we make" (59).
Definition of privilege - "Privilege, in the social justice context, is an advantage or a set of advantages that you have that others do not" (59).
"When we are willing to check our privilege, we are not only identifying areas where we are perpetuating oppression in order to stop personally perpetuating that oppression, but we are also identifying areas where we have the power and access to change the system as a whole" (64-65).
Chapter 5 - What is intersectionality and why do I need it?
"Intersectionality, the belief that our social justice movements must consider all the intersections of identity, privilege, and oppression that people face in order to be just and effective, is the number one requirement of all of the work that I do" (74).
"Each of us has a myriad of identities--our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more--that inform our experiences in life and our interactions with the world" (75).
I need to read more and learn more from Kimberle Crenshaw.
"Problems" of Intersectionality
1. Slows things down.
2. Brings people face-to-face with their privilege.
3. Decentralizes people who are used to being the primary focus of the movements they are a part of.
4. Forces people to interact with, listen to, and consider people they don't usually interact with, listen to, or consider.
"But if you don't embrace intersectionality, even if you make progress for some, you will look around one day and find that you've become the oppressor of others" (79).
I am interested in progress and I need to understand my privilege and check it often to understand viewpoints coming from people who have different intersections.
Starting this book with the recent lynching of a Ahmaud Arbery is sobering. I ran this morning as part of the #runwithahmaud movement and reflected on my privilege of not having to worry too much about being confronted by racism, but instead being hit by a distracted driver.
I am here for the conversation to learn. I am here to listen. I am here to be an ally and stand with those who are daily impacted by racist ideas and people.
I take my responsibility seriously.
Wanting to be a good human being and a good neighbor.
As a father of two young ladies who are Black and Native.
As a father very White little boy.
As an educator, decolonizing my curriculum and learning from all perspectives and not centering the White voice.
Chapter 1 - Is it really about race?
I have experienced this type of conversation before when talking about race. In Chapter 1 Oluo states, "Disadvantaged white people are not erased by discussions of disadvantages facing people of color, just as brain cancer is not erased by talking about breast cancer. They are two different issues with two different treatments, and they require two different conversations" (18). Having a discussion about how race impacts each event matters and not take away the humanness of others at the same time.
I believe my life experiences are valid and meaningful as a white person, I have no right to invalidate the life experiences of a person of color because I do not understand or experienced what they have. Every experience matters and I need to listen and learn.
Chapter 2 - What is racism?
Definition: Racism is any prejudice against someone because of their race, when those views are reinforced by systems of power.
Ending systems of oppression is far more important than trying to win the hearts and minds of individuals.
"We have to remember that racism was designed to support an economic and social system for those at the very top. This was never motivated by hatred of people of color, and the goal was never in and of itself simply the subjugation of people of color. The ultimate goal of racism was the profit and comfort of the white race, specifically, of rich white men. The oppression of people of color was an easy way to get this wealth and power, and racism was a good way to justify it. This is not about sentiment beyond the ways in which our sentiment is manipulated to maintain an unjust system of power."
I am reading this to playing in a role in ending the systems that continue to oppress Black and Brown people.
I learned from this reading that tying racism to the systemic causes and effects will allow for learning and change to take place.
I want to reflect on my thoughts and actions to continue my work of being an antiracist.
I am very excited to be reading this book along with my 12 year-old daughter, Trinity. I will be adding her reflections to these posts as we learn together.
Why is it so hard to admit that we’re wrong?
Why do we try to act like we’ve never been racist before?
Why is it so hard to talk about race and why does it make us feel so uncomfortable?
Why do we try to deny what we said or did was wrong even though we know that it was wrong or hurtful?
We all have different brains, thoughts, and ideas but we all have feelings, so why should the color of mine or your skin get to decide what or how we get to feel our feelings that belong to us?
We all have the right to decide what we say and do, so you can’t defend yourself by saying “ well, I wasn’t try to” or “it wasn’t what I was trying to do”, because even if it wasn’t on purpose you still said it and you can’t deny it.
Why is it our nature to try to be better than everybody else if it’s money, fame, or anything else we feel the need to be better than the rest?
I connected to and with her when she said “personally, my blackness is a history of strength, beauty, and creativity that I draw on every day” because I love to experience and express my history and it’s culture and beauty of it all.
I like how she compared how if you say something to a white person it doesn’t have the same effect if you said something to a Black person. I believe you can’t be racist to a White person because if a Black person if pulled over by the cops and you see it you tell their boss or principal they’ll be labeled for life. If you do the exact same thing to a White person it will likely mean nothing and you'll probably end up joking about it instead of getting fired. Also less likely the white person will be label "suspicious" or a "threat" to anyone.
Mr. Dylan Wince