I normally stay out of serious discussion on the internet. I think it’s mostly a waste of time and energy. But I’ve been reading a lot of stories on the internet this past week about what it’s like being black in America today, and I wanted to make sure that anyone reading this who isn’t white, or wasn’t born in the United States of America, knows that I’m listening.
I grew up believing racism was a thing of the past—which I suppose is evidence enough that I am white. I was surrounded by international students most of my childhood due to my parents’ work and knew more about the tension between China and Taiwan than race tensions in the US. I thought because I loved the different tones of our skin and valued my friends of non-European appearance that everyone did. And since I am, in fact, white, I never saw racism because no one did it to me. It’s taken a long time for me to see the skin colors around me at all much less ponder the different experiences afforded each.
This week’s internet conversation reminds me of the #metoo movement in some ways.
Every woman knows what it’s like to be woman in a man’s world–even if, like me, you largely live in a safe bubble. Men just don’t. Unless they start listening.
Every black person knows what it’s like to be black in a white world. White people just don’t. Unless they start listening.
You can’t know what it’s like for someone who doesn’t look like you.
One of the worst parts of adulthood has been discovering exactly how much racism is still a thing. It’s shocking and appalling, and it’s beyond being watched suspiciously in stores–it extends to dress codes designed to shame them for their spectacular hair. It is hatred, obvious and ugly. And it’s rules no one thought to change once they forgot why they were there.
Most of the time racism feels far away to me, that is my privilege, but in listening to the stories of black friends and acquaintances and total strangers who are now coming forward to share…I’m so sorry…I had no idea…And I’m so sorry I didn’t think to ask about it.
And thanks for spelling out how we can help. I’ve found out about a lot of cool Instagrammers, authors, and artists who I never knew existed before this week. I plan to keep listening.
I’ve put some links in this paragraph, mouse over the words to find them. I encourage you, especially my white readers, to read people’s stories. To listen to them. And to keep listening to them.
Not Your Momma’s History – historical reinactor
Twisted – book on the tangled history of Black Hair
Mulatto Meadows – bringing horses to under privileged communities
Here’s a snapshot of some books by black authors which are now on my TBR list:
I’m happy to have more recommendations! I know this is just a tiny smattering. Let me know in the comments who are your favorite minority voices–in books, art, fashion, science, equestrian sports, especially.
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