This is not a “them” problem. This is a “me” problem.
I am a middle class white woman who grew up with incredible privileges. I know that my skin color works for me rather than against me and, honestly, I don’t yet fully recognize all the advantages I was born with. I cry every time I turn on the news and see the pain searing through communities across our nation, and not just in the communities making the headlines but in all of our communities. My heart breaks for the family and friends of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so many others.
But, who am I to say anything?
I have never faced racism. I have challenges, but fearing for the lives of my family on a regular basis is not one of them. Even though I hold so much love in my heart for humankind, for all races, I recognize now that I am part of the problem. I am not educated enough about the racial issues in our country. I don’t speak out enough about the violence and discrimination. I feel inept yet I am compelled to speak out because silence is compliance and I will not comply with violence and discrimination.
You deserve better. I will do better. As I often recommend to others, one of the best things to do when we don’t know what to do is to learn more. So, my journey will start with educating myself about, as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar called it, the “slimy underbelly of institutional racism”. I want to learn about how my experiences differ from those of people of color around me. I want to learn more about the systems that have protected me – in my whiteness – without me ever recognizing it. We cannot do better until we know better.
It is not nearly enough, but I am committing to reading a book per month for the next year (June 2020-May 2021) to help me better understand racism in the United States. These books are mostly written by people of color to help me better understand their experiences, from their perspective. As recommended by a dear friend, I am going to start with I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. That same dear friend reminded me that our “guilty white girl tears” aren’t going to spark the changes that must take place, and I couldn’t agree more. Knowledge and reflection followed by action will help us move from being part of the problem to part of the solution.
I am making this 12-month commitment because I am embarrassed to admit that I have been a fair-weather fan when it comes speaking out against racial violence. When I see another case in the media, I feel horrible and think, “I need to do something.” But then I don’t and I forget. Until it happens again. And again. And again. This year-long commitment is my attempt to really make changes within and to then use those changes to be a better leader for my school, my family, and my community. I am making this commitment public and specific because that adds an extra layer of accountability that I very obviously need.
As Herbert Spencer said, “The great aim of education is not knowledge but action”. Reading is a wonderful beginning, but it is just that. Actions do speak louder than words. I don’t know what my plan of action will be because it will unfold along this journey, but there WILL be action beyond blogging and reflecting. Anyone who wants to join me for one of the books or for all of them is welcome. The books for each month are in the graphic below and an interactive graphic can be accessed here. Feel free to also join my email list using this link. In addition, I will post on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #SerendipityEDU.
Check out the #SerendipityEDU books on Amazon by clicking HERE! Each book is filled with inspiration to help us discover the gifts in along life’s journey. With the addition of my newest book, a middle-grades chapter book called The Serendipity Journal, there is a book for every age level. There is no better time to start looking for happy accidents!