I'm white. For a long time, I wasn't aware that race was still a real problem in the US. After learning otherwise, I told myself it didn't have to do with me-- it wasn't my fault, I wasn't involved, and I didn't have to feel bad about it. I'd actually get mad when getting lumped into the conversation about whiteness and racism. While taking a specific course in college, this experience was brought up for discussion, and I finally stopped to ask myself why it made me mad. I started asking questions. Questions about myself. Questions about others. Questions about why the world is the way it is, whether it has to be, and what my place in it really is. The more I learned, the more I realized I kind of was part of the problem. At first, I felt myself pushing back against that realization, because it hurt. It was uncomfortable. It made me feel dirty. I was guilty for not speaking up enough, and felt ashamed of my own behavior, thoughts, and lack of awareness.
Even now, I still go through waves of those emotions while engaging with this topic from time to time. My job wouldn't exist if it weren't for racism, discrimination, and the denial of the existence of human rights violations the world over. Sometimes, it feels weird to be one of the few white people in the office, because I'm not sure I'm the best person for the job for a number of reasons. I try to push myself to learn better ways to engage with, advocate for, support, and educate members of my community. For me, this comes in the form of devouring research articles and taking online classes, but there are so many ways to continue learning. Sometimes, I learn I'm doing good things. Other times, I learn I'm causing harm, and have to unlearn what I'd previously been taught to replace it with a new and hopefully better way of doing things. It's a never-ending process, and I have a long way to go before I find my own peace in it.