1) I think initially, coming to this work, I've felt varying degrees of guilt and shame. But in my own personal growth work, I've discovered that guilt and shame are emotions that often let me stay stuck in a place. In reading White Fragility, I think I have a more solid understanding of how that guilt and shame can actually get in the way of hearing critical feedback. It's a much more powerful place for me to accept that I am a product of my culture and that culture is drenched in white supremacy. So I am going to have blindspots and I'm going to make mistakes in my work towards becoming anti-racist. This combined with knowing that this work doesn't end lets me just get on with doing better, instead of mired in hopelessness and despair. I think white exceptionalism and the concept of toxic white guilt is something to always have in the back of one's mind. Am I trying to prove something? Is what I'm doing ego-based? Because if you're feeling all this discomfort and guilt, it's easy to get lulled into the quick fix of being the anti-racist super hero. I like what Vincent Flewellen said in the video about leaning into discomfort. If we can be okay doing that, then we can resist the pull of white exceptionalism.
2) I existed between aware and active for a really long time. I engaged with issues and self-reflection, but it was a solitary journey. I didn't see how my voice mattered in the conversation and, although I learned a lot in my hibernation, I wasn't engaged. I see myself now as fully fledgling advocate- committed and beginning to do more of the work. For me, I think I got bogged down in questions of how to do things the right way, wanting to avoid criticism and mistakes. Because my internalized racism saw the black community as a monolith- one voice. That was a big eye-opener. I can hear another white person speak and if what they say doesn't align with what I know to be true, I can dismiss them. That white person doesn't speak for me or all white people. It's crazy to think there was a time that I believed whatever one black person said represented how all black people must feel/think. There are so many voices and nuanced ideas, generational, ideological differences that inform the collective... but one unifying theme. That black lives need to matter. I think social media has made this easier than ever before. I can listen to so many different voices. And it's passive, so I am just listening. And learning. And I've learned more in the last month on TikTok than I think I ever have reading any books on racism and institutionalized oppression. Because a book can be informative and engaging and eye-opening and heart-wrenching. But seeing someone pour their heart out, hearing their opinions... it's engaging with someone's humanity. And I strongly believe that minds can be changed. But minds can only follow where the heart goes.
3) Tone-policing- I'd never heard the definition of that before this class. I thought I knew what it meant, but I did not. I am the queen of tone-policing. Not with people of color, but with friends and family, especially my husband. I grew up in an environment where strong emotions were "dramatic" and I was labeled "too sensitive" and "angry." So I learned to stuff my emotions and became stoic in most regards. Joy was ok. Sadness, too. But never anger. I learned to "not rock the boat," to avoid conflict and confrontation, and to be the fixer in tense situations. As I've come to realize these things and have been working to accept all of my feelings and emotions as valid, I've learned some things. But I still believe that there's this ideal way to communicate and anger and strong emotion have no place there. I learned from White Fragility that this is a culturally white thing- that the norms I have upheld in my classrooms and in conversations with colleagues are literally forcing someone else, who's cultural upbringing may be vastly different, to melt into the pot. It's been a tough one to face and process. I'm still processing it. I've got more unpacking to do in this area for sure. So to answer the reflection question- I don't feel more confident about engaging in these conversations. I still have more work to do in this area.