Reflection 1: + What are your thoughts about white exceptionalism, guilt, and shame? Have you felt that way? Have you been driven by toxic white guilt? First, I want to start by saying that I really liked that the opening statement in the Seeing Whiteness video when the woman stated that she was a recovering racist. I have never seen it that way with myself. It opened my eyes a bit. Racism is a problem and it is a problem that I do need to work against everyday. Growing up in the south within a covertly racist family, I picked up on many of those same cues - making racist jokes, forming opinions on People of Color (POC) based on the statements of those closest to me, and in general building my own implicit biases that made me a racist. Racism is comparable to many problems. If you are an alcoholic, you will always be a recovering alcoholic because of the impact on your life. For those of us that allowed racism into our beings, we will always be recovering racists. I feel that it is a powerful statement and acknowledgment that you contributed to racial divide and that you are actively working to correct that. In previous reflections, I have stated that white exceptionalism is a huge issue because it is incredibly prominent and easy to see. If it doesn't impact us or if we aren't the cop shooting the un-armed and innocent POC, it's not our fault. However, we have allowed this to permeate systematically because we haven't done anything to stop it. We haven't intervened. White guilt and shame are emotions that I feel often. If I had spoken up or if I had done something, would things be different? Could my voice or action have made a positive impact? In high school, I remember the few POC in my community being bullied and attacked. I didn't do anything. I didn't step in and say anything. I didn't report it. I didn't push for administration to take it seriously. I just looked away because it was too hard to see. I contributed to their pain and I blame myself everyday for not doing something.
I think toxic white guilt is something all white people experience. My perception is that this can be correlated to posting on social media about how you are a "better" person for doing charity, but not referring back to those that you are working to benefit and pushing for everyone to make a positive impact where they can. I make it a point to never steamroll a POC when I talk about the issues of racism. Their voice is far more meaningful and powerful because they experience it the most. I am there to be an ally and to support them, not to compete for the final word or for the acknowledgment of being a "better" person. I try to take the path of education and the words of POC to strengthen them in the ears of white people that don't want to listen to POC. It's not about me. It's about them.
Reflection 2: + Where do you think you are on the ally continuum? Do you think you already demonstrate allyship? Honestly, I think I'd say I'm 1/2 of an advocate. I know this might sound weird, but bare with me. I am aware and active. However, I'm not sure I can say I'm a full advocate. I don't think my activism is always there when it needs to be. I thought of an experience that I had at my work. A higher up professional liked to brag about how liberal, active, and accepting she was of all people. My being gay seemed to be a huge part of why I was hired. Yet, I noticed covertly racist behaviors that she expressed around the students that were POC that she didn't know well. I brought up wanting to do a racism/sensitivity training for the department and even brought up the implicit bias tests, rather than bluntly acknowledging what happened. Rather than getting the expected support, it quickly turned to "why do you think we need that? We aren't racist. Are you racist?" I apparently hit a trigger that made them backlash towards me as if my suggestions were wrong. We hosted Safe-Zone training for students and professionals to become more informed on the issues facing the LGBTQ+ community, but we couldn't do one for POC? This made no sense. Rather than pushing it, I let it go. The hostility was present and I didn't want to risk losing my job. Looking back, I cared more about myself and staying in the good graces of a racist supervisor, rather than the students and colleagues that needed to feel safe and heard on our campus. Can I be an advocate if I let it go? Can I truly be a part of the fight for equality if my Plan B is to still make sure I'm safe? In my daily life, I believe I do demonstrate allyship. I don't make it about me. I work to make everyone I can feel safe and heard. I educate myself and work to provide resources for others to educate themselves. But, again, I'm a truly demonstrating allyship if I let it go and utilize that Plan B? Reflection 3: + Are you starting to feel more prepared and confident to engage in conversations about race? What do you think about some of the PDF handouts? What thoughts did you have while watching the videos focusing on how to engage others?
I am definitely beginning to feel more prepared and confident to engage in conversations about race. I feel that all 3 modules have helped me explore more internally than I had before and giving me a platform to write it out, when I've never done that. I feel stronger as an ally. The PDF handouts are incredible, whether it's a reading or a graphic, they are tools that I plan to continue referencing back to and utilizing when I do have conversations, especially when working with my colleagues and students. My thoughts on the engagement videos are pretty in-line with the speakers. We need to use our voice, even when in fear of backlash, and to make each environment an opportunity for all parties to speak their truths. I have always believed that hearing one's experiences enables me to better understand the way I speak with them and convey information. It's about being bold, but not negatively aggressive. We need to be able to build mature, uncomfortable conversations. Furthermore, the videos showed me that I need to become used to the uncomfortable. If I can't do that, I will not be a good advocate. I need to find my strength in those uncomfortable moments.