This time of year is often a time that we reflect on the year behind us and the year we hope to have ahead of us. As individuals that value racial equity and justice, especially for those of us who are white, it’s a great time of year to reflect on what anti-racism actions looked like in our life this past year and the way we want to show up in this coming year. It’s an opportunity to look at areas where you showed up more than the year before as well as areas where you may be holding back. It’s also a time to look deeper to uncover any blindspots that may unintentionally be in your way.
I love the way Dr. Bettina Love describes a common blind spot in her Education for Liberation presentation. She talks about the importance of abolitionism and specifically in the field of education. She talks about how important it is to approach this work with a lens and energy for the full dismantling of systems and not just a band aid approach. She speaks directly to white folks in telling us how it is our responsibility to end this and that we can’t be half in but we need to be fully committed.
“We [Black and brown folks] did not start this and it’s not our job to end it. White folks got to end this and they got to want to be a part of this and not performative and not from the sidelines you gotta deeply want to be part of what it means to be an abolitionist.”— Dr. Bettina Love. This quote is at the 15:42 mark. I typed it out from her speaking but please listen it’s much more powerful when she shares it. You can watch the full video here (which I recommend especially for school staff and parents): Abolitionist Teaching – Education for Liberation Network
So white folks, despite hearing this, feeling this, and knowing this, there are still things that sometimes get in our way of doing this.
Here are some of those things:
- We are so used to our institutions and organizations (schools, workplaces, banks, professional associations, local community boards, community gathering spaces, faith based institutions, local sports groups and other activities, etc.) being set up and functioning in a certain way. Since it’s the norm, we may not recognize harm that’s taking place, we may not feel like it’s our place to say anything, and/or we may feel that it wouldn’t matter or make a difference even if we did say something (because why would they listen to us.)
- We are waiting for a person of color to take the lead and/or give us permission to speak up, show up, or do this work. We worry about overstepping or doing something unintentionally harmful. (Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be following the lead of Black, Indigineous, and people of color, because yes there are many spaces where that should happen. But this is our responsibility to dismantle these systems, change the power dynamic, and end this. There are plenty of white people that we know and predominately white spaces, leadership, and/or institutions where we need to be taking this on.)
- Intersectionality plays a role for women. Women are socialized to be polite, appease others, and avoid conflict. This shows up in our racial equity and justice work and effects the way we speak up and show up. Too often as women we don’t recognize the ways in which society has held us back from being able to fully step into our power. We have been socialized to interact in a certain way which often prevents us from speaking our truth and sharing important things that we have to say. We may hold back what we say, wait for our turn to speak that never comes, or question if what we say is valid and valuable. Sometimes we’re not even conscious in the way that it shows up and it keeps us from having a bigger impact on issues we care about.
These are just a few of the ways that prevent us from fully stepping into our power and showing up in a way that creates real change. This is ours to do. We need to look inside ourselves so we can show up better, stronger, and have a bigger impact on this journey.
If you are curious about what fully stepping into your power would look like and what it would mean to align your anti-racism values with your life, then we should talk. I created the Changemakers program to help white women build their capacity in this work. If you are curious about the program, want to have a better understanding of what this could look like in your life, and/or are ready to show up differently, let’s chat. You can schedule a time that is convenient for you here: Call with Rorri
To our responsibility.
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Your words and action can create change.