Yes. And what’s mindblowing is that this is highlighting only the internal and interpersonal unintended racism. To think that on top of this, there’s the unintended participation in institutional and systemic racism. With this in mind, I think the first step as a White person trying to do justice work is surrender.
As I begin to understand the way I’m programmed, there come fleeting moments of being able to see that even the way I see my Whiteness…is through the lens of my Whiteness.
Then comes beautiful surrender.
I cannot see outside myself. Surrender.
Within this surrender, I begin to see that everything I “know” about the way the world works has been “known” through a supremacist framework. Society chose nearly all of my identities as the “superior” ones. And it wasn’t long before I saw that those labels of superiority were disconnected from my lived experience. I witnessed and participated in morally repulsive activities carried out by people who shared my supposedly “superior” identities. Few people were available to help me process this disconnect.
What does that experience of deep dissonance do to a child’s brain? My foundations couldn’t support the weight society placed upon them, and I became a defensive, scared, fragile person. Because the world insisted and still insists that I am superior, while I know and have always known that I am not.
An unstable foundation compromises the stability of the entire structure. Today, beginning to see what Whiteness has done to me, so many of the things I *thought* I knew and understood are now revealed as inverted reflections of a fun-house mirror. All the grooves of life I’ve inhabited and loved and hated and envied and missed and feared…were just my perceptions under the influence of the powerful narcotics of supremacist thought.
To realize this is to see that the ultimate prize is within my grasp: a reset button. A chance to see everything for the first time again, to “not know” what the world is like. Up could be down. In could be out. I have the chance to throw open every door that has been sealed with bitterness and resignation. A return to a childhood in which everything is possible, fresh.
When I say that I support and will fight for Black liberation for my own sake as a White person, I mean it. For 30 years, White supremacy smiled in my face while shackling me to impossible standards of superiority that I could never attain.
Invisible shackles. Black Americans have known this about White Americans, they have been forced to know this about us, better than we White people ever could. My revelations are old news…just new to me.
White, man, straight, bearer of any of America’s other privileged identities…you want freedom from the isolation and spiritual death that you were born into?
Black liberation is liberation for all.