Since taking a workshop sponsored by the Racial Equity Institute (racialequityinstitute.org), I have become more aware of the complex relationships in the artificial divide of race in the United States. How can I say artificial, when such a divide was a leading cause in the War Between the States in the 1860’s? How can I say artificial when nine people of color who were open and welcoming were gunned down at a Bible study because of racial anger in 2015?
Yet, race, as any kind of scientific reality has long been disproved. In the workshop’s notebook of information is reference to a PBS special Race: The Power of An Illusion: What Is Race? Background Readings for this are available at RACE-The Power of an Illusion.
This blog, however, is a reflection on what it means to be white, to belong to a privileged system and have a desire to equalize the playing field. It is also a reflection on what that requires of me. Today, I made a decision NOT TO RESPOND to an article in the New York Times by Donovan X. Ramsey published July 2, 2015 entitled “President Obama: Talk to Black America”, Not at Us <Donovan Ramsey-New York Times>.
I wanted to leave a comment, to put in my two cents worth. I wanted to share my important comment as an intelligent person trying to fight racism. Then I realized that this article might help me learn about the Black conversation, but it is not my conversation.
Since taking the workshop, I am part of a group that meets monthly labeled: An Anti-Racist White Caucus.” There also exists a group for people of color who have taken the workshop, and a larger group called Organizing Against Racism oarnc.org that is comprised of people from both racial groups.
At first, I rebelled against the separate caucus groups. Yes, I am guilty of embedded racism that may come out before I am aware of it. Yes, I have benefitted from a society that has had white privilege as a mantra since its inception. But I get tired of meeting only with my own kind, of trying to find my embedded racism, of discussing what I can do to change people of my skin color from hatred, of figuring out (I am retired) what to do about structural racism in the workplace. But this article opened my eyes. It clarified the very different problems that our cultural racial groups must face. African Americans have their own conversations and issues. Participation in a “white caucus” does not mean my separation from fellowship, support, or solidarity with people of color in the cause of racial justice, or in personal friendships. It means attending to a deeper understanding of the issues, the sad, but separate realities in which the racial divide of history has put us, the reality of a complex problem into which I was born. It requires me to do hard and uncomfortable work to fix it from my position within it.