I am a teacher to beautiful, diverse children. All of which have a different story as to why they are here in the United States. Some are uplifting, some stories are heartbreaking. However, their stories do not matter to me, they are in front of me every day and I love them.
I wake up worried every day for my students, friends, and partner. The President’s recent remarks are firing up the White supremacists and bringing up racism in even some of the most well-intentioned people. This means more acts of hate will be committed and already have. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is already receiving death threats and I feel this is just the beginning.
Recently, I had to watch “The Color of Fear” which was a documentary made in 1994. This documentary showed a group of men of varying races sitting and talking about race. While made in 1994, the conversation was still the same as it is today. Spoiler alert: The white man who claimed at the beginning not to be racist, was the most racist. Cue images of every person who has ever said the words “I don’t see color” popping into my brain. The fact that we are still having the exact same conversation in the United States is infuriating to me. It is also heartbreaking that one of the Black men states, “I know I will not see a change in my lifetime.” Sadly, he’s probably correct. And guess what? We are all complicit in the ongoing racism on some level.
Every time we don’t engage in conversation with that blatantly racist colleague, family member, or friend we are complicit. Every time we see or hear a stranger say or do something that is clearly racially driven and we don’t do anything, we are complicit. Every time we do not acknowledge our own privilege, we are complicit. Every time we don’t self-reflect on our own biases and behaviors we are complicit.
This isn’t just about race either, it’s all of the marginalized communities. We all have a role in healing this country and advocating for the people who do not have a voice and advocating for those who are tired of trying to reeducate White people. It’s no one’s job but those in the privileged group in our country to use their voice and reeducate friends, family, and colleagues. I don’t mean arguing with every person on the internet, that is fruitless. I mean having real conversations with people and calling out racism and microaggressions when you see them. Also, taking the time to reflect on your own biases, misinformation, and microaggressions. We ALL have something to work on.
Silence is no longer an option. Standing on the sidelines and hoping it fixes itself is no longer an option. It never has been an option, but more than ever for the safety and sanity for our country it is important.
**Sidenote: I’ve started using “United States” to refer to our country. America (North and South) is the continent, which means everyone on this continent is American… not just the people who proudly scream about being an “American” and that everyone should go back to where they came from.