52 Weeks of Anti-Racist Action (#52weeksofantiracistaction)

Week 11: This week my anti-racist action was to continue to binge Grey’s Anatomy, which has been my go-to show since the pandemic began. This may, at first, seem lame and self-serving, but Grey’s Anatomy is a great example of representation in action. The show consistently features actors of all races, creeds, social and economic backgrounds, gender identities, sexual orientations, size, ability, etc. It routinely features actors who do not meet traditional “Hollywood” beauty and attractiveness standards (to be fair, it also features many actors who do). It gives these actors central roles and meaty plot lines rather than just bit parts. It deals often and directly with important and timely issues like police brutality towards and murder of black and brown people, implicit bias and sexual harassment in the workplace and the harmful outcomes that result, dismissive attitudes towards women and people of color in the medical community, etc. It is a show I am proud to support with my time and entertainment dollars. We wield more power than we realize with these two commodities, our time and our money. Using them to support businesses that advance our stated ideals can be a powerful step toward a different world. 

 Week 10: Listened to the first three episodes of the (controversial) podcast Nice White Parents this week. I have to admit I saw myself as an elementary school parent in the well-meaning - but unthinking - parents in episode one. Oof. I have been feeling lately that there isn’t quite enough action in my weekly action. Educating oneself is important, but change requires ACTION. This week I am committing to fill out parent surveys from my sons’ schools not just with what’s best for them in mind, but to educate myself before filling them out about what is best for students who may not have the advantages and privilege my sons have and to use my “vote” to advocate for those decisions. 

Week 9: This week I started a book I have been meaning to read for a long time, “A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America.” Although I know the history I learned in school was whitewashed, reading the truth about the “founding” of our country is still hard. We have always - and continue to - fall FAR short of our stated ideals. I hope that we can one day live up to who we say we want to be.
Week 8: I have listened to this episode of The Moth featuring Boots Riley before, but this week I listened to it again with my family. It is a powerful first-hand account of an encounter with law enforcement. Keep listening after the main story for a second one that is also powerful.
Week 7: This week I read Trevor Noah's book, "Born a Crime," an informative - and often hilarious - exploration of how racism is constructed and carried out. https://bookshop.org/books/born-a-crime-stories-from-a-south-african-childhood/9780399588198

Week 6: This week I continued my anti-racist education via Ijeoma Oluo, reading an article she wrote for The Guardian - https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/28/confronting-racism-is-not-about-the-needs-and-feelings-of-white-people - about talking with white people about racism. It made me think about something my counselor taught me about conflict.

In any conflict between two people, both people are usually hurting, but in order for there to be movement and resolution, the feelings of the person who is hurting at the deepest level must be recognized, honored and healed first. She recommends using the chakra system (the energy centers in the human body) to identify who is hurting at the deepest level. The deepest level of hurt is at the level of the root chakra, which is about survival, matters of life and death. Emotions that may come up based on a hurt at this level are terror or fear. This chakra is located at the base of the spinal cord, around the area of the perineum. Further up the body is the third chakra, around the area of the stomach. This chakra is about confidence and self-worth. Emotions that may come up based on a hurt at this level are shame or self-doubt. Therefore, if two people are in conflict and one person is experiencing survival-level hurts while the other person is experiencing hurts at the level of their confidence in themselves as a person, the person who is experiencing the survival level hurt needs to have their hurt addressed first because it is a hurt at a deeper level.

I believe this may help explain why white people and people of color experience such a disconnect when discussing matters of race. The vast history of murder of Black people at the hands of white people for simply living their lives makes it clear that for people of color racism is - and always has been - a matter of life and death. It is a first chakra hurt. As such, it must be recognized, honored and healed before the hurt that racism has done to white people, which I would argue for most of us is a hurt at the third chakra or above, can be addressed. I believe the failure of white people to recognize this "hierarchy of hurts" may explain why, when racism is discussed in mixed-race groups, the process is often messy, hurtful and often ends with things seeming worse than they were before.

If progress is going to be made, I believe that white people need to recognize the deep level of hurt that is experienced by people of color because of racism and must be willing to put their own feelings of hurt on the back burner until the survival-level hurts of Black people and other people of color have been healed. This is likely going to take a long time. It will probably not happen in my lifetime. It may not happen in my children's lifetime. It took more than 400 years to get to where we are today and it is going to take time for these hurts to heal, especially when that healing must, of course, include lack of further harm.

I believe that white people must make a conscious choice to put aside their own feelings of hurt and empathize with the deep level of hurt that people of color experience. It doesn't mean we aren't hurting and that we can't give each other comfort at those times, but we cannot - and should not - expect people of color to confront our hurt until their deeper level hurts have been healed.

[Much of what I know about the chakra system I learned from Anodea Judith's book, "Wheels of Life, https://bookshop.org/books/wheels-of-life-a-user-s-guide-to-the-chakra-system-rev-and-expanded/9780875423203. If you are looking for a kick-ass counselor, I highly recommend Dr. Cat, https://www.drcat.org/]

Week 5: After being called out on Facebook last week, I went back and read the "Checking Your Privilege" chapter in "So you want to talk about race," by Ijeoma Oluo. She recommends making a list of all the areas of life in which you have privilege, so I did this and spent a lot of time this week thinking about how that has played out in my life and how it may have adversely affected others. [This post is a little bit late due to an online seminar I was attending this week. Week 6 post coming soon.]

Week 4: This week I read the book I bought in week 2. A much-needed book that gives people of all races tools for participating in conversations around race. If anyone wants to read it, ping me in the comments and I will share it with you. https://bookshop.org/books/so-you-want-to-talk-about-race/9781580058827

Week 3: Made a political contribution to a Black candidate for Congress. Systemic racism is baked into our Democracy. In order to change it we need voices of color in positions of leadership. Here are some candidates you can support this year: https://www.ebony.com/news/meet-the-18-black-women-running-for-a-seat-in-congress/

Week 2: This week I put my money where my mouth is and bought a book for everyone in the house by a Black author in support of black publishing power. It’s not too late to support the movement! It also might be a great time to purchase a copy of “Black Widow” by my friend Leslie Streeter! https://www.littlebrown.com/titles/leslie-gray-streeter/black-widow/9780316490726/

Week 1: A friend posted this on her Facebook page recently: "The past few weeks have led to a lot of conversations about racism – How did we get here? What is my responsibility? What can I do? Should I be protesting? etc. I know that many of you have been having these same conversations. Maybe you have been protesting, listening more to Black people, reading, calling your representatives, posting on social media, donating, etc. Suddenly, it seems like there are so many things that we must do…and we need to do them now. How can we make this sustainable? How do we make anti-racism a way of living? During my teaching program, I started the uncomfortable work to understand and address systemic racism AND to evaluate my own privilege. I learned that this must be ongoing work. I cannot read one book and be anti-racist. I cannot simply celebrate diversity in my classroom and be an anti-racist teacher. I am going to commit to 52 weeks of action. Each week, I am going to do one thing that I will post it to FB so that you can hold me accountable." I have decided to join her. 52 weeks. 52 action steps toward a less racist, more sustainable world for all. Will you join us? #52weeksofantiracistaction


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