27 Jun 2020

I’ve been studying white supremacy, and how it has served me.

I haven’t yet seen all the ways that being born and raised white has built my life: my hospital birth and medical care, my education, my career, my opportunities, my choices, my parenting, my housing, and my safety. I am only just now beginning to see how the institutions that have sheltered me have denied, excluded and oppressed others.  I am coming to realize just how much I don’t see, because whiteness fills my air and soil and water. I am aghast and stunned by the vastness of this experience; truly, I am a fish that has no clue about the water it thrives in.

I have deluded myself. I’ve thought that buying an older version of an iPhone is better for children working in African mines, gathering precious ores to build that phone. (Those children should be learning and playing, not toiling for pittance.) I’ve fooled myself into thinking because my car gets 30 miles per gallon in the City and that I drive it only about 7,000 miles a year, that I am protecting our environment. (The truth is that those practices are not sustainable.)  I have volunteered with an organization that brings education to a Southern state, with the goal of improving the health of mothers and babies. More than one-third of the photographs I use in my classes are of people of color.  I have felt proud of these acts, but really, they are feeble and puny when compared with 400+ years of dehumanizing treatment inflicted on BIPOC by my ancestors.

The podcast Seeing White https://www.sceneonradio.org/seeing-white/  has blown all the elementary and high school “history” I have ever learned out of the universe, as I learn of how white people have dominated, enslaved, exploited, kidnapped, killed ( massacred), oppressed, and stolen from First Nations Peoples, Mexicans, Africans and everyone else not perceived as white.  White people started their plundering the the instant Christopher Columbus set foot on San Salvador Island in 1492 and wrote,”There I found very many islands, filled with innumerable people, and I have taken possession of them all for their Highnesses, done by proclamation and with the royal standard unfurled, and no opposition was offered to me.”  {Christopher Columbus (1451–1506). Epistola Christofori Colom (Letters of Christopher Columbus). Rome: Stephan Plannck, after April 29,1493. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (048.00.00, 048.00.01, 048.00.02, 048.00.03)}

 

Being white is like having a chronic disease; my world has compensated and enabled me to thrive, yet I have been affected and afflicted the whole time. To become aware of every facet of this disease is a challenging and painful process.

Here are some books that have helped to open my eyes and my heart: I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness http://austinchanning.com/the-book ,  Lies My Teacher Told Me  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lies_My_Teacher_Told_Me , and How to Be an Anti-Racist https://www.ibramxkendi.com/how-to-be-an-antiracist-1    I have purchased these books from black-owned bookstores, and am relieved not to give money to Amazon.

There is more to learn, I am committed to that learning. I want to shut up and listen to the voices of black and brown people. I want to to make reparations..

 

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