Outliers Can Not Be Used To Excuse Our Own Bias

There’s the thing people do on Facebook. They find lone outliers from an opposing group that actually agree with them, and share out those voices like it is their public permission slip to feel the way they do. I see it quite often in regards to race issues and with the stuff that happened this week, it seems to be a growing phenomena.

Progressives/Liberals talk a lot about systemic racism and how we need criminal justice reform. This is often done by spotlighting how black families – especially in poor neighborhoods – raise their kids with a completely different approach to law enforcement than white people do. So…OF COURSE…periodically I’ll see friend or family from the others side of the spectrum, share out a video of a black man saying he LOVES cops and has never had one problem when/if he gets pulled over. Nevermind that there is evidence supporting that fact that there does exist racial bias, this person who shares out this video wants to use this ONE PERSON as their excuse not to admit the system is racist, even if the evidence proves otherwise.

We – as a country – were going through a “We Love Michelle Obama” surge awhile back (I mean, aren’t we always?) and one of my conservative-voting FB contacts chose THAT MOMENT to share out a video of a black woman talking about why she hates Michelle Obama. This was that family member’s way of also not liking Michelle Obama and this lone voice allowed her to do it an not be racist because…LOOK! A black woman agrees with her!

It’s not always about race either…I recently saw a video shared out by a Christian family member of an “atheist” (the way the person spoke it was really hard to believe she was actually an atheist because I know a shit-ton of non-believers and none of them ever spoke like that) saying that forcing employees to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” was against the first amendment and they believed that EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE AN ATHEIST. Conveniently this was shared out the same day I pointed out that Happy Holidays is more inclusive and why wouldn’t you want to include more people in your well-wishes?

So yeah…users on Facebook like to find the video of ONE person (usually from the cultural or racial group their views might offend) who supports their views and they do it as a way to support their lack of empathy or understanding of the group they disagree with. “Look! I don’t have to understand the importance of inclusive speech because this atheist agrees with me!”

I also saw this one time when someone shared out a Facebook status saying that – as a Mother of a child with mental handicaps – she was not offended by the use of the word “retarded” in casual language. I mean, is it that hard to NOT use a word that has documented negative impact? We have to find the outlier that gives us permission to keep using a word that upsets a large majority of our community?

And then – the occurrences this week that spawned me writing on this topic. There is historical and cultural evidence of white people dehumanizing black women via restrictions on their hair, TONS of evidence and TONS of current black female writers discussing this and yet…AND YET…I know people who find ONE YouTube video of ONE black woman who says, “Bill O’Reilly didn’t say anything racist!” to share out on Facebook so they’re not forced to have to face the fact that their own comments about hair might be racist.

I see it with liberals too. There’s this weird habit of finding those Change Of Heart Trump supporters who are now vocal against him and using that as an excuse to be crudely vocal agains the administration. Liberals also like to use Warren Buffet as their “business outlier” as proof they don’t have to listen to conservative economic policy because this rich guy agrees with them.

But lately – especially with race issues – I’m seeing it more and more with white people basically looking for videos of black people saying the things they want to say but can’t. And it’s making me a little stabby.

It’s Always About Race.

Most of the time if something big is happening in the world, I wait for someone better to write about it and then I use their words as a jumping-off point. Especially if it deals with race. I take a quote of someone wiser and source it, and then build my thoughts from their wisdom. I’m not great at seeing something happen and then formulating my thoughts myself without influence from smarter people.

Especially 100% of the time when it deals with race. I need guidance.

But this morning I’m at a loss. Two things happened yesterday that are very closely related in terms of race and misogyny and microagressions and I really want someone else to have written about this already so I could piggy-back and add my own comments…but it seems no one has yet. So I’m going to try to just throw my thoughts and feelings out there and hope I don’t do it too terribly.

I saw the video yesterday where Bill O’Reilly snarked on on Maxine Waters – a black Congresswoman from California – by saying, “I didn’t hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig.”

And then, separately, Sean Spicer said to April Ryan – a black reporter at his briefing yesterday, “Please, stop shaking your head again.”

I want to discuss those two moments and how they represent similar moments in my life.

My first instinct is to always shift my perspective away from racism when I see and hear microagressions like this. I mean, we’ve heard white women get mocked for hair and attitudes before, so why are these comments “racist” in nature? This is a self-protecting instinct I’m now aware of because racism has become subtle in our society and we’re all so defensive against accusations of it. To protect our dignity, we have trained ourselves to say, “It’s definitely misogynistic, and he’s definitely an asshole, but that’s not inherently racist.

But then my immediate second – more aware – instinct is: It’s always racism.

First of all…the hair comment: Let’s start by pointing out that any comment on any black woman’s hair is always rooted in racism. It may be subtle, but until we recognize the history of indignities black women have had to suffer because of their hair, we will never see the racism behind the remarks. Hair makes us feel “safe” because it’s not skin. We can inflict regulations on how a black woman styles her hair that we never put on a white woman and we can pretend it’s about hygiene or professionalism and it makes us feel safe because we’re not talking about skin color. Regulating hair for black women has been a way to hold authority over a race without mentioning the race itself. The military has finally rolled back most (all?) of the regulations targeting black women and their hair but here is a good piece about it before these rollbacks. When Black Hair Is Against the Rules.

But in many settings, black hair was still a battleground. In the 1980s civil rights groups led boycotts against the Hyatt hotel chain after it terminated a black female employee for wearing cornrows. In 1999, couriers for Federal Express were fired for wearing dreadlocks. And this past fall, 7-year-old Tiana Parker was told her dreadlocks violated her elementary school’s dress code in Tulsa, Okla., and 12-year-old Vanessa VanDyke was threatened with expulsion from her private school in Orlando, Fla., because her natural hair was deemed a “distraction.”

So we must remind ourself: For a black woman? Her hair is the target seen the most. And jeezus, Maxine Waters’ hair actually follows all of these “rules” people have inflicted unfairly over the years and someone STILL snarks on her hair. Because it is the “safe” go-to when insulting a black woman because it doesn’t relate to skin color. But as history has shown us? It always relates to skin color.

Now…let’s visit the other incident.

“Please, stop shaking your head again.”

Another frequent indignity a black woman has to deal with is defending herself against the “Angry Black Woman” trope. Now, this should be something all women can relate to a little bit because we all know that if we get angry at work, we’re being emotional. Whereas if a man gets angry he’s being powerful. So we can all recognize that comments about attitude are inherently misogynistic. But the “Angry Black Woman” trope is another that has been used in history to belittle the response of any black woman towards injustice. If a black woman rages about something? The thing that triggered the rage is dismissed the second she is painted as an Angry Black Woman. It’s how the system shifts focus away from what makes her angry. So if she wants to be taken seriously, she has to remain more calm than her white or male counterparts. This is misogyny AND racism.

Long attributed to black women who have dared to stand up for what they believe in, the “angry black girl” archetype Stenberg refers to is one that reduces having an informed opinion to having a plain ol’ attitude problem. Source

I guarantee you white men shake their heads at Sean Spicer in that room daily. And while he may accuse them of promoting agendas like he did April Ryan, he never mandates they stop shaking their head. Because that’s not a weapon we use against men. Angry men are powerful so we don’t spotlight that. Angry Black Women just need attitude adjustments, so we can minimize their response by spotlighting their “attitude.”

Now, the reason I wanted to talk about these things is because – in my sphere of friends and families – it’s the comments like these that I have previously ignored making me part of the problem in continued racism. I’ve pretended I didn’t hear similar comments numerous times before. I don’t know if it’s living in the South, or if every white person my age has this experience, but I’ve been in countless situations (family, friends, work) where comments about a black woman’s hair or attitude are made and then promptly glossed over by me and every other white person in the room.

(Sidenote: Let me just say I’ve seen my husband call stuff out before. He’s my idol in many ways. He cares not about upsetting people no matter how much he likes or respects them. But I am not like that.)

It comes as no surprise that I fear conflict. And I fear shooting the word: RACIST at people I otherwise like/love and/or respect. But these occurrences yesterday with a bigger spotlight – and the loud blowback I’ve seen from the women of color I follow – have reminded me: WE CAN NOT LET THIS STUFF STAND.

The scary thing about calling these things racist is that we all have to realize that – based on the society we were raised in – we’ve probably said this racist shit too. I mean, I don’t have any concrete memories in my head so I trick myself into believing I’ve never said it, but I’ve ignored worse and does that make me better?

So I’m looking at those two instances yesterday and imagining comments made at a social gathering, or a family gathering, or a professional gathering. Let’s say we’re all watching the news and someone says what O’Reilly said. What do I say? What does someone like me – the avoider of ALL face-to-face conflict – say in situations like this? How do you tell someone their words are racist without calling them a racist? Because the POINT of addressing the comments is to enlight the person, right? To open their minds to the subtle racism we all partake in and don’t realize? So angering them won’t teach them…right? How do I address these issues in a way that might actually open their eyes a little?

Here are my attempts.

Person A: “I didn’t hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig.”

Me: “You know what? I learned recently that there has been a long history of black women being persecuted unfairly because of their hair. Even in the military they were held to different standards which required more time and effort just because of their hair. These were terrible indignities only afforded to them because of their race, so I’ve come to understand that any comments about a black woman’s hair carries racist undertones. Therefore, I am trying to teach my kids that – even if think they’re being funny – comments about a black woman’s hair are unacceptable. I just don’t want our words to unintentionally carry any historical reference to racist indignities, you know?”

Or what about with a similar Spicer moment


Person B: “I wish she would stop shaking her head like that.”

Me: “You know what? I was reading recently about how the Angry Black Girl archetype is one used to oppress the voices of black women. When a black woman was angry in the civil rights movement, her words could be dismissed by painting her in this way of just needing an attitude adjustment. Since then I’ve noticed even I seem to reflexively dismiss the voice of an angry black woman and so I’m trying to recognize the racial undertones in commenting on the attitude of a black woman. Because, let’s be honest, we wouldn’t call out a white man for shaking his head, would we?”

I know there are people that say, “Tender-footing racism does no good.” But I learned, and am continuing to learn. Not because someone called me a racist, but because someone kindly pointed out the racism in my words. I don’t want to pass on the opportunities to do the same in the future. I want to be brave. I want my kids to see me calling out these moments instead of glossing over them so that they can learn to do the same.

It’s Never Too Late To Wake Up.

I’ve documented before how I – regrettably – had to wake up to systemic racism. I had my privileged blinders on until George Zimmerman was found Not Guilty in the Trayvon Martin murder. It was then that I realized: The system is racist. The system is conditioned to criminalize young boys in hoodies before they’ve done anything illegal. The burden of proof is on the innocent where young black men are concerned. Their guilt is assumed, their innocence must be supported by good character, while white frat boys raping drunk girls at college parties get off with a slap on the wrist.

Since then I’ve done everything in my power to keep learning. To keep my eyes and my heart open to painful truths. I sit in my discomfort and examine it and find more power behind it. I reflect on my defensiveness and I try to look through the eyes of someone who has not grown up or lived with the privilege my skin has given me. I reflect on THEIR truths, not on MY discomfort.

When it comes to racism – that’s something I have to always remind myself: It’s never about me.

On the day of the election, several of my favorite voices – mostly black women – were writing about how racist the suffragette movement was in many ways. This was all new to me, as with a lot of our black history. During that time, white women were trying to secure the vote and found that pushing Black Women to the shadows made their efforts more palatable. Even if they had supported abolition and freedom for slaves, things changed when it came to the suffragettes. Many openly campaigned against the black vote, implying that white women should have been allowed to vote before black men, that the black man should not have more rights than the white woman.

Yet in 1870, the suffragists found themselves on opposing ends of the equal-rights battle when Congress passed the 15th Amendment, enabling black men to vote (at least, in theory) — and not women. That measure engendered resentment among some white suffragists, especially in the South.
Source

This was hard for me to read on a day when I wanted to celebrate women like Susan B. Anthony. But I read it and I sought to educated myself on Ida B. Wells – An African American Woman who was also fighting in the suffragette movement. I sat on all of this and learned from it. Since then I’ve been keeping my mind and heart open to ideas of intersectionality.

Intersectionality was on my mind in the wake of the Women’s March this weekend, as many Black Women wrote about the March. There are several good pieces I sat with including Kelly Wickham Hurst’s Facebook post.

Let’s dig into the “zero arrests” thing. Because it’s making my entire ass itch.

To accompany this, let’s also look at the videos of protestors going up to a line of police officers and shaking hands, high-fiving them and hugging them.

If we don’t dig right into this we could miss an important lesson that’s really trying to get taught.

There were no arrests because of the supremacy of whiteness. The inherent goodness of non-threatening white ladydom. The pinkness and innocence. The stereotypes, y’all.

There were “zero arrests” because of whiteness. We really have to understand this and stop back-patting over how “good” and “peaceful” this march was. The dichotomy of seeing police officers show up in matching pink hats and handing out flowers as opposed to showing up in riot gear is just, whew.

We have to walk this thinking all the way down the line or else we can slip and fall into a vat of self-congratulatory privilege and never come up for air again. We gotta call the roll on this one as well as how we frame the inconvenience of protests we didn’t participate in previously.

Otherwise, you ain’t checking for everybody.

I kept seeing all of the “no arrests!” reports and feeling weird about it and Kelly’s post helped me validate my feelings. This is the change I’m seeing since waking to systemic racism, a part of me now seems to be aware of the subtle racism even if I can put it into words. I knew this “no arrests” line of praise was not something I felt comfortable shouting, I just wasn’t sure why.

I also read this piece about intersectionality at the march:

Intersectional feminism isn’t leaving thank you notes on the cars of police officers, and high-fiving them for being nice to you at your march, while completely ignoring that if this march had been BLM, law enforcement would conduct themselves with hostility. If only you’d seen how the chants went to murmurs when it was time to say “Black Lives Matter” or “refugees are welcome here!”. Ignoring these very facts alone is the root of the problem when it comes to feminism.”

And then finally I read and sat with this poem by Johnetta Elzie. Here is a small part of the powerful truths:

Where were you when we asked you to #SayHerName?When Rekia Boyd was killed while playing at the park with her friends?
When Tanisha Anderson, Sandra Bland, Shantel Davis, and others died at the hands of police, with little media attention?
When our trans sisters — Brandi Bledsoe, Rae’Lynn Thomas, Dee
Whigham — were also murdered and also forgotten?
Where were you?

I read all of these words and soaked them in because – as many have said before – it is not the job of the Black Woman to educate the White Woman. Black women voted against Trump in a 94% majority. White women did not.

I read these words and I think about our history and how I want my stance to be preserved in history during these tumultuous times. How I’m glad I’ve said the name Sandra Bland when I was asked to by my brown sisters. History will show that I did learn at some point, and I will keep learning. I will sit with the words of these painful truths as many times as I have to in order to create true intersectionality. I will not apologize for hurting feelings because I remember when my feelings were hurt – and then I remembered the most important lesson I’ve learned in ages.

BLACK LIVES > WHITE FEELINGS.

There are a lot of exclusionary practices I have participated in ignorantly. I didn’t consider my Trans Sisters when loving all of the images of biological reproductive systems. Those images define “woman” on a biological level when my Trans Sisters are trying to changing that view. I didn’t know about the 750,000 Black Women who marched in Philadelphia in 1997, and I realize those participants and the black women who celebrated them, might have felt jaded by all of the attention the white women in pink hats were getting this weekend. Wouldn’t they have loved to have had all of us at their backs when they took a stand.

But I’m learning and I’ll keep sharing my lessons so that maybe I can save others from the same discomfort.

Racism is hidden in seemingly benign language if you’re white. For example, WhiteHouse.gov – who has deleted their racism section – now has chosen to boast that the Trump Administration is the presidency of Law & Order.

Sounds GREAT, doesn’t it? Love it! Law and Order!

That is an example of hidden racism. It’s the same thing that had me naively supporting the Bill Clinton 1994 Crime Bill. When you’re white and not inherently scared of the police, Law & Order sounds great. However, it has been proven time and time again that these attitudes and the associated legislation negatively impacts the minorities in our communities, especially young black men. Watch the documentary The 13th. Read The New Jim Crow. See the stats that demonstrate how this increase of policing creates more racial divides and punishes the poor and the minorities at a higher level than equivalent white people.

We have to be aware of how our government will disguise racism. And we can’t fall victim to the same language. Just like Kelly said that bragging about the No Arrests thing is due to the “The inherent goodness of non-threatening white ladydom. The pinkness and innocence. The stereotypes, y’all.” If we had replaced every face with a brown one the police would not have been given high-fives and wearing pink hats. And if you believe they would have, then we are coming from two different levels of understanding of our culture and there’s no place in the middle for us to meet.

It would have been different. Period. And the second we recognize that and understand it as true, we learn to see this in many other places, many other times. And that’s where I’ve been. I’m finally open enough to this type of subtle racism that I felt the underlying racism behind these reports of “no crime” – it’s not something you inherently see at first. But I felt weird bragging about it, like there was something icky about it.

We all need to start to feel icky. That’s a sign that we’re learning to spot the subtleties of the systemic racism that surrounds us. We need to be alert to the criminalizing of poverty. We need to recognize the safety these white bodies gives us and be brave to stand up for our brown brothers and sisters because – more often than not – we have nothing to lose.

Modifying the Zoot Approach

I’m do a lot of reading about Black Lives Matter and Criminal Justice Reform and I follow a lot of writers who address white privilege and how to be an ally. And there is a definitely a divide in how people think we should be discussing white privilege and racism with non-believers. There’s what I like to call the Zoot Approach which is where you try to get people to understand with relatable language (I often bring up the lessons I’ve had to learn so no one thinks I’m perfect) and empathy. It’s less confrontational and more conversational. It allows for time as it sometimes takes awhile for people to really understand the complexities of systemic racism. People like me hope that in the long run, this method changes more hearts and makes more progress than harsh confrontation and criticism.

But some days I wonder if the Zoot Approach is validating racist systems before it tries to tear them down.

Kimberly Foster does amazing videos on the For Harriet channel that often encourage the opposite approach. And every time I watch one I think. Shit. She is totally right. Her most recent one criticized Trevor Noah, not for the Lahren interview, but for his response to criticism afterwards as he pushed the Zoot Approach (he didn’t call it that, obviously). Here are some of the best quotes from it.

In theory, coming to a base level of understanding with the Right seems like a great idea but that requires betraying the trust of the people who are most marginalized. We are talking about people who can’t leave their identities at the door to come to a compromise.

we’re asked to engage racism as a valid political viewpoint

Yeah, there might be people who are converted through conversation but racism acts as a complex deeply entrenched set of systems, it’s not just about individuals.

To say both sides are equal is to say both sides are equally threatened or threatening that’s not true.

And I’m just so tired of people wagging their finger at us, the people who are victimized daily by systems that threaten to kill us, to tell us that we are being impolite.

I got another taste of it reading this soul-punching piece in reaction to Van Jones’ Love Army (which I adore as a privileged white person, of course). Here are some key quotes from that.

I learned from this dumbass ordeal that bigotry is based in belief. It’s emotional, not factual or scientific. That is the reason that you can’t reason it out of people. But you can’t love it out of their asses, either. Sorry Van Jones.

In the same way that so many millions of black people can harbor generational resentment of white people but still deal with them nonviolently, civilly, and productively, white people should be forced to deal with us the same way, even if they believe every single bullshit stereotype about us. It shouldn’t matter whether they “like” us or “love” us or not.

….

I’m just saying–black people are already a love army. The fact that we haven’t attempted, at any time, on a wide scale, to burn this country to the ground for what it did and continues to do to us, despite how we have fought, labored, and died for it–and in it–and because of it–shows that we are filled with love for our fellow Americans.

Racist people’s selective blindness to that is an indication that they will only ever see what they want to see when they look at us, no matter what we do.

So we should stop putting on all these performances of “respectability” and “morality” for them and do something that will actually improve our condition.

We should love ourselves enough to fight for what we want, not roll over and beg like good little pets.

Both of these angles address something called “tone policing” and I see it often. I got added to a bunch of Pantsuit Nation groups after the election and I can’t keep up with all of them, but there was a debate in one of them that involved a lot of tone policing. I didn’t dig into it because there’s too much going on in most of those groups and I can’t keep up with it all, but there were people calling out someone’s tone policing when they talked about how they (as a privileged white person) feel beat up a lot by black writers taking the stances I mention above and requested that everyone just “play nice” type of thing.

There were plenty of people calling her out on it and by the time I saw it the conversation had gotten a little out of control, but this is something I have to make sure I’m not doing. The Zoot Approach is not as much a deliberate decision to be passive, it’s really a reflection of who I am at my core. I’m not confrontational, I have a lot of empathy so I try to relate to people no matter how much I disagree with them. However, I am starting to feel more and more like time is not on my side. And I’m still letting people say things that I should be calling out because I’m worried about upsetting relationships or hurting feelings.

(Yes. I know. I’m adequately ashamed.)

I have had many people tell me my approach has helped them open their eyes to something they wouldn’t have seen if it had been yelled at them. So I’m not saying there’s not a point to my approach, but where do I need to draw the line? This is not just casual friends on Facebook. I’ve got deeper and more important relationships in jeopardy. These people who just say they’re not going to be friends with Trump supporters, I just can’t do that. Someone told me recently that putting politics into relationships was petty and part of me understood and agreed but then another part of me heard Kimberly Foster’s voice reminding me, “WE DO NOT HAVE TIME TO BE POLITE.”

Our criminal justice system is so complexly racist and it is removing men from families indefinitely. If they return, they are broken and thrown into a society that won’t have anything to do with them. They can’t get jobs, they can’t vote, they are angry and find solace in other angry people abandoned by the same system and they turn to violence and crime and then end up imprisoned again. It’s a cycle that starts with suspension in schools that puts kids in the private prison pipeline where businesses make money of criminals.

My friend Leah posted something the other day and I think it’s valid. She said she can’t engage in conversations without people agreeing to educate themselves in certain ways. And y’all? I am starting to kinda take the same approach. If you REALLY want to have a conversation with me defending our criminal justice system? I need you to read The New Jim Crow and watch The 13th first.

So I learn these things, I read these books, I watch these movies and I think about the Zoot Approach. And I think about lives in danger. I think about Mexican families who have raised children here and now may be sent home any day after doing nothing wrong other than trying to create a future for their children. The hope of a path to citizenship from the Obama administration for children who grew into adulthood as illegal immigrants knowing only our country, is now gone. They have committed no crimes other than trying to escape harm and poverty. And now they might be sent back to a country that hasn’t been home for a long time and thrown into a war zone. I think about mothers raising black sons in a country that has demonstrated time and time again that their lives are valued less than those of their white counterparts. I think about poor people who have been misguided by their trusted media sources to think this new President has their best interest at heart. I think about trans men and women who live in parts of the country where they can be forced into a dangerous situation simply for using the bathroom.

There are lives at stake. The Zoot Approach is too slow. I need to learn to pushback on tone policing as equal rights are to be afforded to all people – not because they’re nice – but because they are citizens of this country. I need to not let people openly support laws that prevent our marginalized citizens from having their voices heard in their votes, without challenging them. I need to ask people who cite the Black Panthers like some sort of pantheon of violence and white hatred if they’ve ever watched Black Power Mixtape or Vanguard of the Revolution. Did you know the Black Panthers provided meals and education to the black children abandoned by our country? I need to call people out for spitting out lines from Breitbart as if they’re a fact-based news source.

And I need to check myself when I a black activist calls out the Zoot Approach (not by that name, that would be weird) and I feel defensive. People of color suffer in silence all around me. They quietly take the abuses because if they jump up and speak out and point out the unfairness, they have a lot to lose. They could lose their job, their freedom, their life. What do I have to lose? Nothing. Why do I feel the need to so gingerly step around the issues? My skin color protects me, and yet I’m trying to be careful? If anyone should be bold with their stance it should be those of us with little at risk. I can’t change the inherent nature of my peace-keeping, but I will take steps to be more deliberate with my approach, I will be more bold with my arguments, I will risk losing friends because that’s small in comparison to the things the marginalized around me risk losing every day.

The Grief Period Is Over.

Tomorrow is officially four weeks post-election. Since then I’ve attended a 4 gatherings set up solely to discuss political action. That’s four more than I’ve ever attended in my entire life. I’ve set up a political digest with a calendar where we are accumulating all local events that either support communities who could be negatively impacted by the new administration, or events that support the political advancement of more progressive candidates in North Alabama. That’s a lot to have done in four weeks. Right?

I say this because the mourning period is over. I have to come out of my echo chamber. I said for years that echo chambers were dangerous, and that I was only creating one for temporarily self care, and now it’s time to let go of it.

I found a great document last week – “Opportunities for White People In The Fight For Racial Justice” and it was SO CHOCKED FULL of information that I wanted to just memorize it all. It has sinse been moved to an actual website and I encourage everyone to take time to read every word. There’s great links/resources and great plans of attack. I love this thing and plan on making it my bible.

One of my key takaways in the your white communities section is:

Reach out to other White people in your life (family members, old friends, distant social media connections) to engage them in conversations about racism, Whiteness, etc. Bonus points for seeking out and engaging (White) Trump voters in your personal networks.

Um. Yeah. I don’t do that. Not at all. It was a struggle to coach myself on how to engage when I feel like someone has said something racist…BUT ACTUALLY REACHING OUT TO START THE CONVERSATION BEFORE IT GETS THERE? That’s a level I haven’t reached yet.

But I need to.

It’s not like I’m letting people who drop the N-word go about their lives like that’s okay. Not at all. But I know I’ve had my hackles raised at hearing comments that I’ve not addressed. And I’ve worked really hard to coach myself to deal with that in a proper way. But to actually initiate conversations? I just can’t see how that works. But you know what I can see? How important it is. I actually have been thinking about that – about how to start these conversations. And maybe it makes me The Person No One Ever Wants To Talk To Anymore, but I can feel how important it is.

But one thing I know I can do is stop ignoring shit on Facebook. I had convinced myself that to engage on someone else’s wall is a social intrusion. Bring white privilege to my wall and you’ll get called out, but I’m not going to go to YOUR wall and call YOU out on YOUR status.

Partly because I’m a chicken.

And partly because I’ve now unfollowed everyone who says that type of stuff.

And as of tomorrow? The vacation is over. I’m going back in and (trying) to remember all of the people I’ve unfollowed in the last four weeks and follow them back. I can’t live in my echo chamber anymore. Not if I want to make a real difference in my real communities.