I scroll through my social media feeds sometimes and random clips from random things will show and I have no idea how to pull them back up again so I very VERY much apologize for not being able to source this thing I’m about to use as the basis of a blog entry.
At some point in time Oprah did an interview (or a speech? I can’t remember) where she discussed making a decision about not airing an interview she did (the reasons why are not important) and that she knew she had made the right decision because she felt a sense of peace come over her.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot the last few days, about how there are times in my life where I know I’ve chosen the right path or made the right decision because of a peaceful feeling that swells inside of me. It doesn’t happen with every good decision I make or path I choose, the absence of that peace is not an indicator that I’m wrong, but when that feeling happens I’m often very grateful.
And that peace is something I’ve been thinking about as a way to answer a question I was asked recently, a question I didn’t have a good answer to at the time. I was asked why I have so much guilt/shame for about my white history. And all I knew is that guilt/shame is NOT the feeling I have about white history, but I didn’t know how to convey the feeling I do have about my part of racist history. All I could say was, “I don’t have guilt or shame…” and then proceed with the conversation in other capacities.
But I’ve been thinking about that question a lot because – what do I feel about my white history now that I’m more and more aware of the real history of racism in our country and how it still exists today.
And I think – as it relates to white privilege and racism – I have a sense of peace about it all because I know that my eyes are open to it and that I can’t change the past but I CAN change the future. I think that’s how I knew I was on the right path.
I’ve mentioned before that I had some transition years between the George Zimmerman verdict and the Eric Garner murder. Two years where I still periodically thought All Live Matter or when I wasn’t sure that systemic racism actually exited. During those two years I could not really talk about or think about race very easily because I was overwhelmed by guilt and ignorance and shame and a lot of feelings I didn’t articulate then, but I understand now.
But then after Eric Garner died and I started embracing the Black Lives Matter premise and educating myself about systemic racism, a peace about my own whiteness and my own privilege actually descended upon me. Like, the efforts I was making to talk about my own privilege and to learn about racism erased the complicated guilt and shame of my own whiteness or our country’s racist history. Now it’s something I can talk about and read about and know that I’m on the right path to improvement and that peace is how I knew I was doing the right thing.
It’s similar with politics in general. Before 2008 I was very quiet about my own politics because I was a blue dot in a very red state, but excitement over Obama got me out of my shell and I started being more open about my own political views. And when I started openly discussing them and not hiding in secrecy, a peace came over me because I knew that people knew what they were getting with me. There’s something peaceful about knowing that – if you’re Facebook friends with me at least – you will never misunderstand me political leanings. I don’t have to worry about people gay bashing around me or mocking Black Lives Matter or making jokes about Trans people.
I don’t know, I just really like that concept. That there are times you can feel confident about a choice or a path simply because the turmoil before you found it has faded. Peace has settled at least in those few areas of my life so I can work on the chaos in other areas. I may not be certain I’m parenting my kids the best way, but I know I’m on the right path regarding systemic racism and personal politics. And that peace is valuable.