I think many think it is. My experiences are different to white people. Once we can acknowledge this, then we can be in a position to honestly consider and discuss why. I remain cognisant that I continue to learn too, I do not have all the answers.
I aim to get it right, not be right. I am here to listen and discuss, but I so rarely get the opportunity to do this with people who have different experiences to me.
A friend recently mentioned, a black in a position of authority in a local government
office, with 95%+ white workers, said it so well, the noise around trying to be or understand antiracist is silent.
The work of antiracism, is about becoming a better person to other people. When we understand this, and can begin to accept the
uncomfortable feelings that either party may feel, then the work can begin. But when the opportunity arises to discuss racism, particularly the reality and the impact of structural racism, it seems that someone is the problem, and more often than not, society
suggests that problem is me.
The burden of leading and defending my position on racism and the hope for a better world for all, lies with me. 'I am not racist.' I hear often, less so now, but I still hear it. I have also written about how it is not
for you to decide if you are racist, just as it is not for me to decide if I am kind, others will make their own decision. I will try not be be unkind and others will try to be antiracist, but the description of yourself is not owned by you but by others because
of the actions that you do. I have previously written about cognitive dissonance, a set of behaviours that allows people to protect their ego and prevent the conversation to reach the apex of change. With cognitive dissonance in tow, nothing changes
and we continue to listen to our voice while our own ego gives us a wry smile.
Brene Brown often discusses ego, as does the well known author, Eckhart Tolle. Brene says the ego is not our friend and makes us worse people as we seek to protect
ourselves and our beliefs, values and behaviours. Some are worth protecting, but wanting to protect a stance on racism or a stance that denies structural racism exists prevents change and keeps people in chains and tears.
This goes for blacks and browns
too. Just because they may not have experienced a level of racism that others have, it is wrong to deny racism exists or the extent to which it may exist for them. As someone who pushes boundaries and sits round tables mainly whites sit at, I know racism exists.
When I didn't push boundaries and sat around tables many white and a few black or brown people sat around I too could have denied experiences of racism, but as I tried to climb on the steps of my ambition, I was constantly pushed back down and I could
no longer deny racism existed at those tables or on those steps. One reason why I travel extensively is because I want to see it and feel it for myself. Confuscius 'I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.' I want to understand
how to be a better person. I really do. I can and will never deny that the majority of people I encounter are wonderful, helpful, kind, promote social injustice and equity, but there are those out there who do not understand and do not want to understand and
it is to those that I want to talk with, to better understand. Because I currently do not understand why.
Trying to reach for the same heights your white peers and aiming for the same golden apple, but being repeatedly denied the helping
hand and worse, feeling that you have been spat at, stamped on and laughed at, only seeks to remind you that structural racism exists. Structural racism is full of shame, hatred and a drive to protect the legacy of white supremacy and privilege and equity
is nowhere in sight.
Remember fighting for equality for women a few decades ago? While women were trying to reach for the same heights as their male peers and aiming for the same golden apple, but being repeatedly denied the helping hand
and worse, feeling that they had been spat at, stamped on and laughed at, only sought to remind them that the patriarchy existed. If women displayed behaviours such as assertiveness, confidence, competiveness and ambition in the work place or in the
gym or in the pub or in the sparring ring, traditionally male dominated spaces, they were labelled aggressive or trouble making or nasty or belligerent, yet if a man displayed those behaviours, that was natural and acceptable! I used to do Tae Kwon Do and
was often labelled aggressive. I would like to share a conversation with others on how women can win fighting championships and remain non-competitive and reserved, and even discuss should they?
The work behind becoming a better person is hard.
Entering into those lessons voluntarily often throws us in the midst of owning our embarrassment, our ignorance, our shame and our lack of intelligence. Our ego will do anything to help us protect ourselves from those feelings. It protects us from feeling
pain like we have never known before. Why do we want to enter onto a journey where we cry rivers of guilt, shame, pity and anger. Why? Because without this journey we continue to hide behide our doors of shame and ignorance.
As humans we are designed
to connect. Mental health issues have been on the rise recently during the pandemic as many have felt isolated, disconnected and undervalued. So let's connect and begin to recognise the importance and the need to dismantle structural racism. Let's start by
talking. I will be there to listen and I will try to be a better person.