Okay, so I posted the meme you see here about the recent shooting of an unarmed black man in his own apartment by an off-duty white cop on my personal facebook page. Several hours later while I am working, my daughter calls to tell me there is a storm brewing on my page that I might want to take a look at. I am so swamped with my job as a university professor teaching diversity and globalization that I choose to wait until my day is finished to take a look. If you are on my personal facebook you already know me personally and know my views, perspectives, and what I do for a living. But I am torn between wanting to be my ideal-self and wanting to just delete it all and pretend it didn’t happen.
I am a teacher and a mom, it isn’t just what I do, it is who I am. My daughter had called out of concern, and other friends are getting upset. How do I rise above the fray, remain true to my principles, and not betray my identity? I try to teach, not just about racism, power, and privilege – about understanding, bias, sensitivity, and forgiveness.
I ask for help understanding why this topic has twice been so sensitive that over 50 replies are entered on my facebook wall, and they are not always nice. Yet, I do know that this bit of awkwardness and discomfort, however painful, is nothing compared to the continued pain and oppression of racism suffered by my friends of color. Or my LGBT friends, those with different abilities or with mental health concerns. It is my small part to bear, to not stop the discussion – to not stop posting – to not unfriend folks – and to reassure my daughter, my friends, and myself that I am ok.
I behave as if this is worth it, I remind myself to speak even when my voice shakes, that it is white folks that need to deal with racism, and yet deep inside, in a dark corner where I hide sometimes, I sob my heart out because some of my white friends (and family) just can’t see what they do to me and my family when they refuse to accept that oppression due to race is real and WE need to stop it.