Taking a hard look at ourselves

August 28, 2017

hard-lookLike me, many of you are taking a hard look at yourself and your own biases. If nothing else, that’s what the awful political situation in the country has done for us.

I can’t shake this thought: Suppose on the morning of her death, someone had asked Heather Heyer, “At the march today, you’re going to be killed by a white supremacist and become a worldwide symbol of resistance. Are you still willing to go?”

I’m pretty sure the answer would be “No.” Because very few people would agree to be martyred, even for a cause they deeply believe in.

But what do we really believe?

Her death and all that’s led up to it has really made me look at myself. A hard look.  And an important catalyst to that examination is a book I just read.

If you’re white and read only one book on race, this is the book you need to read:

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson.

I read it slowly, taking in everything Dr. Dyson had to say, reflecting on my own attitudes and beliefs and subtleties of my beliefs I might not have consciously noticed.

These were my thoughts

I thought about the murder of Trayvon Martin–something that still horrifies me in ways I can’t even express–a kid who was stalked and killed for Walking While Black.  That was his “crime.”

I thought about George Zimmerman’s acquittal and what it said about parts of our country. And about the perceived inherent threat in being black.

I tried to put myself in the shoes of a person of color walking down the street, driving down the street, walking into a store.

I tested my own biases by considering how I’d feel if I were walking late at night and encountered a group that looked like white thugs. Or that looked like black thugs. Or that were dressed in ethnic attire. Or in business casual. 

I asked myself why bad cops felt they had to beat African American suspects over and over and over; harder and harder with rage that I can’t even relate to.

And I thought about the story Dr. Dyson relates of his anesthesiologist-son being pulled over by a racist police officer who jacked him around over and over— knowing he was an M.D.—almost enraged because of his education–and how this smart and educated man had to shuck and jive to make sure he wasn’t killed by a cop in front of his five-year-old son who was in the car.

I thought about that white supremacist website calling people like Kamala Harris a “baboon”– a woman who has at least 100 IQ points more than those calling her that name.

These were my questions

And I asked myself about my own biases and how I can be a better ally.

This book will change your life.  It’s not very long. It can be hard to read, not because of the language, but because it forces us to confront ourselves in ways white American is not used to. But we NEED to.

Please do read this book. And pass it around. Or buy it for others, as I have just done.

Thank you.

Yes, that’s an affiliate link.



41 comments on “Taking a hard look at ourselves
  1. Jennifer Dunham says:

    Sounds like a good one. Looking forward to it!

  2. Ellen Dolgen says:

    It sounds like a powerful read. Thank you for sharing this. I shall pass it on!

  3. Diane says:

    The one good thing that has come out of the horrifying landscape right now is self-examination. Do I agree with these people shouting such terrible things? Where do I stand. It has really opened eyes I thought were already opened. (We watched Black Like Me in high school and studied the book. It changed my life then. This is changing my life now.)
    I will definitely read this book…

  4. Barbara says:

    THanks for the heads up!

  5. Excellent suggestion. It’s hard to walk in another person’s shoes, especially when you aren’t being openly targeted. I am hoping that all the divisive taunts from the orange one and it’s resulting open hatred and violence will be a catalyst for more people speaking out and working to change the world for the better. Sometimes the worst situations bring out the best in us because I believe there are much more good people than bad.

  6. BeTh Havey says:

    We are on the same wave length. TODAY, my post comes from reading a column by Erin Aubry Kaplan — A New Reckoning for Whiteness. And after reading it, I did GO BACK. Was angry with myself for tolerating some of the things I did as NORMAL. Mostly conversation like: “Wow, that neighborhood changed overnight.” Which in Chicago was white speak for “blacks moving in”. We are more than responsible for crime numbers. You CANNOT push and drag a people backwards for decades and not expect anger, resentment. I liked the ad THE TALK. Haven’t seen it on TV though. Scared white power people afraid of the truth. Will get the book. Thanks.

  7. Sounds like a powerful and thought-provoking read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.

  8. Liz Mays says:

    This sounds like a really helpful book. It’s definitely important for people to recognize and begin to address the underlying problems with inequality in our society.

  9. Jen Temcio says:

    I am going to take your advice and read this. There are so many stories that are unfathomable…the one of Dr. Dyson’s son was horrifying. As a white person in America there is no way for me to fully understand racial prejudice, but it is important to me to stay educated and aware.

  10. This sounds like an amazing read. I think it’s important for us as white men and women to take a seriously look at ourselves, how we view our world, how the world really is, and if those two thing jive.

  11. Haralee says:

    Great recommendation. Thanks!

  12. Any book that can help bring the races together and help relations is a good one to me. I think we have come a long way but have a lot more to do in this area.

  13. Myrah Duque says:

    Seems like a great book that many should take the time to read.As a Hispanic, I understand it is perhaps difficult for many to understand racial prejudice; however, this shouldn’t be an excuse to not recognize the problems out there. W need to stay humble. We are all human beings.Thanks for your thoughts, LOVED them.

  14. Julie Torres says:

    Love the title of the book, it makes you want to want to read about it more.

  15. I think we always need to ask ourselves questions, not only on race but just how we treat people in general. There’s a whole lot of judging going on now and it’s going to be a long road to where we are all just “humans”

  16. Pam says:

    This sounds like a really powerful book. It is really important to evaluate our beliefs and biases.

  17. Theresa says:

    This sounds like a book we should all take the time to read. It’s easy for some to turn a blind eye to the injustices of minorities in this country, but it’s something we all need to come together to put a stop to. If the shoe were on the other foot, we’d surely hope someone else would step in and stand up for us as well.

  18. Annette says:

    Thank you, Carol, for reading this book and sharing it with your readers. So many African and Native American people have died and while some of us Whites showed regret and compassion, very few actually did anything about it. Now that Heather, a white woman, was murdered by someone who would typically choose a person of color as their victim – now we know that it could be any of us. Now we are scared enough to care and organize and read and discuss how we have been complicit in a system that has allowed systemic racism to foster for so long. Let’s not go back to sleep….

  19. Roxy says:

    Wow, I’m a minority but I’m not black and it always gets to me how there are people who have to worry about just walking down the street. I was here in Dallas when that shooting happened and it was so scary. I’ll definitely have to read this book!

  20. I read for leisure and inspiration while this is an interesting book I see enough in the news prefer lighter topics but thanks for sharing.

  21. This sounds like a great book for discussion. I think so many of us are taking a good look at ourselves these days – and hopefully that will lead to real change.

  22. Dogvills says:

    This is not the society I want my kids and grandchildren to grow up in. There is so much turmoil, so much indifference. I think we must start within our home. Talk to the kids, Teah them to respect others’ uniqueness. Honestly, this makes me really scared.

  23. Julie Syl says:

    Seems like a great book to read. It is really important to analyze our beliefs. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I will definitely read this book.So interesting.

  24. Jeanine says:

    This sounds like a good and powerful read. I would love to check it out myself and give it a read!!

  25. sonali jain says:

    It sounds like a powerful read. Thank you for sharing this. I shall pass it on. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Czjai says:

    Sounds like a nice, inspirational book. Makes a perfect gift, too. 🙂

  27. Shibani says:

    The incident with Heather Heyer,was a real sad one and one can’t even express that in words.The book you recommend seems like a great one to read in these tense world situations. Thanks for sharing.

  28. Kelly Reci says:

    Seems like a great book to read. So interesting. I will definitely check this out.

  29. I like books that open your eyes and make you see the world in a different light. This sounds like one and I’d love to check it out.

  30. Gayathri says:

    Books like these should be made into a compulsory read. What shocked me the most is even newer generations like mine are not realizing that they are being wrong.

    Gayathri @ Musings Over Nothing

  31. Wendy Polisi says:

    I personally don’t know what I would respond. I have a friend who would without a doubt say yes even if she knew it ended poorly. She’s adamant but for me, although passionate about certain topics, I don’t know if it’s THAT passionate.

  32. Perla Jacobs says:

    That incident reminded me of the hundreds of young people who died in Bucharest and other cities almost 27 years ago, fighting against communism. They knew they’re going to die, however, they went out in the street.
    As for me, I’m not sure I’d be capable to be ready to die in order to sustain a cause I believe in. I’d do that only for God, otherwise, I might be prudent.

  33. Rosey says:

    My first to hear of it. I do love to hear book recommendations though! Gracias!

  34. Sounds like a great book. I love thought provoking books and this could be a great read for me

  35. I always love finding new books to read. This sounds like a good one to try.

  36. This sounds like an eye opener. It’s really the first time that I’ve heard of this book and I’m so curious about it.

  37. Elizabeth o says:

    Sadly, those who ought to read Dr Dyson’s seminal book won’t read it. They are content living in a bigoted world that doesn’t affect them directly … or so they think.
    We are all complicit when we turn our backs on unethical, inhumane practices.
    Until we own our prejudice and make a concerted effort to see and respect the humanity in all people, we will remain broken/fragmented; even delusional.
    The choir has heard/knows the message preached, the rest of us need to wake up.❤

  38. This sounds like a book everyone should read! However the people who could probably benefit the most from reading a book like this never will. I’m downloading it now to read!

  39. Christine says:

    It is so important to reflect on our thoughts and feelings about social issues. Events of late are so disturbing to me from all aspects. It seems like things swing from one extreme to the other only perpetuating anger and hate. I can’t even watch the news anymore. My husband and I have gone back to listening to music in the morning instead of the news because I can’t fill my head with all that negativity. Thank you for the recommendation.

  40. I have never read this book or heard of it however it seem like it gets really intense which is what I love in a book

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