Like 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.
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