by Dara Kalima
"I am currently reading this book after seeing the New Yorker article about it a few weeks ago. And it is having a profound impact on me though the book is for a white audience written by a white author.
I live in NY and I only read on the train and I much prefer printed books. So this means in all my brownness sit on the train reading this provocative book. As anticipated, just like when I read White Rage by Carol Anderson last year, I can't help but notice how people look at me when they see the book cover. No one has said anything this time, but if they read the title, their body language immediately shifts. WP grimace and stiffen up, disgust seems to be on their face and POC seem to look more intrigued. I feel both empowered and terrified. I worry about the reaction people will have whether it's to be angry or to complain to my job if they see my work ID. Holding this/these book/s are dangerous for me. In fact this post is dangerous for me.
But it also just makes me sad as I read it. In part because of the 9 day long conversation that happened on my wall when I shared the article saying I'd soon be reading it. People, my friends, some I've know for more than a decade, were so quick to dismiss it, feeling it didn't apply to them, judged them, or that it wasn't helpful enough, creating a huge amount of emotional labor for others and for myself.
It also makes me sad because it validates much of my experience as a black person, as the person made to speak and sound in socially acceptable ways. (Do you know how much it hurts to be told thank you for being eloquent and not angry, as if I'm an acceptable bw? If I expressed my anger will my status be diminished? The well-intentioned tone policing is still tone policing.) It makes me sad to see all the ways in which I am isolated, indoctrinated, and trained to be black in a society hostile to me. It also makes me sad as I read statements my friends have said in my presence listed. They think because we are friends they aren't perpetuating supremacy, but they are, I know they are but they still don't get it. And can't really hear me when I try to say it. I'm sad because though not intended for me, it's written in a way that hits home and is too personal and still challenges me to do better in my use of codes used to my and many POC's detriment.
What makes me saddest still is that though I have tons of friends who are not POC so very few take my suggestions to read these books to learn American history and to learn how deeply engrained racism and it's impact is on all of us. I want to just hand out copies of these two books and beg people to really consider them, because my life, my sanity, the sanity and existence of my loved ones are at stake. I shouldn't have to spend my nights counseling a friend or mentees who are POC on how to exist in this world without losing their mind.
This book gives me hope that some will engage in this conversation but it also makes me incredibly sad to see my life on paper and to know how many people are not going to read it.
Please help. Do the work, keep doing the unlearning. Please.
by Betsy Seeton
This is a blog covering and discovering injustice anywhere. It's about race, racism, hatred, love, tolerance, intolerance, ignorance and wisdom. It's about climate change, and all things earth, all things people, plants and animals. It's about change makers and light shiners. It will follow The North Star and report here.
I would like to think that, "One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings," as Franklin Thomas said.