I recently read a thought-provoking blog post that has remained with me. The blog writer, Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith, asked this question in her recent post on the continued existence of racism (her link is below):
If people knew better, would they do better?
I first contemplated “if people knew better” and my own ignorance about racism…
My childhood home was in a largely white neighborhood community; I didn’t know any black people until I went to college. So, my lack of awareness may have stemmed from this lack of diversity in my life. Racism didn’t seem to impact me or anyone I knew, so it was a topic but not an issue. Fortunately, my parents were loving and gracious, but I did occasionally hear racist remarks – and racial misunderstandings – from other adults and youth. I also understood the term, “racism” as solely describing the hateful words and acts from individuals, not aware of the larger systems that have continued to harm and oppress people of color.
In more recent years, as I became concerned about the injustices against LGTBQ+ people, I also began reading and learning more about racism. In her posts, Rev. Dr. Smith has shared some of the shocking incidents and issues that I had not previously known. This new (to me) information has enlightened, upset, and compelled me to do more.
And so, the second part of her question, “would they do better?” really struck me.
I am only beginning to understand the pain that black and indigenous people have suffered for so long. Perhaps my first step is to grieve not only for my ignorance but for the pain and injustice they have suffered. I also plan to continue learning, so that I can vote accordingly, write to leaders, donate to the agencies working for justice, address misunderstandings, and help spread the awareness of the injustices that prevail.
This is the reason for my post today. I have found that my regular readers are people of faith who want to deepen in God and in love, to listen and learn, and so I imagine that most of you have already been aware of these issues. But if you have been like me – on the outer edge of awareness – I hope you will welcome my sincere invitation to learn more about racial history, policies, abuses, and injustices.
Reading about racism has made me quite uncomfortable at times (one afternoon I had to close the book and regroup for a moment), but my discomfort is nothing like the suffering that others have suffered. When I experience feelings of guilt, defensiveness, or dismay, I regard them as lessons to learn, as well as opportunities to do better – now that I know better.
I am listing a few of the helpful resources I have found – if you have additional resources to share, please add them in the comments!
Peace, dear friends. Thank you for reading these thoughts today.
https://candidobservation.com/2023/04/13/if-people-knew-better-would-they-do-better/ (Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith)
https://www.racialequityinsights.com/ (also found on Instagram)
How to Be an Antiracist (Kendi)
Not So Black and White: An Invitation to Honest Conversations about Race and Faith (Dabbs, Driver)
(Photo by James Eades on Unsplash)
Karen, thank you for this. I often wonder if the things I write make a difference; I truly believe that writing is a weapon against the things that keep us ignorant. That you were moved by that piece I wrote is everything. Thank you …for reading it and for being so supportive of my work.
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Your writing has been so eye and heart-opening. Thank YOU. I’m grateful we have connected.
In my youth they called me Zipperhead,
or sometimes Ching Chong Chink,
but I can’t say that my heart bled,
nor did I lose a single wink
of sleep over these perceived slights,
and I can well say this because
for all the browns and blacks and whites,
that’s just what the world was.
So please don’t call me BIPOC,
for that’s racism too;
I laugh and smile and bleed and talk
surprisingly like you,
and in my heart you’re gonna find
commitment to be colourblind.
Yes, we have all been called insulting names at one time or another… and I know you understand that racism is much more than name-calling. And we do not need to be colorblind; from what I have learned, color is to be seen – and appreciated. Thanks, Andrew.
The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee is an excellent book (and there’s a podcast on Spotify) describing several examples of how systemic racism has hurt all Americans. It also describes examples of how effective change happens when we work together.
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Oh I will check that out! Thank you, Nancy. We can discuss at our next coffee. 🤗