Ive felt all the feels this week. When you live in a country where we claim #blacklivesmatter yet black men are treated as targets in our back yards, its very disheartening. Its sick. And gross.
And in a country where there is so much hatred on top of the already implicit biases and assumptions about black people. I am angry.
I am a white, upper-class, heterosexual, female American citizen from Seattle. I come from privilege on top of privilege. I won’t deny it. Denying it makes my experience seem comparable to the experience of others and it is clearly not.
My boyfriend, and life partner, is a black, heterosexual male American citizen from Detorit. But his story can’t be explained in categories. Being “black” alone means that many of the privileges offered to me are stripped from him.
I will give you one example. Ive always felt safe where ever I go. When we travel whether internationally or just down the street, I am the one joyfully skipping the streets and naively welcoming all the adventure I can get. Im blonde haired, blue eyed, and white. Alex is more cautious. He walks slower and looks in all directions. I have often roasted him for it and even crowned him the “safety president”. Alex tells me he can’t afford the misstep. I get to dance through the streets and he has to walk slowly to see how others may react to him.
And so, it is these types of things that I am thinking about. Im feeling all the feels.
Iv’e thought a lot about racism and discrimination before George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery etc… My work in social justice began in 2008 when I went to Mexico on a study abroad trip and studied cultural psychology as well as racism and discrimination. It was during this time that I was first exposed to terms like “acting white”, white privilege, cultural appropriation, implicit bias, micro-aggression, model minority, structural racism, passing, and so on… We read and watched movies and read articles that spoke to these subjects. I dove into the real history of America. I heard from my black classmates and I listened. And I felt ashamed. I was ashamed of my whiteness. But it was nothing compared to the experiences of my black brothers and sisters.
I keep asking myself, why the hell did it take until my junior year of college for me to learn these terms? To hear people of color experiences? To grow? But we know the answer. It is because of White Privilege. I never had to. It was NOT pertinent to my upper class college-bound predominately white bubble.
When I left Mexico I made a commitment to social justice on both the systemic level and on a personal level. I was going to work toward systemic change by becoming a school counselor. And I would work on a personal change by continuing my learning and growth in the area of social justice.
Diving the pedagogy of racism and discrimination changed my life forever. Not long after I had my first black boyfriend. My circle of people of color began to expand. And I went to school to earn my masters in school counseling so that I could work in a underprivileged and diverse school and use my skill set to start creating systemic change. I have been a fighter in the educational world and over the years I have strongly advocated for equity and trauma-sensitive schools on all fronts.
But I can do more and need to do more. Im feeling all the feels. And I understand as a school counselor, educated in what it takes to be a more just society, I owe it to ALL my students to lead the charge when it comes to racism and discrimination. And to my future children. It is my responsibility to advocate, to protest, to inform, and to lead the charge. And I have decided that I am going to recommit to doing this.
To start, I am meeting with groups of my students through Zoom to process what is going on in our nation and to educate them about the facts. To find out exactly what I am doing check it out here:
I am also recommitting myself to reading pedagogy on race and discrimination starting with the book White Fragility.
And this is just a start. Im feeling all the feels. So stay tuned.