A Litmus Test for Racism
I am awake, I am alive, and this morning I am pondering acceptance as the litmus test for racism. Let me explain …
How do we show we accept someone into our world, fully and completely? In my mind, I came up with things like:
– I have a friendship with them.
– I invite them into my home for dinner or to sleep over.
– I would ask them to watch my house while I am out of town.
– I would welcome them dating one of my children.
– I would share my deepest thoughts with them.
– I would have their back, no matter what.
Now that I have created a list (and I truly encourage you to do same), I want you to think of as many cultures, ethnicities, nationalities etc. that are different from your own, who perhaps reside in Canada. This list FOR ME may look like …
– Black people
– Newcomers (from all over)
(Indigenous is not on my list because I am Indigenous but if you aren’t, it should be on your second list.)
Now for the reveal. I have mentioned previously that racism should not be thought of as black or white, good or bad because it is just too easy to dismiss when that happens. No one wants to be “bad” so the quick response is “I’m not a racist” yet to some extent, we all have racist biases. It makes more sense to think of racism on a continuum, from at the low end no exposure to racist thoughts or beliefs at all (and therefore none were internalized) to the extreme other end of extensive exposure to racist thought and deep internalization of those thoughts.
The question is … where are you on the scale? To discover the answer, ask yourself if you would be comfortable doing list one with each group on list two. Take your time but more, be honest.
Now, it is SO EASY to say “OF COURSE!” to all the above but we have to get honest with themselves. Unpacking internal biases is KEY to ending racism. It is not about someone else doing something different. It is about asking ourselves what we believe, those things we don’t admit to or say out loud. Pay special attention to that last question especially as related to black and Indigenous peoples.. On a continent where black and/or Indigenous men and women are truly looked down upon (if not worse), how DO you have their back? Not being a problem is not enough.
If you come across one that makes you uncomfortable, unpack that. Why do you feel that way? What did you see or who taught you to think that way? With a logical brain, does it make sense?
EVERYONE is going to be tempted to post how they are anything but racist. Don’t, please don’t. Instead hold space for those who have some unpacking to do. This is not a space for shame or self-promotion. It’s a space for change, a safe one.
Feel free to share.
I love you!