Folks and Friends in the White community,
Thank you so much for reaching out to me and my family. I’m thankful that I am in a position to see and share your responses with Black and Brown students who have rarely witnessed or experienced their White community advocate for them. It has been powerful to watch your awakening.
My delay in response was taking space for myself and loved ones to grieve the crack in the pandemic bubble that allowed us for the first time to experience a full breath of freedom from oppression, stress and fear that anti-blackness and racism weighs upon us daily. I’m sorry that I do not have the capacity to answer the question “Are you alright?” one more time. And because you are asking, you are obviously aware that we are not. It has lead me to ask the same question of the White community; Are you OK? And how have you been alright with what you've seen happen historically as well as current events?
Since we all know the answer, that leads to the next question, how do we get OK? There is not a master to do list, or one targeted tool or approach, but there are many. I protest by educating and advocating for young people. I use my pain and eloquent rage to grow meaningful connections and relationships, build programs, events and tools. Unfortunately we have not yet hit bottom or arrived at the root. Because of the painful silence in the white community, there is a tsunami of unattended trauma that we have not yet exposed from our youth.
My colleague and friend has allowed me to share her inspirational and enlightening piece that will help you understand the deep and rich work we have ahead. I can’t wait to see what White pain and rage will bring forth and build or be inspired to build, when they put their minds, mouth and hearts into action for Black and Brown humanity!
WE ARE ALL ROOTED IN RACISM
By Kimberly Leatherman
The systems of our country are rooted in intentional racism.
While these systems nourished and supported the blooming growth of the white culture in America, it was toxic for those with brown or black skin.
In the shade of the blooms, People of Color could only grow to a stunted level, carefully managed and controlled by systems down in the roots which have become less and less visible and often forgotten.
As we begin to grow in these established systems, the life we are raised in IS our "normal". Children are "raised" to grow UP, focusing their attention toward their bright futures. Eyes diverted from the truth of our roots. Fertilized by a skewed version of history that continues to support and nourish white culture.
The Civil Rights movement shed some light on the true situation. When that top layer of soil from our foundation was removed and some roots of truth exposed, some nutrients of equality were added to the soil. This gave us a false sense of the issue being eradicated, while the racially systemic roots continued to strengthen beneath the surface.
Our country is currently facing situations where People of Color, especially Black people are being unjustly plucked from this Earth. We cannot settle with complacency when small changes occur.
We ALL must dig deep and disrupt the corrupt racially unjust systemic roots so that ALL may grow and flourish. If we are not actively dismantling systemic racism and practicing anti-racism, we are passively supporting it.