Our ancestors left the problem of racism to us. My generation — and yours — has inherited a mess that was made centuries before we were born, and we are at great risk of passing it on to future generations.
Unless we do something differently.
An early step in solving any problem is to make sure you understand the problem. One small thing white people (like me) must do if we ever hope to even begin to address and resolve racism is to simply listen. Listen without judgment, with only the intention to understand.
Unless I am continually doing this, I cannot know what I don’t know.
White Privilege Remains a Blind Spot Until We Choose to See
I am betting that many of my white readers (those or all shades, really) feel the same as I do in wanting a society that is more kind, more just, and less violent. We want to understand, we want to listen, we want to ally in meaningful ways, we want to leave the world a better place than it was when we found it.
What has kept white people like me from understanding racism more readily? One big factor is the blind spot I, for one, have had around white privilege. I really didn’t even grasp its existence until I began listening, until I was open to hearing experiences different from my own.
Like so many of you, my desire to listen has intensified in recent weeks, months, years. I’d like to share a few Black perspectives that have made an impact on me.
A Short List of Black Voices Helping Me Understand White Privilege
- Media personality and former Denver Bronco Reggie Rivers has a super helpful article about privilege that barks up the right tree. (If you find it behind a paywall, try here.)
- I remember reading this, from Lori Lakin Hutcherson of GoodBlackNews.org, when it first came out a few years ago. I find #9 to be particularly eye-opening.
- Ibram X Kendi is interviewed by Gayle King (with an additional non-Black guest and non-Black host). At 3:39, Ibram X Kendi posits there are only two possible answers to questions about racial disparity. Which one do you think accounts for it?
- A 1-minute video clip of Little House on the Prairie ends with an important question. Via discussion on The Root.
Are you open to listening? What is helping you to better understand white privilege?
More Impactful Resources on the Issue of Race
- Want evidence that listening and understanding can lead to disarming? Watch this.
- Wonder if you’re privileged? Watch this.
- Chomping at the bit to do something now? Choose a few items on this list. Or this one.
- Want to be gutted? (I am.) Consider this.
- Want to be moved? Listen to this. Or this.
Lori Holden, mom of a teen son and a teen daughter, writes from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life. Catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.
Lori was honored as an Angel in Adoption® in 2018 by the Congressional Coalition of Adoption Institute.