It Wasn’t Your Job

It wasn’t your job to teach me about racism, yet you took the time to educate me.

It wasn’t your job to unpack micro-aggressions for me, yet you explained it all.

It wasn’t your job to open the blinds of my white-privileged life and show me that my neighbors do not live a life like mine, yet you tore them down and described every atrocity before my eyes.

I just finished So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo and I am changed.

These were the words I needed to hear. This was the voice I was looking for. These were the answers to the questions I didn’t know how to ask.

You told the truth I couldn’t see because I didn’t want to believe it.

You linked 400 years of history to actions and words today.

You showed me how I consistently make these confrontations or discussions about me and my comfort when it was always meant to be about people of color.

As someone who mistrusts much of what I see and hear as well as my ability to discern a good source from a bad one, I wanted to ask “where do I start?” I craved the chance to say “explain this to me.” I needed someone to point me in the right direction to start. But I had read and heard enough to know that I shouldn’t ask these things of people of color. So I didn’t. But I didn’t understand why I couldn’t ask. It seemed logical to me to reach out to a Black author for suggestions of other Black authors. I would have done the same when seeking a female author. It made sense to me to ‘go to the source’ with my questions to find out from the people in my own community why they were protesting and engage in conversation rather than sit alone and read the stale words of someone far away. Through my white, privileged lens asking a person of color to explain their life to me made perfect sense.

And then Ijeoma Oluo spoke and I am changed. Not because I have it all figured out or because I am suddenly free of all my racial missteps. There is no magic pill (or book) for racism. I am changed because I no longer believe that Affirmative Action is something that has outlived its purpose. I understand why it is still important and necessary in our striving for true equality and a level playing field and I will support every effort to uphold it. I am changed because I have made a choice to review the racial disparity statistics of my child’s school district and find out what concrete actions are being taken toward equality. I am changed because I can’t stand idly by while mothers have to send text messages when they get pulled over ‘just in case something happens;’ while fathers teach their children to live afraid because they have to; while students can’t focus on their classwork because they are always fighting against racial behaviors happening all around them. I am changed because I will not expect a person of color to explain, again, why my actions were wrong.

I needed the why to wrap my head around all that has been happening. Ijeoma Oluo gave that to me. In clear steps, she has revealed to me my biases, my misguided efforts, and those times I was just flat-out wrong.

White people: READ šŸ‘THIS šŸ‘BOOKšŸ‘!!

It will not comfort you – you don’t merit that.

It will not excuse you – you don’t deserve that.

This book offers up the kind of truth that floats into your soul, choking you on the realization of all you’ve refused to swallow. Be open to the pain and shame and transformation it offers to you.

To Ijeoma Oluo I say THANK YOU! šŸ™ I am one of those people who does not hear the message when it is shouted at me. Thank you for not shouting and for helping me understand why others are. Thank you for taking the time to explain what should have been evident to us all along. Thank you for sharing personal stories to help me better imagine a life I’ve never had to endure. Thank you for giving me a place to start.

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