I am asking myself important questions and editing myself today.
Am I that White liberal so dangerous to the social justice movement required for equity?
I am digging deep to think about this and working on my willingness to take criticism from all corners. Just believing in equity while not standing for it, while not taking criticism for one’s representation is not enough. So, I am inviting discomfort in the process of learning.
Today, I was challenged by another White educator whom I respect and admire. And, going through the process of examining my representation, of recognizing her concerns and the intent of her advocacy, helped me acknowledge my need to edit, reflect, and keep what is core to my identity.
I should back up and explain what happened. I invited her through Instagram to a book club happening in my school district on Me and White Supremacy. I emailed her the plan for study and sharing, but she declined and then emailed me later in the week with concerns about my avatar, (she felt it was deceptive because she couldn’t tell that I am White) the name of this blog (she felt it offensive to a Black person reading it) and her concerns that White people should not be giving workshops on Black educator’s books. I knew she didn’t have the background about our district book study, which was not a workshop in any sense, but the emails continued back and forth between us as we struggled to understand one another, as we struggled to process our place in this work.
I thought about what she was reading in the representation of my social media and quickly changed my avatar to reflect my Whiteness. She was right and I need to fully disclose my White identity.
I then thought about the title of this blog which has gone from “reflecting on recreation” (re-creation as in creating my life over) to “thinking in a White room” and the reason that I changed it was specifically to acknowledge my White privilege. She contacted me again by email pointing out that my tagline was not evident. I had just recently changed the style of my blog and the tagline had disappeared so I changed it back to what it once was, thankful that she pointed this out, but I still felt discomfort.
I went for a run feeling a sense of uneasiness and resumed my current audiobook, Me and White Supremacy written and narrated by Layla F. Saad. I listened to “day 4: YOU AND WHITE SILENCE”.
“What is White silence? White silence is exactly what it sounds like. It is when people with white privilege stay complicitly silent when it comes to issues of race and white supremacy…White silence is also a defending of the status quo of white supremacy – a manifestation of holding on to white privilege…on the surface, white silence seems benign.”
Saad goes on to point out that “white silence is violence. It actively protects the system.”
I have spent the past four weeks listening intently to the words of Kike Ojo-Thompson and working to internalize her ideas – “disrupt, dismantle, and shift” in favour of racialized students and away from the privileged. Just as I needed to claim my identity in my avatar, my representation to the world, I am claiming my identity on my blog. I can never escape thinking from a White body and this blog is an acknowledgement of this – I am a work in progress and I make mistakes. But silence is worse.
I am also thankful that this educator who has nearly 48 thousand followers emailed me privately with her concerns rather than publically taking me to task on social media. I am working on “holding myself in healthy distrust” realizing my learning is never done and inviting the discomfort.