It is soooo hard to admit I am part of the problem. I much rather prefer to think of myself as part of the solution. In most aspects, and like most people, I am both. I am traditionally educated yet open minded. I am intelligent, articulate, reasonable and hard working. I am empathetic and compassionate. I am spiritually and morally grounded. Yet none of that negates the fact that I am white.
I am arrogant enough that I think I actually know something. How can I know anything about the sting of discrimination, the horrors of abuse, the injustice of racism? Without firsthand experience, my understanding is inherently limited. My knowledge is based on what I see or hear not what I know or feel. My perceptions are even more flawed when you consider my self-constricted sources. I live, work and play in a world of predominantly like-minded and like skinned others. Diversity of any sort is not a strong characteristic of my world.
I am selfish enough to be complacent. My family’s economic stability is more important than your social justice. I’ll write, I’ll march, I’ll stand with you; as long as it doesn’t cost me anything. I’ll like and share on Facebook all day long but don’t ask me to show up in real time. Sorry, I’m just too busy scratching out a living under the illusion of the American dream. I need my job and my healthcare. I can’t be caught making political statements.
I am ignorant enough to think my impact is negligible. So what if my friend tells me an off color joke in the lunchroom. It’s one joke among friends. Who does it hurt? No one but me even heard it. And confronting my friend? No, not me. We’ve been friends a long time. What would be the point? I mean, it’s one little joke. So what if I get her to think before she tells that joke again? I lose a friend over that? And for what? Nothing I do would ever make a difference. I’m just one person. I’m not a racist.
I am an average white American. I am the problem.
I am also the solution.
In acknowledging my arrogance, my selfishness and my ignorance I begin to develop a more informed understanding, a more compassionate attitude and more responsible behavior. I accept my accountability to the human race. In embracing the need for discomfort as an essential catalyst to transformation, in sacrificing my complacency with the status quo, I set the example and perhaps bring my like-minded community along. Only then will real and lasting change be realized.
And so I use my gifts; my mind, my voice and my conviction. And I tell stories; stories of pain and comfort, struggle and triumph, folly and wisdom, fear and hope. Stories are the great equalizer. All peoples, all cultures, all ages have used stories. They can however be a double edged sword. Words can be powerful, for good or evil. I use stories to entertain, uplift, and connect people to each other and the world we share, promoting understanding, inclusion, and tolerance through socially aware and responsible engagement in our global community. Thank you for trusting me to use them well.