Racism
One Vaxxed Nurse on Racial Equality

One Vaxxed Nurse on Racial Equality

A repost from my personal writings re: racial equality, in honor of MLK Day.

When I was growing up I didn’t know that racism sounded like this:

“I’m not racist but……

  • I want you to date people with the same ‘cultural values’.”

“I’m not racist but……

  • I want my grandchildren to look like me”

“I’m not racist but……

  • Blacks kill blacks more often than whites kill blacks”

“I’m not racist but……

  • Minorities shouldn’t take college scholarships away from hard working white kids, just because they’re a minority student”

“I’m not racist but……

  • If you have children with a black man, your kids might have certain diseases like sickle cell”

“I’m not racist but……

  • I would not be happy if you married a black man, because I think life would be difficult for you and your children.”

I’ve hesitated to post anything about the subject of racism because honestly, I don’t feel particularly worthy of what needs to be said and finding the right words is something I rarely struggle with but in this case….it feels like it will inevitably come out wrong. But as I often do- I’m throwing caution to the wind and whatever comes out wrong, so be it.

These were all phrases I heard growing up, these and more. These are the types of statements that felt normal. They didn’t feel bad because they were qualified with, “I’m not racist, but…”.
Obviously they didn’t all happen at the same time or in the same conversation but over the years these were the things I heard. So I dated only white young men. I thought affirmative action was unfair until I grew up and understood it’s purpose. I gave the benefit of the doubt to people who may not have deserved it without even questioning it. Then, I had life experiences of my own that challenged that programming.

Let me be clear now (however late to the game I am) : these statements are racist. I don’t care what the beginning of the sentence says, these are racist statements and if none of your white friends have told you that, then listen because I’m telling you now. This shit is racist.

I didn’t realize this until adulthood. Maybe it looks obvious now sitting here in black and white ink but to a kid who wants to believe the best about the people who said them, it wasn’t easy to spot and it influenced me growing up. Once I grew up and started thinking for myself and having experiences bigger than my small, mostly white town, I decided that I didn’t agree with any of it. I chose to raise my kids completely different. That’s a good start, but I didn’t take it any further. I thought it was enough to turn my own back on it and raise the next generation away from that cycle of covert racism, but that isn’t enough.

If we learn one thing from these protests it should be that we need to take this further. It’s that, we haven’t gone far enough. The black community is crying out for help and I want to be better for this world. I’m not afraid of people of color judging me for my honesty about this subject, I have reached out privately to black friends and asked them how I can be better and they’ve met me where I’m at, in all of my glorious ignorance, with love. White people cannot be afraid to put our hands up along side our black friends-they are ready to welcome those of us that want to be part of the solution. They’ve been ready…. we’ve ignored them, pretending that what we’ve done is enough.

So this is me, in front of my white friends, with my hand up- I still don’t know what to chant. I still don’t know how best to use my words and actions to help, but this post is a start. Calling out the racism for what it is. Refusing to be quiet even if it comes out all wrong. I’m here to be better because Black Lives Matter – and if this post offended you, if those words make you cringe, then you need to ask yourself why. Did it remind you of something you once said? Do you take offense because you’ve thought some of those things to yourself at home alone? That should make you feel uncomfortable. I’m not sorry. I’m not going to make it comfortable for you anymore because comfort has never brought change- and we desperately need change.

In the hospital we learn that sometimes when a wound is really infected, you’ve got to rip that thing wide open and clean it out for it to heal properly. Once you expose the wound and clean it, it can fill in with healthy flesh. Sometimes it leaves an ugly scar, but at least it’s healed. If you let an infected wound brew covered up it can make the whole body sick and maybe even kill you. Sometimes that wound appears scabbed over and healed from the outside, but underneath that scab is a festering abscess that will do more harm. That’s what we’ve done with racism in this country, we’ve hidden it because we know it’s ugly instead of healing it. It’s killing us. We need to rip it wide open now.

I’m sorry you had to get this loud to have my attention. You have it now. Tell me how to be better. I’m here to learn and I’m here to help the healing- no matter how painful it is to shed that scab that kept it hidden. No more excuses. No more denial. No more hate. I’m not afraid of the pain. Let it hurt. Let it break me down. Let my open wounds fill in with healthy flesh. I refuse to ignore it until it kills us all slowly. I’m relearning this nation’s history from the perspectives of my black friends by reading books they’ve asked me to read. I’m talking to my kids about the mistakes of my ancestors and the experiences of black Americans in their own words. I’m through calling it a tragic accident, I’m calling it murder when it’s clearly murder. I’m observing a moment of silence when someone takes a knee at a football game. I’m committed to doing more. Keep telling me how I can do more. Keep standing on my freeway until I get it if that’s what it takes. Make me stop my day. Inconvenience me. Make it so that I can’t look away. Make it so that even if I fail, my children cannot look away. Take my breath away, god only knows, we’ve taken yours. #icantbreathe

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