An Oppressive Society Depends on our Shame
My fellow white friends, maybe you are shutting down because you are hearing messages like your hashtags and your posts and your book clubs are not enough.
So you stopped.
And you know what? That’s what an oppressive system counts on—that you will feel shame and that you will stop.
But here’s the deal:
Our posts and our book of the month and anything else that you or I do, individually, ISN’T enough.
You know why?
Because no ONE action and no ONE person is going to be enough, right now. We’re talking about hundreds of years (thousands, really) of systemic oppression.
The only way we’re going to shift this is if we do it collectively and consistently: hashtags, book clubs, films—sure, to START, but also internal excavation of racist beliefs, conversations, community action, reallocation of resources, policy change, representation in positions of power and much, much more.
In other words, genuine and sustained actions from millions of people who are willing to uncomfortably do the work, for years to come—-DESPITE shame and all the other hard feelings.
Any new habit or skill takes time and repetition. So we must keep practicing.
But understand this: our Black friends and community are traumatized and exhausted. After centuries of harm done, white people collectively waking up, finally acknowledging harm and taking real action is going to, understandably, feel like a slap in the face. Especially when so many of the current changes feel performative.
I know it’s uncomfortable and easier to shut down from making mistakes, or being told the equivalent of “it’s not enough ” and “we’re late to the party.”
We ARE late to the “awakening party”—even if a bunch of us were quietly mingling in the back for a while. Collectively, we are late to the party. And there’s no participation prize for showing up. The impact of our collective efforts will be the prize.
But, either way, we’re here now. Let’s set our shame down and stay awhile. I brought snacks.