Joining Twitter is both an interesting and horrifying experience. There’s a lot of extremely intelligent and capable people talking about important issues. There’s also a lot of…let’s call it noise.
One thing that I find particularly interesting and horrifying are all of the discussions about race in America.
I’ve been seeing repeated instances of a person of color sharing their perspective, only to be told by many people in the comments, primarily white people, that they’re wrong and their perspective is invalid. They’re being told they’re overreacting. “He didn’t mean it like that.” “Stop being so sensitive.” “Stop bringing race into everything.”
About four years ago, I volunteered to work on a project developing and delivering diversity training at my worksite. As a part of the process, I was sent to an outside training, called Undoing Racism. The training was by an organization called The People’s Institute of Survival and Beyond. And it changed my life.
I won’t go into details, because if you ever have the opportunity to take this training, you should. But I will say that there was a moment, at the end of the first day, where the trainers said something that challenged me deeply. As someone who prided myself on how much I cared about inequities, it was really hard to hear. It confronted my identity as a white woman, and my role in being a part of a society where oppression was a reality.
As we did our final thoughts of the first day, I shared that I would have to think about it some more. That’s all I could say in the moment, because I certainly didn’t feel ready to accept it.
So I went home. And I thought about it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And by partway through the second day, I realized they were right. It was a painful realization. But it was a necessary one.
But the key thing was that in acknowledging that they were right, I was also acknowledging that in the end, it wasn’t about me. I’m not the center. It’s not about me feeling like I need to be seen as a good person. It’s not about me feeling hurt if I get called out for doing something that feeds into bias or oppression. It’s not about me.
So often when we hear something that pains us, our reaction is to push it away. But we have to consider who we’re pushing against. What are we trying to prove?
What would happen if we took the time to think about it? What if we embraced the challenge? Maybe in the end we still wouldn’t agree.
Maybe we would.
When’s a time in your life when you were challenged by something that you were told? What happened? Has anything ever shaken your beliefs? What was the result?