This Brick may seem small. After all what is one brick out of a wall? What is one drop out of the entire ocean? Well, now imagine that entire wall, on your shoulders everyday, day after day. Even generation after generation and then we might begin to understand the accumulated affect of systemic racism.
Recently, I attended a great workshop called Courageous Conversations: Refocusing: On the Roots of Health Disparities & Inequities that was hosted by the Infant & Maternal Mortality Task Force of Colorado (you can email them at IMMTFC@gmail.com ). It was powerful, difficult and so important. Deep gratitude to these women for their work, time and energy. During the workshop, the facilitators took us through an activity to demonstrate the accumulated extra load that People of Color have to shoulder everyday just by walking out the door. A white woman and a Black woman stood in the center of the room and we all named examples of the disparities that can and could affect each woman, simply by virtue of their appearance. For every example, each woman was handed a brick. At the end, the white woman had zero bricks, while the Black woman was literally nearly buried in them.
Upon returning home and meditating on what I had witnessed and heard, these words came to me. I share them here for the white Folks, please read them, think on them hard. Then start with the resources I have provided below, they will help get you started. Be prepared, learning about these issues is difficult and can feel frightening. It is our job as white folks to be open to these lessons, to not take everything personally and to put in the effort to begin to dismantle systems of oppression.
It weighs two pounds. I can choose to carry it.
I can leave it at home or pack it away on a shelf.
I can ignore it and go on with my day.
It weighs two pounds x 200. She is forced to carry them.
Never can she pack them away, displayed on a shelf.
These bricks will not be ignored.
For her it is a burden;
the impact of a thousand small cuts. Every day, every generation one after the other, after the other.
For me it is a reminder;
To show up, to stand up, to speak out.
To get out of the way and to pick up the bricks when I can.
Explaining Whit Privilege to a Broke White Person
Deconstructing White Privilege with Dr. Robin DiAngelo
Powerful article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson
Are you confused or curious about the concept of microaggression? Here is a great video.
Learn about the groundbreaking work of Loretta Ross in her book Reproductive Justice.
To learn more about Reproductive Justice please visit the website Trust Black Women.
Showing Up For Racial Justice is a national organization with many locally based groups to get involved in. The ACLU also has some good information here on their website.
If this process is difficult for you, you can read this article to start to understand why. And here are some simple FIRST steps to take.