It is time for me/us to stop thinking and start acting.
I walked away with a changed perspective that afternoon. I want and need to fight the systemic racism, white supremacy, and the misdirected systems of power in our schools. I am ready to read, research, and reflect, and act.
I recognized my guilt, I owned it, and I am prepared to do the work to move past it. This is NOT about me or MY feelings, except for the fact that I am enraged. (Thank you to Bryan Safi and Erin Gibson of the incredible podcast "Throwing Shade" for helping me articulate this sentiment.) It is time for me to stop thinking and start acting. It is time for US to stop thinking and start acting.
I refined this post yesterday morning as I watched the extraordinary CNN/Sesame Street town hall. I am paraphrasing Dr. Jennifer Harvey here, but one of my take-aways was this: the dangerous part of white privilege is thinking we can just sit this one out. Additionally, I learned that the notion of being colorblind means that you are ignoring who people are, inside and out. Everyone has their own experience and emotion surrounding the events of recent weeks, but my experience and emotions will never allow me to know what it feels to be a BIPOC in the US today. I acknowledge that, I recognize my white privilege, and now I must delve into learning more and helping this country change and advance.
The dangerous part of white privilege is thinking we can just sit this one out.
Pictures from the Black Lives Matter protest, Pittsfield, MA, 31 May 2020
I have a long way to go on this journey but I am proud to get up and start running, and I will never shy away from that. I know I am late to the game, but I have ordered White Fragility and How to be an Antiracist, which I will be reading and discussing with friends and colleagues when they are no longer on backorder. (If you do not own them yet, consider ordering them from these black owned bookstores). I donated to the GoFundMe to help save The Frugal Bookstore in Massachusetts. I just learned about We Buy Black and will explore it in depth. I set a monthly donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center. I pledge to continue to educate myself and move forward. This is an incredible list of action steps for white people to work towards racial justice. On Monday, I will contact my legislators (by phone, NOT by email) to tell them to advocate for criminal justice reform, civilian oversight of police, and the allocation of taxpayer funds towards community services. And finally, I will continue to VOTE.
My discomfort is moving my thinking forward.
Allison Litten, the 2019 VFLA TOY, teaches French at the Marion Cross School, a public K-6 school in Norwich, Vermont. This is her twentieth year teaching, and seventeenth at Marion Cross.