I’m on vacation right now, well, more of a work-ation actually....part work, part pleasure. But then my work is a pleasure!
I attended an amazing business retreat in Asheville, NC and am now following it up with some rest and relaxation in the Charleston area.
Racism is on my mind a lot lately and particularly today with all the controversy around “taking a knee” in peaceful protest. It’s interesting to be here in a more racially diverse environment (than North Bend, WA!) as this unfolds.
The first time I actually grasped that racism was alive in well in our contemporary world, was in 1986. I was a freshman in college sitting in my geography class in Provo, Utah. I can’t recall how we got on the topic, but one of the students in my class (it was a big class) was from Missouri and she said that there were still restaurants and shops in her town that would not serve black people.
I sat in disbelief. I thought that the Civil Rights Movement and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had ended such blatant racism.
Because I didn’t see it, I assumed (making an ass out of you and me!) that racism did not exist. I knew some individuals were racist, of course, but I didn’t know that institutional racism was still flourishing in my very own country.
Growing up in the Seattle suburbs, I was surrounded by middle class white people. With so little diversity (especially in the 1970's and 1980's), I was not exposed to racism. That moment in Utah was eye opening, but I still was not a witness to racism in action. I understood on some level that it existed, but I still wasn’t seeing it.
Now racism is front and center—it can’t be ignored and it can’t be unseen. Racism is ugly and comes from a place of fear and deep insecurity, but the fact that it has been brought out of hiding and thrown in our faces…well, I think that’s ultimately a good thing.
We can’t fight an enemy we cannot see.
When the ugliness is out in the open, we can no longer deny it. We can’t be blissfully ignorant when it’s in our face.
And when it’s in our face, it’s easier to take a stand. People who were on the sidelines before are now invited into the playing field.
It’s not enough to take a stand against racism by passively not being racist; we need to actively participate in righting wrongs and making real deep-seated change.
Have recent events woken you up and shaken you out of the trance that everything is okay?
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