Fighting Injustice and Hate:: My Part in the Anti-Racist Movement

My eyes have been opened to a part of humanity that I cannot ignore. I don’t know if it is just growing out of the twenties stage of self obsession, or if becoming a mother has made me more aware of the world that my child will have to walk in, or if current events have finally woken me up. It’s probably a combination of all of them. Regardless, I have reached a stage in my life where I am noticing more than ever things like injustice, hate, racism, inequality, and discrimination. It makes me sick to my stomach. It makes me angry. And it makes me want to do something. I want to be anti-racist.

Fighting Injustice and Hate:: My Part in the Anti-Racist Movement

As a cisgender heterosexual white woman, I’ve come to terms with my privilege. Let’s define what I mean by privilege. It’s basically when I get better treatment, the benefit of the doubt, or a leg up just because I fall within societal norms and racial preference. Here is a list of privileges I have experienced, in no particular order::

  • I can get warnings for traffic tickets {true story, a few months ago I got pulled over for speeding AND forgot my drivers license at home and still got just a warning}.
  • I can speak up about race and inequality without being called angry
  • I can easily find “nude” makeup, bras, shoes, and clothing that matches my skin tone.
  • No one follows me around in stores when I am shopping.
  • I can speak to other white people about race and they don’t get {as} uncomfortable.
  • No one cares or has commented on who I chose to marry.
  • I’ve never been visibly unwelcome in a church.
  • Most of the television shows or movies I see have characters in them that look like me and that I can relate to.
  • No one ever assumes I am a single mother.
  • My partner and I can be affectionate in public without worrying about comments or stares.
  • I can leave the house looking like a hot mess wearing basically pajamas and it is pretty much socially acceptable.
  • I have gotten an interview for almost every single job I have ever applied for.
  • No one ever tries to touch my hair.
  • I have never been made into a representative for my entire race or sexual orientation.
  • I get praised for doing things like standing up for others, and being anti-racist, which people of color have been doing for centuries.
  • What I learned in history class reflects the stories of people who look like me.

I have also come to terms with the fact that our society that is based on a long history of white supremacy has affected me. Similarly to how I find myself sometimes aligning with patriarchal norms as a feminist, I also find myself sometimes being racist/hetero-normative, even if I don’t mean to be. Even though I am committed to being anti-racist, here is a list of some of the things I have done::

  • Mixed up two common Latino names, and then said “they are basically the same” as a knee jerk response when the mix up was pointed out.
  • Assumed the race of someone based on their name.
  • Remained silent when someone said something discriminatory or hateful.
  • Felt a wave of unease when passing a man of color while out running.
  • Asked many intrusive questions of my friends who are gender fluid without considering if they really wanted to be my personal queer educator.
  • Assumed someone who looks Hispanic might speak Spanish.
  • Lumped a group of people of the same race into a stereotype category without seeing them as individuals. 
  • Laughed at a racist joke just to avoid the discomfort of calling someone out.

It is virtually impossible to be “free of racism”. It has been ingrained in our society for hundreds of years. I can’t unlearn it after just reading one book, or listening to a podcast, or going to a protest. Being anti-racist takes diligence, it takes work. 

I’ve had to recognize my own white fragility, and realize that the shame or sadness or helplessness that I feel when I see stories about children being mistreated, or death, or violence, are feelings that I have to deal with. I can stuff those feelings and pretend it isn’t happening. I can hide. Or I can be brave. I can speak up. I can use my privilege as a weapon to fight in the war of racism and inequality. Will I be perfectly ant-racist? No way. Will I still inadvertently make racist assumptions? Very likely. Will it be uncomfortable and scary at times? Absolutely. But most important things are. No one ever grew as a person or made change without making waves and getting outside their comfort zone.

“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.” -Ijeoma Oluo, author of So You Want to Talk About Race.

Being a part of the anti-racist movement is what I am committing to. To fight racism, sexism, discrimination, homophobia, and injustice wherever I find it, including in myself. For me, that is part of my job as a mom, to make the world for my child, and all children, just a little bit better.

Need more diversity posts? Check out Houston Moms’ Diversity in Motherhood:: We All Love the Same series!

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