My name is Miranda.
I’m a mama, teacher, Christian, and a racist.
I didn’t think I was a racist before this week, which honestly, really solidifies the fact that I am one.
How can I not be?
I’m a privileged, white American who grew up in white-majority communities in the United States of America. In fact, my biases and prejudices are so ingrained, I don’t even see them. It took a video (I couldn’t even watch) of a man being stepped on and killed to WAKE ME UP. But it also took protest, and unrest, and my six-year-old daughter talking about making Black Lives Matter posters for our garage door, and one of my few Black friends posting thought-provoking pieces to finally get me moving.
But why now? Why didn’t I do something sooner?
Prior to this week, I have had less than 10 people on my social media feeds who are Black. I attributed that to not knowing many Black Americans and living in towns where the Black population was 1 to 3 percent. But whose fault is that anyway? And why do my communities have so few Black citizens living there?
Aside from my annual homage to Black Americans on MLK Day, I have never posted, nor seriously read anything in the last 20 years, about the racism that is still happening. I knew it was to some extent. It just wasn’t happening to me, so …
I can’t believe this now, but I have not once sought out voices of color online, even though I’ve been on social media for 10 years, and these voices are ONE CLICK away from me. How hard is it to LIKE a page? Evidently, I got out of college and thought I was done with learning about social injustice.
And before yesterday afternoon, it never occurred to me that in addition to giving money to my (white) church, or to local (mostly white) non-profits, I could give it to the Equal Justice Initiative or the NAACP. Imagine that. Never once thinking about donating to a long-established, prominent organization that promotes the advancement of people of color.
Apparently, I thought I was good with teaching the book “To Kill a Mockingbird” and loving the novel, “When Things Fall Apart,” and I checked off the fact that I had read Maya Angelou and Zora Neale Hurston, and taught students why we don’t use “the N word,” and told my own children that everyone is equal … even though we only own one children’s book with a Black character in it.
Yep. I used to think “All Lives Matters” and “Not all cops are bad, ya know!” whenever I heard the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” — instead of just affirming the fact that, YES, Black lives DO matter. Apparently there’s a term for this: White Fragility. Something else I JUST LEARNED THIS WEEK.
And in years past, whenever anyone brought up race relations, I often countered with, “What about reverse discrimination? What about Women’s Rights? What about …?”
I deflected. I questioned. I never just listened. I see now that I don’t think I fully accepted what I was hearing. And I think that’s it in a nutshell: It’s always, pretty much, been all about … ME.
I did have the opportunity to spend my teens and early 20s in a Hispanic-majority community; however, as my Black friends have so eloquently explained over the last two weeks, if you are white, then you will never truly know what it means to be any other color. Touche.
Prior to this week, I have proclaimed to be a Christian, yet until three days ago, I had never once in my almost 46 years been in a protest or a march against the racism that HAS BEEN and IS wreaking havoc on our country. WHY IS THIS? I guess I thought protests and marches and petitions were for … Martin Luther King Jr., … or for the 1960s … or for left-wing radicals, or … they … just weren’t for me.
But I can tell you this: If the millions of people across this country, across our WORLD, weren’t protesting in the streets, risking their lives during a flipping PANDEMIC to stand up for what they believe is right, I probably wouldn’t have been so affected by the events of the last two weeks.
And I had thought protests just weren’t for me.
Get this: I didn’t know about the Tulsa race riots until seven days ago. I had to look up the Rosewood Riots yesterday. People: I have two Bachelor degrees and a Master’s Degree. How did this happen? How did I get this far? How is it I heard about Trayvon Martin, and I’ve read about HUNDREDS of needless deaths of Black Americans the last 30 years and still … I did.not.do.something. I said nothing publicly. I merely discussed it with my spouse in private and went about my business.
Here’s the bottom line: I want to be anti-racist. I NEED to be anti-racist. I want to be an ally to anyone who is treated less than because of their skin color, sexual preference, bank account amount, or … fill in the blank.
I simply cannot call myself a Christian anymore and not stand up to the injustice of others. And I am just SO SORRY that I haven’t read more, spoken more, listened more. Done MORE.
I hope you can forgive me. It only took 46 years.
But I’m finally listening, and learning, and reading, and thinking, and researching and repenting, and posting, and finally trying my hardest not to be so very …