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The written word is one of my favorite things. My mom was a middle school reading teacher and so growing up, books were a constant. Long story short…I love to read.
I will start by saying that Samantha Young is one of my favorite contemporary authors. She knows how to tell a story.
We meet Comet Caldwell, a painfully shy teenager in a high school in Edinburgh. She hates her name, and when I read that, I had the thoughts of the time that I too hated my name. I personally wanted to be named Jem…but my mom was having none of it.
Anyway…back to the book. The year starts out like any other in school and Comet is just trying to get by.
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She survives with her anonymous poetry blog, the only way that she is able to really let her thoughts free. And second, every moment I spend in all-white space I am being reinforced in a white worldview.
How do we teach our children that it is a loss? RD: This is a very common question I get from white parents, but notice how it turns the lens away from me and presumes that I am not the problem. We teach our children by believing it is a loss for us first.
My point here is that before I jump to my children, I need to transform myself. As I transform my worldview and commitments, it will come through for my children. We need to continually be doing our own work. RD: Of course it has become distorted, because those who benefit from our current structures have distorted it. Here is an example from my own life on how to center race. I grew up poor and white. While my class oppression has been relatively visible to me, my racial privilege has not. In my efforts to uncover how race has shaped my life, I have gained deeper insight by placing race in the center and asking how I have been socialized to collude with racism.
Rather than ameliorating my race privilege, my oppressed class location was a primary avenue through which I came to understand what being white meant; we were at the bottom, but I always knew that at least I was white and that it was better to be white.
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Thinking about it like that keeps me humble and accountable, and reminds me that it is an ongoing process. I care to know how its going for them. I listen, I believe, and I speak up. In my experience, most white people believe that niceness is all that is required. We smile at people of color, we are friendly, we go to lunch on occasion. Therefore, we are good to go. But while niceness is better than meanness, it is functionally fairly useless in terms of strategic action. In other words, niceness is not courageous.
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Niceness is status quo and status quo is racism. Further, what we think is nice may not land that way on people of color. And much of the undermining and hostility they experience happens behind the smile. As for what is hardest about trying to be less oppressive, it is how seductive the forces of complicity are. How comfortable it is not to break with white solidarity. And how ill-equipped I am to determine how well I am doing, given my socialized investments in white supremacy. This is the arrogance, complacency, and apathy I refer to when I say white progressives can be the hardest; we are so sure we have already arrived.
And interrupting all of that within myself is hard and on-going. The best part is how fantastically transformative it is. How stimulating and liberating. The personal, psychological, intellectual, and emotional growth!
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The alignment of what I profess to value with the actual practice of my life. The freedom from shame and guilt I feel when I take responsibility to act and repair, and the cross-racial trust repair builds. How this work has pushed me past my conflict avoidance, how brave I have become!
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Building beautiful authentic relationships that I was denied growing up and for most of my adult life. Overcoming the lie that I was told in countless ways that relationships with people of color were not valuable to have. The expanded humanity! Sign in.
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Get started. Courtney Martin Follow. One Minnesota school district has taught race for several years. Thanks to Abigail Higgins. Some rights reserved. Fresh storytelling about health, education, and social impact. See responses Discover Medium. Make Medium yours. Become a member.