Sharing some thoughts from an old high school classmate. His name is Eric Curtis.
Another classmate pointed me to a few recent posts Eric made on social media in response to the recent protests over police murders of unarmed African-Americans, and against underlying racism that still persists in the United States. When I read Eric’s words, I thought two things immediately:
1/ I agree with him.
2/ I can’t put words together any better than he does on the subject of a white person’s evolving perspective on racism.
And so, here’s what he wrote:
“I get it.
I use to say that I wasn’t racist, because I did my best to not allow race to influence my thoughts about another person.
I became comfortable with the level of racism around me because it didn’t directly affect me or my family.
In my community, racism wasn’t particularly violent, although I was often aware that I was less likely to be harassed than people who look different than I do.
I had an unspoken agreement with racism – “If you don’t mess with me, I won’t mess with you.”
My sheltered life allowed me to pretend that racism was getting better throughout the country.
All it took was Trump’s campaign in 2016 to help the people who embrace racism to begin to feel more comfortable and their racism approved.
Somehow, these last 4 years, although agitated with renewed flourishing of racism throughout the country, I didn’t have the bandwidth
to turn toward a positive impact in relationship with racism.
The blatant public execution of an innocent man pushed me and apparently hundreds of thousands of others to the point of critical mass.
Although racism still has little direct affect on my life, I can no longer pretend to “not be racist”. I had to choose to be anti racist.
So I get it. Millions of people can say “I’m not racist.”, and be comfortable enough with that.
But to pretend that our country isn’t being overcome by racism, led by Trump’s empowerment lead active racists out of their dark holes,
is to choose to close one’s eyes to reality. That has always been an indirect support of racism.
I have been that passive racist.”
Me too. My old high school friend Eric speaks humbly and powerfully from our shared, white perspective. This perspective is valuable to a degree, since we white people have the power.
I’ve heard people of color (and otherwise) say now, “If you’re not anti-racist, then you’re part of the problem.”
I agree with that.
I’ve also heard it said that we white people need to amplify the expert voices of people of color that have suffered so long under racism.
I agree with that too.
Thank you, Eric, for sharing your perspective. Much respect and gratitude to you, my friend.
And stay tuned for more posts / insights from people of color, the true experts on how we can dismantle racism in these United States.
If you want to check out more of Eric’s writing, see his blog: