Navigating relationships as a BIPOC can be tricky everywhere (friendships, public spaces, work, and family). That we will encounter some form of racism on multiple occasions (even daily) is expected, but how we choose to respond or not wears on our minds, bodies, and souls. If you are a member of a marginalized group, you probably experience this as well. I’m sharing this piece By Melia Smith and a few excerpts to help folks understand.
“Every day, BIPOC folx are navigating situations in the workplace where the fragility of white people is weaponized against them. And as a result of our workplace cultures being built through the systems that promote this fragility, the outcomes of these situations favor the perpetrators of the violence.”
“That experience is a real life example of how dangerous it is for BIPOCs to be on the receiving end of white people’s misguided belief in the extent of their personal accountability for racism. (They were not there in the time of slavery, their parents raised them right, they don’t see color, they are not biased, but I’m not a racist, forever and ever amen.)
All of this, however, is a demonstration of how accountable they actually are — their unwillingness to see racial oppression and then openly acting like not seeing it makes them innocent is proof of their racism in itself.”
I share this knowing that there are things I have been unwilling to see and I need to be accountable for those things. For me, being accountable is to be willing to see and hear things that are difficult for me. When I harm others and it is pointed out to me, it is a gift I hope to receive with appreciation. I try not to center myself, my guilt or shame when I have made mistakes. Instead, I strive to apologize, correct, and continue to learn. I am grateful to those who inform me when I make mistakes and I am aware of the contradictions that lie within me. I am a work in progress.
This is coming up for me around meat and dairy. I’m working on this issue. I hope to make more informed choices about my relationship with the animals I consume (though I don’t consume much). It may seem strange to mention this in relation to racism, but it is connected. I need to be okay with the treatment of the animals I consume. We need to be comfortable with the treatment of our fellow humans. There is more that I can examine about the relationship between racial/social and environmental justice. While I am asking myself about how the animals I consume are treated, I am always thinking about how people are treated.
When I read or listen to a story about marginalized people, I ask myself: am I comfortable with how people with disabilities, people who are immigrants, LGBTQ+, imprisoned or institutionalized, children, women/femmes, and other BIPOC are being treated?
When I realize I am a part of the problem, do I react with fragility or accountability?