Like many other white people, George Floyd’s murder opened doors of perception for me. I now see new layers of my power, privilege and complicity. I am not new to thinking about these issues. But In the last six weeks, I am seeing so much of myself for the very first time, even in places I thought I knew myself well.
I have been stunned and compelled by my deeper recognition of the invisibility of white power to white people, including myself. I am recognizing the depth of my white privilege and how it is invisible to me. I take it for granted so thoroughly that I can’t see it. Since it is everywhere, it’s nowhere. Anna Chitty likes to say that nothing is something. There’s something there but we’ve normalized it. As a result, we can’t see it.
Nothing about this is new. Not the systemic nature of white power. Or its invisibility to the people who wield it. Not the brutality of the police. Not the way George Floyd was killed. Not the fact that he and so many black, brown and indigenous people are murdered year after year.
I am in the process of figuring out how to see and keep seeing what has been invisible. I want to share the advantages granted to me by my skin color and my lineage so that others can benefit. I want to be an advocate for justice and greater equality and diversity. My roots of established inclusion are over fifty years deep, rooted in the soil of comfort that my skin color and its attendant privileges provide. My fear and avoidance is older than me, stretching back generations, and into the present day. Courage is the ability to transform fear into action. Now is the time to be courageous, because as Ray Castellino, a long-time mentor of mine said to me years ago, “If you’re waiting to get comfortable, don’t do it. Because it’s not comfortable.” None of us are comfortable now. COVID has stripped us of that. It is teaching us that we are dependent on each other. Racism has always been dependent on white people being comfortable with it. Let’s use our discomfort to dismantle our habits of separation and superiority, one thought and action at a time.