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I HAVE COUNTLESS STORIES, AS DO MANY OTHERS.
My mission is simple...
To accelerate the world's transition to zero racism by helping everyone develop better-informed opinions by reducing as many barriers as possible.
Self-education shouldn't be this difficult.
My Name Is Brian and I Am A Racist…
"As protected as I can make my kids, they still see it..."
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Experience has taught me that racism does not, and will never, take a consistent form. PERIOD.
The first time I remember experiencing racism, I was 13. I vaguely remember the events leading up to being called a NIGGER by a kid 2 years older than me, however, I can VIVIDLY recall the feeling. My body became tense with zero hesitation, tears poured instantly and uncontrollably, and I felt so humiliated. I don't remember what I said while sobbing, but I do remember not understanding what I did to deserve being classified a racial slur.
He is White.
He is American.
The second time I remember experiencing racism, I was 21. It was Halloween and the girl I was dating at the time sent me a picture of herself donning BLACKFACE with a fresh manicure spelling "THUG LIFE" on each finger while wearing a black stocking cap to top it off. Against my parents wishes of instantly ex-communicating her, I attempted to give her benefit of the doubt, educate her, and show her why it's offensive. The relationship ended a week later. My heart shattered. "Why don't you want to understand?" "Why don't you believe me?" My mom's heart broke watching me slowly reassemble my logic and emotions. I cried so many times trying to make sense of it. Watching my mom struggle to help me through the experience destroyed me. Confusion doesn't begin to describe what I felt.
She is White.
She is American.
Since then, the frequency at which I recognize racism is sickening. This highly specialized skill is a byproduct of the varying degrees of hypervigilance I've been required to maintain as a Black man.
Most recently, a coworker approached me aggressively to voice her concerns about how I was doing my job. When I stated that I would not be spoken to in that manner her voice became focused and calculated when telling me that "...you really need to watch your body language" and "...you're REALLY intimidating". The feeling that flashes through any man of color familiar with this scenario is so far beyond nauseating because the unspoken intent and possible worst-case scenarios are unfortunately all too clear. I then stated that those tactics would not be used against me because she clearly had me confused with someone that she was about to easily intimidate. She made one last attempt by stating that "I'm feeling very scared". I ended the conversation and reported her to management. Zero corrective action was attempted, although I had witnesses. She cried and was allowed to go home. On the inside, I was livid. On the outside, I trembled for an hour out of fear.
She is White.
She is South African.
An informed viewpoint recognizes BETTER INFORMATION and ACCURATE EDUCATION.
So a little background, I grew up in 2 vastly different areas. I spent 12 years on a farm and then moved to the inner city of Indianapolis. I grew up knowing people of all colors and we were all just unique in our own ways.
I didn’t notice racism for a long time. I suppose I was ignorant to it.
I remember dating black guys and having people stare. My kids’ dad, when we first got together, would look out the windows of vehicles we were in afraid something would happen. Like someone was always profiling him. At the time, I was still pretty ignorant with the racism around me.
We moved back out to the country when I had my 1st child. It was then that I really noticed the looks I would get. When my kids’ dad and I were together and out with the kids we would get some evil stares. After my 2nd child, I remember waiting tables and having a family at one. Being a waitress, I would talk to people and in the process they asked my children’s names. John and Anthony. They replied that they were strong Arian names and I was taken aback. I had to leave the dining area and head to the back to be able to continue my job. The table had no clue, although as I was cleaning up, that their child had drawn a racist cartoon on the placemat. I couldn’t help, but cry. Their tip went straight to toys for my boys.
The looks haven’t stopped.
Without my kids’ dad, I get different looks though. From white people, it’s generally that I must have adopted my kids. The other side, if I visit a city, and I’m not shy about walking into stores filled with black people, I get looks wondering what I’m doing with my babies.
Sadly, my 2nd oldest has dealt with racism as well. He was told at school by another boy that he needed to stay out of the sun. I contacted the school and was assured it was dealt with and to make sure I told them if there were any more problems.
At this point, I also have a daughter. She started kindergarten this past school year. She deals with me doing her hair everyday before school. She came home upset telling me that her “friends” said her hair was messy. I spoke to her teacher, and she ended up using part of her class time to explain to kindergarteners that we are all unique and special.
As protected as I can make my kids they still see it.
Whether it’s comments while at school or something they hear in public. My biggest fears involve my oldest. He is special needs, diagnosed bipolar, oppositional defiant disorder, and intermittent explosive disorder. When he gets overwhelmed, he acts out sometimes in violent manners. It scares me so much knowing the world out there will just not understand, not to mention how people will look at him due to his skin. I pray everyday that people will start seeing the value in others!
- Sarah G.
They have brought mankind to the edge of destruction because they thought they were white…
- James Baldwin
I was raised to think I was white…
My Name Is Brian and I Am A Racist…
I have been raised in a racist nation by racists. This country was founded as a racist nation with the domination of people who were told they were black as a key economic advantage for white society. People were brought here and enslaved even before the country was founded. While enslaved workers gave their lives of labor, the settlers and founders of this country were expending massive efforts to clear millions of indigenous people in an attempt at genocide so that the enslaved people could work the land and build wealth for the slaveholders.
I have gone through a racist education system. I have worked in racist business organizations and have helped those organizations prosper. I attended racist churches as I was told. I saw the oppression and never commented on it or objected to it.
I served in Vietnam, and during the 5 years I spent from 1966-1971, that I came to realize that our government does not really believe in the values it claims. I came home absolutely stripped of the beliefs I was allegedly fighting to protect.
One of the most damning attitudes of our society is that race matters and that there is a hierarchy of races. We are taught that the white male is the most valuable and all the rest are less valuable. I was taught to deal with this horrible belief and practice by being silent.
Those of us who were taught that we are white, are taught that we are all fierce individuals and that if I was not being racist then racism was not my problem. Racism was only practiced by a few horrible individuals in our society anyway. For most people racism is not a problem. I am told we are post-racial now.
I was taught, and we all are taught, this idea, that as we are fierce individuals, we cannot work together with other citizens to make changes to create or dismantle government policies. This is a lie. We can join with others and use our individual energies together to create a society based on equity and justice.
I have come to realize that racism is systematic and institutionalized in our country. If there is a low-income neighborhood in your town or city and it is populated almost entirely by people of color (not considered white) then that could only happen through systematic policies at the local, state, and federal levels. It is easy to find historical data of institutional factors leading to the type of segregation and disparate outcomes like redlining and restrictive housing covenants, or white flight from city centers, or segregated and unequal schooling, or federal/local disinvestment. All non-white citizens would have the ability to vote but they do not.
If you look at the timeline of voting rights and their lack of availability you will see a pattern of not allowing anyone but white men to vote. There are many steps involved in allowing nonwhite men, then white women, then nonwhite women to be allowed to vote. There has never been any effort to prevent white men from voting, we have unrestricted access now. There are so many examples of how non-white people are injured and held down. This is all created by laws and enforced by law enforcement.
Racism is real and it hurts and even kills people of color 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All People of Color of the World Majority live in the fear that their body could be taken from them at any time and the person who kills them would probably not even be punished. Interrupting this horrible system is more important to me than my feelings, ego, or self-image.
Racism is a multilayered system embedded in our culture that covers all the interactions between people in our country. All of us are socialized into the system of racism. Racism is complex, and I do not have to understand every nuance of the feedback to validate that it is real.
After a serious study of racism in our country, over the last 6 years (late but not too late), I am now an anti-racist. Authentic antiracism is uncomfortable. Discomfort is key to my growth and thus desirable. The antidote to being guilty is to act. It takes courage to break with white solidarity and I do break with that solidarity and renounce it. I totally admit the history of people who think they are white (me) here in the U.S.
I have aided racism and white supremacy by my silence through the years. I have never openly endorsed the cruelty and life-crushing policies I can see all around me. But I have by remaining silent. I have heard men in gatherings use insulting language about people of color and let it go. I have gotten to the point that I now make it clear that kind of language and behavior is never acceptable in my house or in front of me. I have walked away from groups of white people who were getting into a racist rant, thinking I was not a part of it and so I could just walk away. I now make sure that before I leave, I explain why I am going. I was silent because I was invested through the white privilege it gave me. Being silent let me claim innocence while benefiting from the cruel attitudes and policies of racism. I can walk/drive while white and be safe. I can go into a store and not be followed around. I can get a bank loan at a good rate. I can live in any neighborhood I want. There is no glass ceiling for me at work. I am listened to as a white man. Et Cetera.
White people created and have sustained racism since before we became a country. I have supported that by my silence and actions, and I renounce that support now.
I know that because I was socialized as a person who was told I was white in a racism-based society, that I have a racist worldview, deep racial bias, racist patterns, and investment in the racist system that elevated me by virtue of my whiteness.
I disavow those beliefs now.
I am an antiracist. One day at a time.
I am going to live as an antiracist despite my defensiveness. I will demonstrate my vulnerability and humility and ask for growth. I will expand my worldview and practice the values that I profess to be good and true.
I do not expect perfection in my interactions, attitudes, and actions going forward, but I will learn and build on my internal understanding and values. I will apologize when I offend with racist words or actions. I will own my mistakes and ask for an opportunity to repair the damage I cause.
I will value feedback from people of color on my attitudes, actions, and words. I will recognize that it is dangerous for them to talk to me in an honest way. I will listen and ask to be held accountable.
This is the end of my white silence.
The real question is:
If you are white and have grown up in this racism-based society, which has existed for centuries, how could you not be racist?