I have been sitting quietly at home during this pandemic, taking the time I needed to dive in and face some of the overwhelming emotions that I buried deep down in my soul in the past decade.
While trying to process all of what is going on in the world right now, I came across these two questions (and as a white woman, they hit home pretty hard):
“Why haven’t I spoken up about racism until now or a year ago or four years ago?”
“What has kept you silent for so long about the systemic racism that has plagued our country for hundreds of years?”
The truth is that for years I have been complicit when it comes to institutionalized, systemic racism.
I was in love with someone who was racist.
This person, when in public, acted properly and never said the wrong thing. But at home, within closed doors, he always revealed his true nature.
And I stayed.
And I let him speak.
I nodded at him.
Also if I disagreed with him, I nodded at him, and then, with empathy and compassion, I tried to reason with him, to make him “understand,” to point out at the reality of the country we live in—the world we live in.
I justified his behavior and his words because I loved him.
Then one day, I lost it.
I stood up against one of his friends after hearing a racist comment.
I asked him to stop.
I became emotional, and I raised my voice because I was livid.
I remember shaking and trembling.
I remember that anger taking over my entire body.
And it was not only against their statement, it was against myself.
That day, I was told to leave the house and don’t disrespect other’s people opinion.
Other people’s opinions.
As if being racist was just “an opinion.”
That day is the day I decided to leave.
And I did.
But it was too late.
I was already complicit.
I was part of the problem because if I did not believe in the racists, misogynistic, and homophobic statements that were made in front of me, it took me years to stand up against it.
That’s why, most of the time, I can’t find the words.
That’s why I haven’t spoken up until now.
It’s because I know my silence was part of the problem
It’s because I know I am privileged.
It’s because I am ashamed of my silence.
In the years I spent advocating against domestic violence, I always stated that silence is violence and, without even realizing it, I was doing what I was preaching against.
I was bringing violence into this world.
Taking responsibility is the first step.
How can we stand against racism without acknowledging our part in it?
That’s why it does not matter how much I try, I still can’t find the words I am looking for.
I was part of the problem.
And I will always be ashamed of it, but now we all have the opportunity to listen and to really take actions to make a change.
To try to change not only the world, but our attitude as white, privileged individuals.
The world needs us all to take responsibility now.
And I hope we will.