SOL: March 1st 2020

Whew, this came up quickly!

This is the year where so much is possible – it’s exhilarating and frightening at the same time. This morning I’m reading Dr. Ibram X Kendi’s How To Be Antiracist and it’s a lot. I mean he’s challenging my thinking on almost every page. And if I’m honest, I’m not sure I always want to be challenged. I want to be coached, affirmed and gently led, yes – but he’s not here for that.

Actually, I suppose he is being rather gentle as he breaks up all my ideas of what I thought I knew about racism, what it is and how it works. He’s breaking it all down into understandable morsels that I can work with while also weaving in examples from history and his personal journey to antiracist thinking and action.

SO here’s what rocked the boat this morning: The powerless defense. This is the belief that Black people can’t be racist because they don’t have power. We’ve heard that often and I’ve no doubt repeated it at various junctures. But he says that’s not true. WHAT?

He writes: “Black people can be racist because Black people do have power, even if limited…Ironically, the only way that White power can gain full control is by convincing us that White people already have all the power.” (p. 142)

He then goes on to list a host of examples of Black folks with power who then applied it to enact, uphold or even further racist policies that specifically discriminated against Black folks. It’s rather stunning.

The whole chapter is kinda rocking my world, mostly in a good way. But it does remind me of how much work I have to do on myself, even as I try to ‘change the world and become a better antiracist.

11 thoughts on “SOL: March 1st 2020

  1. This line caught me: “I want to be coached, affirmed and gently led …” I wager a guess that’s what most of us want when we are grappling with trying to change. But it’s the cognitive dissonance, the discomfort, that leads to growth. That’s how we reach new plateaus of understanding … the way you describe the author’s impact illustrates, to me, the ultimate writing challenge: putting the information out there and not telling others what to think, but just to THINK. Cognitive shifts come from within. I admire your courage in sharing so honestly how this book is rocking your world! I can feel the power of it.

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  2. That book is on my list, Sherri (actually, it’s on our shared book reading list for our writing project leadership team) … speaking generally, what I love, and what your post reminds me of, is when a good book does rock our world, giving us something deeper to consider (even, if, as you note, sometimes we just want to be guided/coached/affirmed) and when a book changes our view of the world, that’s an amazing experience. It shows the power of writing, and of voice, and of ideas. Even with difficult topics, a book can transform us. Not every book. Not every time. That’s why finding those gems is so special.
    Peace,
    Kevin

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  3. The power of writing shapes our thinking and can change us. I think that choosing this post as your opening slice is a strong lead for the month. I am glad you are here.

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  4. We just added this book to our “list” for my teachery type book club…having read (on your recommendation!) White Fragility, followed by Bettina Love’s We Want to do More Than Survive. I heard that there is a YA version coming out soon, co-authored with Jason Reynolds, titled Stamped.

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  5. I was fortunate to hear him speak about his book! I am a white woman working on some hard thinking about race. My school community is tackling it as well. It is truly a painful process. You expressed so well the feeling of wanting to learn but – oh, so human- wanting to limit our discomfort. I hope you will continue to explore your own struggles in March (but not every post!). I will continue to read and examine myself…

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  6. I bought this book in November and it continually calls to me. After reading White Fragility, I knew there was more I could do to in terms of not being racist, but to actively become anti-racist. I am definitely moving that book to the top of my TBR pile, now if I could carve out some reading time with all of this writing!! Thanks for a great nudge and powerful slice.

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  7. I’m reading it right now too (and listening to the Jason Reynolds version of Stamped for my audiobook and then reading the section of Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning. It’s a very Kendi month around here!) So very good, and I so appreciate hearing the ways it’s landing with you and challenging you. I plan to write a slice about it at some point soon.

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  8. Like Elisabeth, I’m listening to Stamped (Jason Reynolds’ version – I checked the original out of the library, blanched at its size and put it on my summer reading list – whoa) and I’m nibbling away consistently at How to Be an AntiRacist. He gives me MUCH to think about and I like the pauses. I haven’t gotten to this chapter yet, but your writing makes me think I should push on.

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