Things I never told you because you never asked
My quietness is not silence.
It is taking stock
It is listening
It is wanting to know more.
It is wondering what blindness I still can not see?
It is wondering how we got here?
How I let it get here?
As a white woman I have the privilege of not knowing what racial inequality feels like.
To have the time to take stock.
To be quiet,
To choose whether I hear or not.
To not see.
I may be good at listening to an individual but I have failed to respond to the greater pain. The one I would rather override rather than admit to, like an embarrassment I don’t want to own up to, one that I don’t know how to address so I have turned away, one that I have known was there but thought I may be adding to it by pointing to it; not wanting to stumble, come across in the wrong way, not knowing how to not see what I see when I look into a black face, hoping my love will override everything.
Whilst listening to Robin DiAngelo present her book White Fragility some thing she said woke me up.
She said you can be married to a black person and still hold racism in you.
You can love a black person and still be racist?
The painful penny dropped.
Her concept of bad racists/good racists hit me.
Not all racists are bad!
A memory came back to me of trying to talk to a close friend of mine, when I was about 18, of this feeling I had in me in relationship to black people. I remember trying to articulate something that felt really uncomfortable.
I was trying to articulate a feeling of otherness that stopped me from taking the person I was with at face value,
like there was something between me and them,
like I positioned myself around them before I knew them,
like there was something between us that I couldn’t really understand and it kept me from them, either being too nice, trying too hard or fearing them,
but the strongest feeling about it was I didn’t understand where this silent barrier I couldn’t penetrate came from.
I remember really stumbling over my words and not really being able to say what I was feeling. My friend had a black stepmother and her brothers and sisters were mixed race and I remember envying her, thinking if I had black brothers and sisters I wouldn’t feel like this.
The conversation just made me feel bad and uncomfortable and I thought she thought I was a racist and so I never had the conversation again.
Till 40 years later!
And that is what I’m sorry for.
Looking back on this, I now realise that the 18 year old me was trying to explore the concept of being a good racist, and I now know that even if you have black brothers and sisters you may still feel like this.
And I now know that instead of worrying what other people thought, I should have explored that early awakening.
I should have asked those black people I love why do I feel like this and I’m sure they could have told me,
I should have taken a risk, to continue to ask the hard questions, discomfort or not and I may have woken up to the truth earlier.
Because I have a choice over my projection onto a black person but they do not have the choice of receiving it.
This is the painful truth.
As I wake up to this, I realise I have been cut off from something fundamental that not only blocks me from those with black skin but to something fundamental in me.
The horror of this is that as my deconditioning breaks me open – those of colour do not have that prerogative. They have to wait for white people to wake up, to get it, to hear them!
And the only choice they have is how to respond to it, live with it, ‘tone themselves down’, disappear, fight it – whatever choice they make it is a choice forced upon them by the blind objectification of white systemic racism.
And I am sorry that I have only just begun to understand the ramifications of my own blindness and I am sorry I didn’t just keep asking till that blind spot was no longer there.
And I’m worried about saying any of this in case my black friends won’t believe my love for them anymore and I’m scared to even say the word black because surely there is no divide between us, even though my 18 year old self knew something I didn’t want to believe, something I just wanted to brush under the carpet and pretend wasn’t there.
And of course there is no divide between us not on a soul level not on the level we understand and experience oneness on but this does not account for the differences someone with black skin and white skin will encounter due to the society they grow up in, due to the history we hold in us, due to the media and everything else that feeds this separation and worst holds black people in a position where white people either patronise or rule. From what I understand this is white supremacy.
I was talking to a client of mine the other day not about a race issue but about something that she had experienced as a child.
As an adult she feels that even now, when she tries to talk about these incidents the adults who were around her at the time play it down, say they can not remember, brush it under the carpet.
It is as if they don’t want to make a big thing out of it so they don’t talk about it.
They have in some way come to believe that these things didn’t happen.
But for my client it did happen and she revealed to me that it is harder for her to heal now because of this lack of attention to it, this not seeing, this good intentioned but very painful reworking of history.
And this reminds me of where we are, where I am now.
It has made me see I have been trying to build relationships on a pretence.
How can another know my heart if it is full of fear, if it can’t really see beyond this wall I don’t even know is there and don’t try to dismantle it because I’m afraid they will think I’m racist?
So I stay a racist and we can’t really feel each other anymore.
I know our relationship can only deepen when I fully acknowledge this divide and my part in keeping it there and completely let go of any other outcome than establishing the truth of someone’s experience and in doing so dismantle the inequality I project on them.
That is my responsibility.
So my action has been to speak to my friends and ask how they really are? And I’m hearing things they never told me precisely because I never asked.
In my desperation not to create a divide between us I never really allowed them to exist in their full presence, nor me in mine.
I’m sorry for not asking sooner.
And I’m sorry for the fact that this doesn’t change the painful reality for those who have experienced pain, disregard, inequality, bias, oppression, insults, violence, the list goes on, because of others conscious or unconscious racism.
This is not meant to be an education in this painful and complex issue as my learning is only just beginning. In the nature of this newsletter it is simply some honest personal reflections. I do not want to talk about something I am not qualified to talk about so I am asking those who are.
My platform is small but I would like to offer it to those who feel they have something we need to hear.
So in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign I am going to run a series of reflections from black women close to my heart called
‘Things I never told you because you never asked.’
I would also like to open this up to any one in my audience who feels they have something they would like to say in response to this statement. I am offering an intuiting healing session in exchange for your reflections.
If so please do email me
I had considered making this a separate campaign but this invitation is intrinsic to me and my work and the space given to deep listening and the healing that can come from it, so I felt very strongly that I wanted this to come from the voice of my work which is my newsletter.
If you would prefer not to receive these emails please feel free to unsubscribe to my newsletter.
I would also like to acknowledge the pain of anyone of any racial creed, or religion, who has experienced racism or inequality and acknowledge that this overdue spot light on white racism against the black nation does not in any way wish to disregard your pain.
All racism is abhorrent and I make it clear today that I stand firm against racism and use this ‘lightening’ moment where all is seen to ensure this door never closes in me and I stand in full support of all brothers and sisters whom have suffered due to racism and I bare witness to this suffering, until equality is truly felt.