Continued from "Balance and Maneuvering"
I fell. I got up. I was encouraged to keep riding. And I did.
Riding a bike got me outside of my house (I loved-still love-being home with the TV)
As I improved and trusted to be safe, I was allowed to ride further from my home.
And the world began to open around me.
I rode through my neighborhood and beyond, passing homes, wooded areas, empty lots.
I took note of things that were similar and things that were different. Different often was accompanied by the thoughts of “better or worse” than what I was familiar with.
I started to ride to friends’ houses and was often invited into their homes which often made those friendships closer, more personal.
I met siblings who I came to think of sophisticated, edgy, nerdy, creative, athletic or “potential prom dates” a million years into the future.
I met working moms who’d leave for their jobs, reminding us to lock the doors and not fill up on junk food. (novel as my mom stayed home until I was older.)
And the very best thing.... I got to watch MTV for hours! (My family didn’t have cable.)
Raspberry Beret. Thriller. Material Girl. Money for Nothing. Addicted to Love.
It was AH-MAZ-ING!
All made possible because riding a bike opened up my world .
NOTE: The trend of singular racial interaction continues. Yep… all these friends and families and homes were white folks like me. And it wasn’t something I ever thought to question.
In regards to anti-racism - I fell (I still do). I got up (still do this too.) I was encouraged and motivated to keep trying, keep learning and I did (and will - forever. For eva eva? Yes.)
Leaning into new awareness about race, privilege and injustice, got me outside of my white bubble.
As I grew (moderately) more confident, I allowed myself to stay longer in conversations beyond my comfort zone. What that entailed was much more listening - listening to understand.
And the world began to open up around me.
I signed up for workshops, attended film screenings and panel discussions where attendees represented diverse cultures, backgrounds, races and so on.
I took note of similarities and differences. At this point in my racial identity development (something I didn’t know was a thing, until I was taught it...in my 30s!) differences were nearly always accompanied by the thoughts of “better” and in better/more interesting than white. To an extent that was a positive, allowing me to engage in genuine curiosity. And I, like many white people, sometimes turned the concept of “better” into exoticism - a toxic behavior in the *culture of whiteness.
When I wasn’t oozing unconscious internalized white supremacy, some people I met became acquaintances, some of whom became friends. And at times have even invited me into their homes building deeper more personal connections.
With them, I enjoyed many new experiences - a Pozole-themed birthday party, celebrating a night of Hanukkah, joining a friend at his favorite middle-eastern restaurant, attending Black Theatre Troupe performances and more.
These new friends, most of whom identify BIPOC, have trusted me to hold space for their stories, and the joy or heartbreak they evoked. They have gifted me with their families and their traditions.
And the very best thing… the trust and sharing is a two-way street. They care about my stories, my family, my traditions too. We acknowledge the many differences between us - differences that matter. We also acknowledge similarities - hopes, dreams, values, being frustrated at work, celebrity crushes, celebrated use of the F-word and so much more.
Getting to a place of deep gratitude for our shared humanity is AH-MAZ-ING.
All made possible because anti-racist self-work opened up my world.
Its all good… and yet baby steps in the deep work of anti-racist development and skill building.
To be continued….
*culture of whiteness is distinct and unique from white skin color. Just like any human can adopt characteristics of hip-hop culture or sports culture or tech culture….Humans of any race can exhibit characteristics of the culture of whiteness. More about this to come.