An Open Letter to My White Sisters….

By Rebecca Powers, A Contributing Author, written July 27, 2020

Last August, I was sitting in a 2-day class “Courageous Conversation:  Beyond Diversity”.  That experience changed my understanding of the racial landscape in America and the part I, as a White woman, have played in perpetuating the oppression of people of color, Blacks in particular—consciously and unconsciously.  Since birth, my skin color alone has given me privileges not granted to Blacks.  It’s time to change that and make amends.  The more I have learned about the systems and policies White people created ever since landing at Plymouth Rock to ensure their dominance over people of color, the more enlightened and ashamed I have become. I had no idea because our history books paint a different picture, and it’s not the whole truth.  

Over the last nine months, I have been examining my own life and figuring out the gaps in my understanding of what white privilege is and how it continues to oppress Blacks.  The case of Breonna Taylor is a prime example and weighs heavily on my heart.  Breonna was an emergency room tech in Louisville, KY, who was fatally shot by 3 White plainclothes officers on 3/13/20 at 12:40am.  At the time, she and her boyfriend were watching a movie in bed and heard a gunshot as the officers gained entry to her apartment after getting a no-knock search warrant as part of a narcotics investigation.  She died as a result of the cops blindly firing 20 shots.  She had no criminal history or drug convictions.  Five and a half months later, no criminal charges have been filed against the White officers.  Where is the justice in this?  

Growing up, I earned privileges by behaving well, doing my homework and completing chores.  One thing I didn’t earn was my white privilege.  I was born with it—solely due to the color of my skin. Now that I know better, I must do better.  Not just agreeing that the system White people have created is oppressive to Blacks, but DOING SOMETHING about it.  Agreeing that racial inequities exist is not enough.  It’s overwhelming at times, and I want to bury my head in the sand—because acknowledging these inequities means I have to live my life differently now than I have in the past.  I commit to being part of the struggle to erase racism.  It harms all of us.  Iwant to use this moment in history to help transform our country.  One step at a time.  One day at a time.  

Here are some action steps I have taken.  Some of these may inspire you to take action also.  

  • Read a book about racism for understanding and context:
    1. “Waking Up White” by Debby Irvingo 
    2. “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You” by Jason Reynoldso 
    3. “White Fragility” by Robin Diangelo
  • Work with a racial healing/social justice coach to process your feelings and beliefs (I can suggest a good one—we’ve been working together for 9 months)
  • Attend “Courageous Conversation:  Beyond Diversity” course hosted by various organizations around the country
  • Vote!

Let’s be part of the solution and not bystanders watching our Black sisters like Breonna Taylor suffer in a system that does not respect or honor them.  Let’s start today, even if it feels uncomfortable.  It will take all of us to disrupt the status quo.  Will you join me?  

“To refuse to participate in the shaping of our future is to give it up. Do not be misled into passivity either by false security (they don’t mean me) or by despair (there’s nothing we can do). Each of us must find our work and do it.”    –A. Lorde (1984)

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