On a Friday afternoon last year, I was on my way to a meeting with a friend.
As I approached the front of the room, I noticed that the white woman sitting next to me was visibly upset.
“You know what?
I’m really upset.
I don’t want to be here,” she told me, referring to the white women sitting behind her.
She continued: “I just feel like I’m the one who should be apologizing.
I was struck by how different this white woman’s experience was from that of a black woman in the same situation. “
I felt really angry, but also really sad,” she continued.
I was struck by how different this white woman’s experience was from that of a black woman in the same situation.
I was also struck by the way that the conversation went in that room.
We were discussing the way our white peers treated the black community, and I mentioned that I knew my white friend and my white colleague were both involved in the white-supremacist movement, and that she felt that way.
“I think you have to be open about the fact that you are a part of that movement, too,” she said.
“You should be saying things that make it easier for your white friends to be friends with you,” she went on, explaining that in order to be accepted as a friend, one needs to speak up for other people of color.
After hearing her, I realized that the way she described the experience of being a white woman in America had more to do with my own personal experience than that of the other white women in the room.
She was not only acknowledging that there were some white people who felt that racism and discrimination existed, she was also suggesting that it was their responsibility to speak out against it.
That was a significant shift in how I viewed my relationship with white people, and one that has been difficult to overcome for me in my work as a professor.
At the time, I felt like I was in the minority.
When I first began to speak about racism and the institutionalized oppression of people of colour in academia, my white colleagues were overwhelmingly supportive, and were very receptive to my critiques.
When I first spoke out about my experiences as a black person, they were dismissive and dismissive, even threatening.
They would ask me why I thought I was so qualified to speak on this topic.
And I would say, well, because I’m black.
They would say that I am black because I am white.
I would respond, well you know my experience is completely different than theirs.
They didn’t have to ask me if I was white, because they already knew that.
And I was happy to share that my experience was different from theirs.
This attitude was so ingrained in my experience that it’s something I’ve struggled to shake.
In fact, I have to take a step back and reflect on what I have done wrong and how I have failed to make progress in my efforts to understand the systemic racism that affects black people.
For many years, I’ve spent time thinking about how I am an example of how white people don’t understand black people and how they are failing to see black people as equals, or as part of their community.
So, when I shared my experience with a white colleague, I wanted to talk about why I had been so quick to dismiss the experience and to treat it like an afterthought.
Before I knew it, I had made a decision that had profound consequences.
My decision to be an ally to black people was based on my experience as a student of color, and it was not based on the fact I was a white person.
It was based in my understanding of racism and how white supremacy operates in society.
What did I learn?
What did I miss?
In an effort to answer that question, I spent time reflecting on the ways that racism affects people of different races, including how the racism that exists within white-dominated institutions affects black and brown people, including me.
One of the most frustrating parts of my life was how white colleagues treated me.
They treated me like a different person.
They dismissed my experience and thought it was a nonissue.
It was like I had to learn to be more willing to speak.
I had the opportunity to grow and be a better person.
But in doing so, I also lost the support of my white peers.
The fact is that white supremacy is a system in which we’re systematically disenfranchised and treated differently because of our race, and we need to stop and acknowledge that.
But we can’t stop and erase that injustice, because that will only make it worse.
So I had a chance to talk to people who had lived through that system, and my experience gave me a better understanding of how it worked, how