I started two drafts for this post – and discarded them both. One was about the current situation in the Rochester City School District, and the other about discrimination in the ROC health care system. The content was grim, mirroring the situations. Truth be told, what I was writing was mirroring my own depression about it!
I’ve been finding myself in a quandary lately about this blog: If I frequently report on the reality of the challenges faced by Black people in our community, will my white readers simply turn away? If I lay out the dire situation faced by parents and children in the RCSD, for example, will people simply stop reading? After all, you are grappling with your own adversities, woes or misfortunes. Why would you want to burden yourself further with the misery of other people? There is, after all, our natural human tendency to regulate our intake of grim news. Those engaged in education regarding climate change are contending with this same phenomenon.
Add to this tendency to close the faucet the dynamic of white fragility – that our tolerance for exposure to Black burdens is limited. And because we are white, we can opt out. We can choose to ignore or minimize, or perhaps feel compassion then move on, sadly shaking our heads. This, of course, is one aspect of white privilege.
Thus my quandary: I don’t want to be complicit in feeding white fragility by penning fluffy feel-good narratives that gloss over reality. AND I don’t want to have readers disconnecting because they find the posts consistently demoralizing.
Now it occurs to me that this is much like the dilemma I described in my last post: “The Race Card: Black Wariness Meets White Fragility.” This is a taste of what a Black person must feel when deliberating about pointing out racism:
If I don’t speak up, am I just feeding their denial of what’s actually happening?
If I do speak, will white people groan and say “There he goes again!” and then disconnect?
The enormous difference, of course, is that I have very little at stake if you disconnect. Oh, I’d hate to see you go, but it would be as much your loss as mine, actually. After all, this is not a paid gig based on readership. Or if you remain in denial because I’ve been too “soft”, again, that’s also your loss more than mine. So my little conundrum is an anemic parallel to what is at stake for a Black person facing the decision about speaking out.
Still, what do I do about this?
I am sitting with a deepened awareness of the courage required to speak out.
I’m also appreciating the many Black activists I’m meeting for the real risks they face of abuse, judgment, loss, condemnation, or worse.
I’m also tasting the power of white fragility to stifle honest conversations.
I invite you to help me. I want to know:
- Why do you read this blog? What are you looking for, hoping for?
- Do you have any feedback or advice for me about writing on grim situations?
- What topics are of particular interest? What would grab and hold your attention?
Click on “Leave a Reply” below. Thank you for reading this, and for helping to shape the future of this blog! And please continue on to the Action steps below.
The elections this coming November will be especially critical for the City. In addition to seats on City Council and on the School Board, two referendums will be on the ballot, with citizens having an extraordinary stake in the outcomes:
One will ask for citizens to approve the plan for a Police Accountability Board, as approved by City Council recently.
The other will deal with the possibility of NY State intervention in the Rochester City School District.
If you live in the City:
Check info on the Police Accountability Board Alliance Facebook page for background on this vital issue.
Commit time to assist in voter registration. Send interested people to the on-line site, or to MoCo Board of Elections 39 W. Main St.
Contact the League of Women Voters of Rochester Metropolitan Area to volunteer for registration drives. Ask to be assigned to a City location.
Go to Candidate Forums and quiz candidates on these issues, and ask for their concrete plans to address structural racism in city institutions.
If you are not a City resident:
You can still take the above steps.
In addition, attend candidate forums in your area and ask Monroe County candidates for their concrete plans to address structural racism in County institutions.