Untangling the Thread

By Integrated Schools | January 10, 2021

There has been no shortage of analyses of the events in our nation’s capital this week. This article in Five Thirty Eight summed it up pretty accurately, that what we witnessed in Washington, D.C. is the violent outgrowth of a belief system that argues that White Americans should have an unlimited hold on the levers of power in this country. 

This type of analysis is inevitably followed by the #NotAllWhitePeople defenses. There’s a strong instinct among racially conscious White people to distance ourselves from these actions – to say “THIS IS NOT US”. 

This desire to be separate, to cut any threads between our Whiteness and THOSE people is understandable. One of the ways White supremacy works is by telling us there are no threads.  After all, these were extreme actions. But, as our founder, Courtney Everts Mykytyn, used to say, ”we love the egregious because it gives us cover from the everyday.”

This is egregious:

Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images

As is this:

Trevor Hughes / USA Today

And yet, there is a thread that connects us, as fellow White people.  We are part of what created this and the more we try to distance ourselves from it, the harder it will be to work against. 

This type of White racial identity is not created by accident.  There are 1000 different decisions, many unseen, that push someone to this point. And while this endpoint is egregious, it began with the everyday.  Where did they go to school?  What sorts of conversations did they have about race in their homes?  How many comments that flirted with racism went unaddressed?

These are the stakes in the decisions we are making with our own kids. What kind of identity are they developing? Are they growing up knowing others of different racial identities, so they can see them in their full humanity?  How are our decisions helping them form healthy White racial identities? 

January 6th was a clear example of the danger of concentrated Whiteness. And yet, our decisions perpetuate those systems. We have a full history of how this concentration gives rise to bias, ethnocentrism and xenophobia, but we still struggle to see the connection to our own actions. This is why we feel urgency about integration — White supremacy is coming for our kids. And not in a “lurking far away, around the corner, off in the distance” kind of way. In a “poison in the water, carbon monoxide in the air, TODAY” way.  

So we can’t do the distance thing. We can’t pretend that this is not us. We must recognize that we are all a part of the problem- because if we don’t see ourselves as part of the problem, we can’t see ourselves as part of the solution. 

adrienne marie brown said it beautifully in her poem/directive yesterday:

“things are not getting worse

they are getting uncovered

we must hold each other tight

and continue to pull back the veil

see: we, the body, we are the wounded place”

She goes on to say, “denial will not disappear a wound… and the founders‘ wound is the wound of supremacy.” 

It will take many iterations of pulling back the veil, of putting forth a different intention, a different action, in order to experience the national healing we need. But it can not happen in segregation, in silence, or in denial of our complicity. 

Posted in: news

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