The recent murders of Black people by police have reignited the flame that is the Black Lives Matter movement...but violence and oppression against Black people is nothing new. I don't even need to tell you this because you have lived and experienced this truth first-hand.
As a white woman with privilege I want to first and foremost acknowledge that I will never know what it feels like to live in a black body. I will never pretend to know. My promise to you is that I will see you; I will listen to you and I will believe and honor your stories. Your experience matters.
I want to acknowledge that white people, people who look like me, are the ones who have created and sustained this system of oppression. White people have essentially told you through their words and actions for hundreds of years that your lives don't matter. Our society has been designed to hold you back and to propel the status of white people. Our society has never been fair and it has never been just. From slavery to mass incarceration, this is an American legacy that white people have been unwilling to face. The recognition and acknowledgement of this is far overdue. Action is far overdue.
As the Black Lives Matter movement gains momentum again, I'm guessing a lot of you have been approached by white people with comments like "Oh my gosh, isn't this crazy??", "I feel so sad/angry/guilty/etc", and "How can I help? What are some resources I can use to educate myself?". I'm not going to lie - as a white person this is where I started. And after doing a lot of listening, research, and deep reflecting I now truly understand that it is not your responsibility to educate white people. It is not your job to hold white peoples' sadness/grief/anger/guilt/etc. It is your job to respond to the current state of the world in whatever way serves you best.
Perhaps what's serving you best at this time is throwing yourself into the movement - attending protests, donation money, having tough conversations, etc. Perhaps what's serving you best is spending time with other Black people, taking time to hold space for each other without having to explain yourselves. Perhaps what's serving you best is stepping away from the chaos and focusing on self-healing or the healing of others. And it's important to recognize that what's serving you best may change over time. Whatever you are choosing to do, I want to encourage you to honor your needs and to prioritize your self-care.
White people created this system of oppression and I believe it is our responsibility to dismantle it. As a white person and as your therapist, my promise to you is that I am committed to doing the work. I will not pretend like I have all the answers for how to do that, but I am committed to figuring it out. It does not have to be your responsibility to do the work for white people; you have carried more than enough weight. It is time for white people to own the fact that we are contributing to a racist society and start doing our work. I used to think that my good intentions and the work I did in graduate school about racism and my personal biases was enough. It is far from it. In order to dismantle racism, action must be taken. I am now committing myself to a deeper journey, and I recognize that it is no one's responsibility but my own. I am doing my research, I am having tough conversations with my friends and family, and I am supporting organizations that are fighting racism and injustice.
This work will be ongoing for me, and will by no means be done by reading a few articles and having a few conversations. Just like fish in water, we have all been born into a racist society, and we will continually have to uncover the layers of racism and biases within us. As a therapist and as a person I am willing to commit to this journey. That being said, I will probably make mistakes. I will probably say or do the wrong thing at times, but my promise to you is that I will continue to learn from my mistakes and continue to learn how to show up as a better white person and as a better therapist.
I became a therapist because I am passionate about empowering people to find healing, meaning, and growth through their experiences. I believe that people have innate resilience, and this seems to be especially true of the Black community. Your life matters. Your future matters. And I am here to support you in whatever way I can.