Eye Wide Open - The Importance of Recognizing the Role of Race in Self Understanding

When you are born into this world wrapped in white skin you inherit the benefits of a society that was built and designed to recognize you as a full human, valuable mind and worthy of the most basic of human needs.

When you are born into this world wrapped in brown skin you inherit the realities of hundreds of years of enslavement, being recognized as just 1/3 of a human, being bought and sold and treated as carelessly as animals or furniture. You are born into a society that was never active or intentional in ensuring your freedom and justice.

This affects feminism in particular because there must be an acknowledgment of the various intersections of womanhood in order to truly fight for all women. Audre Lorde explains it best in her quote " Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you; we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down on the streets and you will turn your backs on the reasons they are dying."

As we all continue to explore who we are, what we’re here for and how we navigate through this world we must also take into consideration how all of those things juxtapose with the people around us.

For white people this is particularly imperative. Throughout history white communities have exploited the bodies, lives and existence of brown and black communities all over the world. Colonization, slavery, segregation and apartheid, lack of civil rights and police brutality all over the world has proven this time and time again. So many systems and societies that we are living in right now are the results of this type of socially constructed hierarchy in existence. With that being said white people must factor in where they fit into this truth about our world.

This type of self work is not easy. It is not comfortable and it is not fun. Yet, it is imperative. There can be no truth and authenticity in living if we choose to stay in the comfort of a “color-blindness” that only benefits those whose lives are not negatively affected by their skin color.

Sit in a quiet space, pen and paper in hand, and truly take the time to unpack your privilege. Invite your partner, your roommates, your children, your mother, your best friend, your co-workers and your little sister to do the same. One of the first steps towards effective allyship and truly open eyes to white supremacy is recognizing your position within it.

Dr. Peggy McIntosh created a meaningful collection of work called Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack which is an excellent start to digging into the concepts of white privilege and becoming aware of where it all fits into our personal and everyday lives.

My challenge to you is to commit. Commit to making your practice towards self actualization full and rounded and true and effective in everysense. Doing so means coming to terms and taking action on the ways race unfortunately has a role in how we navigate this world we all share.