Updated: Aug 10, 2020
Taking a look in the mirror and choosing to be actively anti-racist
by Maddy Carlson
Growing up, I knew I wasn’t racist. I didn’t think my family was racist, even if some of them said some “questionable” things. We grew up learning that Abraham Lincoln freed all the slaves and Martin Luther King Jr. ended segregation. We thought there were only a few racists left in the country. And that was it.
We were taught that If you knew you were “good,” that was enough. If you were kind enough, liberal enough, recycled enough, went to the “good” schools, said your “pleases” and “thank yous” enough, then you were fine and everyone knew where you stood.
I knew I wasn’t racist and I thought that was enough. But it isn’t. It’s not enough to be a passive ally. And I’m sorry I thought it was. It shouldn’t have taken a movement like this for me to actively share my thoughts on social media. It’s not enough to know that you aren’t racist, you need to show up, listen, learn, and be loud about your support. You need to live it everyday.
I have lived in Washington, Wisconsin, and now North Carolina. Racism is still everywhere and we need to acknowledge that. We cannot pretend racism is not real for every Black person in this country. They are facing this every day. I saw a video on social media of an 11-year-old Black girl throwing her hands up in the air because a cop car pulled over while she was in a park playing! We saw Tye Anders drive to his grandmother’s house while being pulled over because he was so afraid he was about to die. That is fear and white people are privileged to not fear for our lives daily.
I think about my future kids with everything I do. I think about how my actions today will affect them, and I think about what they’ll learn from me. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, as we live through this movement. When my kids grow up I want them to see their mom as a strong woman who helps others, who stands up for what's right, and who treats others with respect wherever I am. I want them to know that I don’t know everything but that I’m learning everyday from the people around me.
I want them to be loving and accepting. I want them to know that even though this world can seem dark, that the love and light they bring to others makes it a bit brighter. They will know to show up for Black lives and all other lives that have been marginalized in our destructive history, because this movement isn’t just a moment in time, this is how we become better as a whole.
In order to set this kind of example for my future children, I need to work hard every day to learn more, support more, and listen more.
It’s not an easy road ahead of us and we have so many changes to make. It is not the responsibility of the Black community to teach us or help us unlearn our racial biases, we need to step up and make changes alongside them. We need to follow the lead of our Black friends and family, and then maybe we can create real change