It’s time to speak up about race in America.
It was time a long time ago. But better now than never.
I like to think I’ve been an ally all my life. I won’t name the reasons why I think this, and in any event, I’m sure they’re inadequate.
The question is, as a middle aged white woman, what can I do now?
As my business has closed due to Covid, I can’t, at the moment, make substantial monetary donations to organizations fighting for racial justice.
What I can do is speak up about race and inequality.
Even Though It’s Difficult, We Must
Speaking up against overt racism is easier than calling out people on implicit bias. But calling out we must.
One small example. I have (had) a Facebook friend who posted “All Lives Matter.”
Instead of rolling my eyes and scrolling by, I responded. Respectfully.
I made the usual response to people who, intentionally or not, completely miss the point: “Of course all lives matter, but in so many instances black lives DON’T.”
Many analogies point this out. By saying “rain forests matter,” for example, you’re not saying other forests don’t, just that rainforests need our attention.
The analogy I used was this: If ten people were waiting in an emergency room and one was having a heart attack, the doctors would immediately treat that patient. The other patients matter also, but that one is in imminent danger. As are black people walking down the street. Or jogging. Or sleeping in their bedroom.
One of my friend’s friends responded with a rant. “One officer did a bad thing,” she said. “He’s been arrested. Case closed.”
She went on to deny the existence of endemic racism. Black people have equal opportunities (in fact more because companies get tax credits for hiring minorities); the infant mortality rate is higher among black people because of higher rates of abortion (she actually said that!!!!); black-on-black crime is a much bigger problem than isolated incidents of police brutality. On and on.
Is this person hopeless? Probably. But maybe others aren’t. So I responded, again.
Research on Racial Disparities
When I responded to this rant, I didn’t comment, instead posting links to research on the outcomes of racism.
That people with white-sounding names get called in for interviews at far higher rates than those with black-sounding names, when the resumes are identical.
All from reputable sources.
What happened? My “friend” unfriended me.
This is exhausting.
I can only imagine what black people experience in America EVERY SINGLE DAY.
So I will keep at it. I will continue to speak up about race, wherever I see bias of any kind.
In addition to speaking up about race, I commit to the following:
- I will continue to advise the white families in my (now-closed) preschool, with whom I’m still in close touch, to speak with their young children about race. And I will continue to provide them with resources that will help them have those conversations.
- My kids and I have discussed race since they were little. As they are of a different race than I am, and live as minorities in a white world, these discussions were borne out of necessity.
Would we have delved so deeply into race and issues of racism and justice if they were white? I don’t know. I hope so, but it’s very possible that we would not have.
As a family, we will continue to talk about race and determine how we can help in a substantive way.
- I will take action to assist the protesters. One family I read about brought supplies to protestors; perhaps we will do the same. Although money is tight at the moment, we will donate what we can to assist with bail for those who have been arrested.
- I will contact my lawmakers to demand change.
- As a white woman raised in a racist society, I will continue to educate myself and to check my own bias. I commit to using my privilege for good.
Conversations About Race Everywhere
Some may ask, “What place does an article about race have on a personal finance blog?”
I would answer that articles like this belong everywhere. Racism touches every aspect of our lives in America, including our financial lives.
So do what you can.
Recognize the uneven nature of the playing field, and help to level it.
Empathize with the anger and rage.
Be a beacon of shared humanity.
I will fall short, for sure. But I will continue to try.