One of my school year commitments is a year long involvement in "Community Unity: Racial Healing." There are 20+ of us on Western Michigan University's campus that have made the commitment to meet bi-weekly to discuss race: to share stories and work through feelings/memories/experiences. Last weekend, we spent two days getting to know one another, beginning to share, beginning to trust.
This isn't going to be easy work. Racism is so entrenched in our society, in so many ways. Ways that don't make sense but perpetuate the negativity regardless.
As a Gender & Women's Studies instructor/scholar, I'm familiar with this work. With terms like "white guilt," and "privilege" and ''oppression.'' Very different to read about it in a textbook, even to teach it, then it is to share a space with someone processing through the pain of the experience.
Regardless of one's skin color, we all have an experience of race. Most assuredly, not a positive experience of race. Already, this process is bringing up long-buried memories of difference, of discrimination for me. This weekend I learned that the magic is in our stories - shared and silent.
And, as the facilitator illustrated, we are all cousins on this journey. What affects one, affects us all.