Latest posts by Kandin Unger (see all)
- And the point is, to live everything - 2016/05/14
- Eight ways to maintain/increase your cultural competence - 2015/09/20
- Breathing - 2015/09/05
When Eric Casebolt slammed Dajerria Becton into the ground for absolutely no reason but his own fear and prejudice, my Facebook and Twitter feed again bloomed with grieving and righteous upset. There was and is lament.
Every time racialized violence hits the news waves, every time that racialized violence shows up in a video, every time someone is brutalized, every time we see it, people around me grieve. There is lament.
I’ve learned a lot about grief this past year. For me, it has become the acknowledgement of an injustice. It is the recognition of pain and the understanding that this is where life stands today. It is a very humbling feeling for me. It is a reckoning with a new reality: one that I cannot change or control. I am sad and I am angry and I am upset and I am in pain. And we let the feelings wash over us as we heal. And then we adjust.
It is a strange space that I feel like I (and perhaps many others) occupy lately. There is a sense of lack of control, and yet a deep-seated responsibility for change. I think these two things co-exist together. To be honest, I haven’t figured out why and how just yet. But they do. So when my grieving collides with my deep sense of responsibility I am moved to change. Especially as a white person, I am moved to change.
My mother is a liaison at a hospital. She connects with patients’ families and significant others and guides them through the waiting room experience: the waiting, the nerves, the small updates on surgeries, etc. She is really good at her job. She is really good at caring for people (I have first-hand experience 🙂 ), which is a huge part of her job. She told me something the other day that struck me about how she approaches people.
She pauses. And then she reacts.
I feel like when I have conversations about race with other white people, it becomes so complicated. What is the answer to this huge problem? How do I solve this all right now? I feel uncomfortable. I feel guilty. How do I feel more comfortable? What am I allowed to say? Are you sure this is a problem? What can I do? How can I change other people?
Sometimes I wonder if it really is that complicated. We just pause. We just have to pause. I am a white person. I pause. And then I react. Sometimes a situation doesn’t even need to involve me. Sometimes I don’t even need to insert myself and my opinions places. Sometimes I simply say and/or do nothing. Just pause. Just take a second. Just think. Just pause. And be honest with yourself. Be honest with others. Be honest with the fact that sometimes we think and feel racist shit. It happens. This is an inevitable fact. Don’t be afraid of that fact. Face it. Face yourself. In your quiet moments at home and with friends, work through what this means for you. And then in the situations where you are interacting with people who are different than you, pause. And then react. Don’t just react. Pause. Be honest with how you’re feeling or thinking. Combat the feeling or thought if necessary. Then react. And when you do something hurtful even after pausing, apologize. Don’t do it again.
I believe in you my people. It’s the strangest thing. You’ve transgressed a million times. We’ve transgressed a million times. Or more. Definitely more. We perpetuate the state of affairs. And the state of affairs is fucked up. But I see our potential. I am forever seeing this elusive potential because I refuse to not see it in myself. We can do something about it. We can be a kind police officer; we can be an equitable apartment leasing office; we can be a fair teacher; we can be thoughtful managers. We can. We are already police officers, apartment leasing offices, teachers, and managers. We don’t have to be another Eric Casebolt. We just have to be better. We have to be better. We have to. And we can be.
We really can.
Pause first. Pause today. And react.
Today might be a good day to pause and then just lament.