The branches on the Seed’s apple tree are heavily weighted with dozens of apples. I’m certain the crop is larger than usual, due to the absence of small “harvesters” this year. The tree is also maturing, and capable of producing more. The apples seem symbolic of the weight upon us at this time in history, as we bring forth true social justice for all beings, particularly our brothers and sisters of color.
I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching these past few weeks. I don’t yet have answers or even a plan. I’m reading, watching, and listening as much as I can. In a recent podcast, Ibram X. Kendi said, “By not running from books that pain us, we can allow them to transform us.” That’s basically the space I’ve been inhabiting lately. I’m not doing it for approval, or to check off boxes on my antiracist white privilege list. I truly want to be a better human.
One thing that’s clear is it’s time for those of us with white privilege to do our own work, to find our way without depending on a friend or colleague of color to explain or educate us. It’s a place to start. My tendency in the past was to go to self-criticism and shame. I am daily practicing not going there this time, because I don’t think ultimately it will be helpful to anyone. My intention is to be transparent about my process and ask for guidance. I am committed to doing my personal work around issues of race and white privilege so I can be a better leader and change maker. No doubt, I will make mistakes, which I hope others will call me on when it happens.
I’ve been thinking about my personal history with race, where and how I grew up, and how that shaped my perceptions and attitudes. Over the years I’ve surrounded myself with an incredible circle of Black friends and colleagues, to whom I’ve turned for guidance when I’ve had questions. I’m deeply grateful for their willingness to engage with me in conversations about racial matters. I’ve tried to apply their wisdom, to be a good citizen, to cultivate a school community that promotes social justice.
In one of the podcasts I’ve listened to this week, a conversation between Brené Brown and Austin Channing Brown, several of their statements resonated and showed me a way forward. Austin said, “You may be a decent person, but you can be a better one.” As they continued talking, she added this: “The work of anti-racism is the work of being a better human to other humans…I think you have the capacity to be a better human. Would you? Would you accept that invitation?”
As I continued listening, in my mind already accepting her invitation, Brené added a valuable bit of wisdom to the conversation.: “I’m here to get it right, not to be right.” In the days ahead, I intend to keep working toward getting it right, through self-inquiry, conversations, and plans for how to work more mindfully with our Seed students and staff. I want to be a better human to other humans, and I invite you to consider doing the same.