Why open conversations about racism are necessary and important
If you read my blog or follow along on social media, you'll know I'm a white woman from the suburbs of Metro Detroit who has never experienced an ounce of racism in her life.
In light of the recent unjust killings of Black men and women in the United States, a new era of enlightenment, understanding and empathy is unfolding before our very eyes. Having tough conversations about unconscious bias, privilege or racism are not easy, but they ARE necessary for change.
My platform is mostly about holistic health and wellness, and part of living a truly healthy lifestyle is remaining committed to growth—mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. It's my firm belief that empathy could change the world if only we all practiced it more diligently.
Here is just one story from a reader and friend, who happens to be a Black woman in Chicago.
1. Tell us a little about yourself. What’s your name/how old are you? Where are you from? What are you up to these days?
My name is Rewdjety Redick, I’m 24 and originally from Flossmoor, Illinois, which is a south suburb right outside of Chicago. I have been working in advertising for about two years in Downtown Chicago (pre-Covid, of course).
2. How old were you when you first experienced racism?
My parents were very eager to involve my brother and I in tons of sports growing up. My sport of choice was gymnastics! In my many years in the sport I was one of the few African American gymnasts. Through that I remember being able to see, even at my young age, that I was being treated differently from my friends’ parents and even from the audience when I would perform my routines. As a kid, I was confused but grew up to understand what was going on.
As an adult, I have also come to understand through personal experience the word “privilege," another word that rubs people the wrong way. After college, during the many interviews I participated in, I realized the first thought I had when entering a room was what the interviewer’s perception of me would be before I spoke because of the color of my skin.
It didn’t matter how educated I was or how much experience I had, I found myself exerting more energy to prove that perception wrong…which is not something you should have to do at work! I would say it is privilege to not have to think twice about what people think of you based on the color of your skin.
3. Was that the only instance? If no, you can sum up other experiences or you can simply leave it at “no.”
4. How did you feel when you saw the recent unjust killings of Black Americans?
Upset, enraged, hurt, but I also had a feeling of familiarity as well. I say that because unfortunately this is not the first case I have heard of growing up. This is something that people in the Black community are very used to. I will never forget when I was in college, the feeling of fear I got when my parents called to tell me my little brother was pulled over by the police for speeding. Even though he was pulled over for a minor offense, because of how I know Black men (and women) have been treated by the police for minor offenses, I was so scared.
5. What has been the response amongst your family and friends?
Anger and sadness of course, just because they have seen cases like this happen so much.
6. What do you wish non-people of color would know about your experience?
That “Black Lives Matter'' is not a cause or term to shine light away from the importance or fact that yes, everyone’s lives matter! I’ve seen a lot of backlash on this term and other groups emerge like “Blue Lives Matter'' and “All Lives Matter.”
It upsets me to see movements like that only through history, repeated offenses and overall systemic racism, Black lives seem to not be valued. Never should it be the norm for a Black man or woman to feel in danger by the men in uniform that are supposed to protect and follow laws! It’s just a movement to say Black Lives Matter TOO, or as well as everyone else’s. When did buying gum at a store and a black hoodie lead to death?
Thank you, Rewdjety, for sharing your story.