As the youngest of three children growing up in an upper-middle-class white family, I, despite the privileges of our family status, never felt like I ‘fit in’ with my family. I am a strong empath with a physique more representative of my maternal grandmother: strong, and sturdy. These attributes lead to being ‘othered’ by my family: “You are too sensitive’, “ You are too fat-no man will love you.”
This messaging throughout my formative years resulted in poor self-image and confidence. Though these experiences of being ‘othered’ were painful , they were not obstacles to pursuing my education, deciding on a career and changing it several times, and purchasing a house or living where I desired. However, these experiences along with my strong empathic nature, did heighten my awareness of and becoming an advocate for the ‘othered’. I never viewed those who didn’t look like me as ‘different’ only as ‘on the outside looking in’.
It wasn’t until my recent participation in extensive diversity, inclusion and equity training, that the complicated depth of what it means to be ‘on the outside looking in’ in this country became clear to me. In addition to learning the truth about this country’s racism , I experienced the painful reality that just by virtue of being white, I have been unknowingly complicit in supporting those structures and institutions that were designed to keep the ‘othered’ on ‘the outside, looking in.’
What struck me as I was doing this work? It is not the responsibility of the ‘othered’ to make the necessary changes to achieve racial equity in this country! As a society we have ignored the pleas for social justice that the ‘othered’ have made since before the highly visible civil rights movement of the 1950’s-60’s. It is time for the members of the predominate culture, i.e., white, to step up, learn the true history of our nation, examine our own unconscious bias and change the inequitable institutions keeping the ‘othered’ in place.
This is why I am partnering with Derek Ewell. Together we are presenting important learning opportunities to increase ‘racial literacy’.
Won’t you join us?