I don't want it to be true, but it is.
This is not about me. That is just my background. If you know me in real life, keep reading, this applies to you. If you don't, keep reading and see if we have anything in common.
I live in two very separate bubbles. On one hand, I live in a small town in New Hampshire. I grew up in an even smaller town in New Hampshire. I could count on my fingers the number of students in my school who weren't white, and that was in a public school comprised of three towns. I grew up in a hunting family, surrounded by gun lovers. We never went into the city unless it was to go visit a doctor in Boston. I don't even know how to use public transportation! I did not grow up practicing, or even really knowing anything about, any religion. I'd say I grew up pretty culturally sheltered. I still live within 20 minutes of where I grew up and went to school. A lot of us still live here. And a lot of us are terribly racist.
In my other bubble, I am a college educated, democratic voting, feminist woman with lots of opinions. I'm the first person in the room to get in an argument when someone at the party is saying racist or sexist shit. I'm the first person to stand up for the right for healthcare in an argument where someone is saying they shouldn't have to pay for health insurance. I have lots of friends and family members who have chronic illnesses (myself included) and I care about our care! Meeting more and more people with Crohn's and colitis has introduced me to more and more Jewish friends, as there is a pretty high number of Crohn's and colitis patients who are Jewish. I've volunteered at schools in the city, where the classrooms and teams are incredibly diverse and different from what I experienced growing up. (I need to do more of this.) I've been surrounded by lots of people who love to donate their time, effort, and money to charitable causes. Online I unfollowed all of the people who irritated me during the Presidential election, so my social media feed is largely down to people who don't post things that make me angry, meaning they probably don't oppose my beliefs. I've formed a little bubble for myself.
Again, this is not about me. Now that you know my background, I bet we relate on some level. Maybe it's how we grew up in small, not-so-diverse towns. Maybe it's how we surround ourselves with people like us in a bubble. I think most of us do the bubble thing.
What I've realized recently is that even though I am the person who will gladly stand up for what I think is right in an argument and I feel like I am on the right side of right and wrong, I still have underlying prejudices. I have to admit my racism.
I can admit that even though I don't mean for it to happen, deep down I have thoughts, worries, or judgements based on race or sex. And this is what I want to talk about. I feel like I am someone who is accepting and non-judgmental, but I still have these thoughts!
I was inspired to write this after the protests in Charlottesville. Or riots as they should probably be called.
People were proud to march, chanting things that said they were better than other people. They expressed their desire to remove entire groups of people from the country.
White supremacy. I honestly thought it was a thing of the past. Even though I hear people say racist shit all the time, I thought we were past that. I thought we were above that. But I guess that's my white privilege talking. (Yes, that's a thing, people from 93% white New Hampshire.)
I don't know what it's like to be another race or to be gay or to experience much prejudice at all.
I don't know what it's like to grow up in the South or in a city.
But I did take history classes. I did learn about genocide and slavery. I did learn that killing is wrong. I did learn that violence is wrong. I did learn that hatred is evil. And I did learn that people are people and people are equals.
All I know is how I grew up and where I grew up, and that's who I want to talk to.
I know that you probably want to be on the right side of history. So do I. But what can I do? I want to try to reach those of you who grew up like me and challenge you to think.
You grew up in the North. You grew up in a small town, surrounded by almost 100% white people. You grew up around almost 100% Christian people, as far as you knew. And because of this you probably have prejudice engrained in you. Maybe some of you are choosing racism, judgment, and hate on purpose. Keep reading. Some of us it's deeper down, behind the thoughts we mean to have.
You probably heard other people talking this way growing up and throughout school. Calling people who weren't white names. Calling people from the nearby cities names. Calling people who aren't Christian names. Calling people on government assistance names, assuming they aren't white, assuming they're on drugs, assuming they're not as good of a human as you. Saying immigrants steal jobs. Assuming someone's race based on the car you see drive by or how much money they appear to have. I could go on...
If we grew up together or your story sounds similar to mine in some way, I encourage you to think about this:
I challenge you to:
I wasn't sure if I should talk about this. I'm white, straight, not part of a religion being judged, and largely not effected by any of the recent crazy shit that has gone on. But I've also heard and read that that's exactly why I should talk about it.
So here I am. Being a keyboard warrior. Encouraging you all to stop and think a little bit. Think about where you stand and notice how you can change your behavior to tip the scale a little more to the side that is non-judgmental and accepting. Notice your subtle racism so you can correct it. Think about your blatant racism and if it actually makes any sense to act that way.
I don't know how to end this except for saying PEACE.
Hi, I'm Jessie!
I live in NH with my husband and our pup. My favorite things are coaching Girls on the Run, eating good food that I didn't have to cook, helping other people work on their health, volunteering for and running races, watching tv, doing yoga, and spending too much time on social media. #Balance