Letter: White community must take responsibility
To the editor:
After reading the many recent Eagle articles covering racism in America, ("Anti-racism work climbs agenda for Berkshires arts, business groups, June 29.) I was struck by the call to "do more.". Yes, we must do more and yet, whose responsibility is it? Must our region's people of color be the ones to sit through and lead the slow process of teaching whites to reflect upon, reveal, and hopefully shatter the white community's fragility?
I struggle with the idea that we need people of color, who have been oppressed by whiteness for 400+ years, to now be charged with the burden of teaching white people the subtleties of racism. As a white person, I need to respect and amplify the voices of people of color and any group marginalized by those who hold and benefit from unearned privilege (whiteness, maleness, heterosexuality, etc). And while the Berkshires can only benefit from more diversity and inclusion, it is not the job of people of color to lead white's diversity education.
Multicultural BRIDGE and its director, Gwendolyn VanSant, are doing the powerful work of breaking down barriers that people of color still face. Organizations like theirs, the NAACP, and many others, should be consulted, respected and compensated for their role as experts. But undoing racism ultimately will entail a process of unlearning white privilege that whites have not yet been asked to take on as a society. It is a process we, as white people, must actively engage in, learn from, and hold each other accountable to, as we join and ally with people of color in their work to dismantle the institutions and structures of racism.
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