2017 Showed A Lot Of Ugly. And How White People Can Do Better In 2018

1 Jan

We made it through a year of this current administration’s agenda which stood for the hatred of those they consider “other” and a threat to their “making America Great again” dream. We became angry, and our hearts broke, over and over again, with each dismissal of a case of a police officer who got off after killing an unarmed Black person. We watched Puerto Rico’s call for assistance be placated with thrown paper towels. We saw our sisters and brothers from other countries who have lived and worked here trying to build their own versions of the American Dream be torn away from their families and deported, all to make us “safer.” We just learned that all the members of the White House Advisory HIV/AIDS Counsel were fired. I could go on and on, but you get it. You lived through it, too.

In my own life in 2017, I strove to go beyond “waking up” and to take committed action to fight racism, and break down the systems of structural racism that exist in our lives at even what may seem, the smallest of levels. Day to day, I work to model what it means to question the micro-aggressions I witness, to share what I’ve learned about how structural and institutional racism works so that when someone brings up things like “the everyone should be able to pull themselves up by the bootstraps like my immigrant family (with white skin–that part left out) did line..” I can respond to that notion.

As, I’ve mentioned here before, one of the main things I focus on in regards to race and cross-racial connections, is how white-centered many physical spaces are, and how white European-centric everything–workplace employment, policies and norms; arts spaces; educational institutions; businesses, is. Every day, pretty much every minute of the day, I am looking at life through an inclusion/exclusion lens. When I came across the following, of course, it gave me pause:


real estate staff
This photo represents the staff of a local real estate company here in Providence, Rhode Island. It is an advertisement featured on the back cover of a local monthly magazine. I don’t want to make assumptions as to people’s race or ethnicity, and yet, a full-page of white faces of this forty-seven member staff makes my mind race with questions, like, wow, don’t you guys notice that you are surrounded by people who look just like you, and that there is an absence of Brown and Black people?Β  How do you think a person of color feels when they see this ad, or walk into your office to use your services?Β  How would a person of color feel applying to be a realtor at your agency? Would they feel welcome?

Those last two questions came up when I showed the photo to my boyfriend, who prefers to be called Black. His response, after jokingly saying, “hmmmm, let me think about what stands out about this photo…” was, “well, it can also be cultural. People from our culture might feel like they aren’t interested in becoming a realtor, that that’s not for them…Also, the idea to save or invest money isn’t reinforced. Instead, most of the images in the media are messages that reinforce the idea of showing income level through material possessions instead of investments.” He went on to go deeper into those thoughts by noting that of course “not all Black people” fall into the category of not saving, investing, or believing they can’t go after a certain type of endeavor because of the color of their skin.

I wish I could say I didn’t try to whitesplain respond to him with questions like, “But do you think that maybe part of it is that Black people think something is not for them because for so long they never saw themselves represented in a variety of careers, whether in the media or their day-to-day lives, and that is part of what structural racism is and does?” And thinking about the real-estate photo, I thought about the whole history of red-lining in real-estate which shut Black people out of being able to buy homes in certain neighborhoods, of not being able to get mortgages, or if they did, they had unreasonably high interest-rates. And, I thought, yeah, could this have something to do with people of color not wanting to get into the real estate field, especially in an entity like the one shown in the photo?Β  My boyfriend said that if someone wants to get into the field, though, they will, they’ll fight against the standard, or they’ll go off on their own and do it.

In reflecting on our brief conversation, I am not sure if he felt this way about what we were talking about, but he seemed to be saying, not everything is about racism, it’s about culture, too. It seemed like he was keeping an open mind., and saying that just because they have a white staff, doesn’t mean they are a racist company. I appreciated his perspective because I’m starting to feel at times like all my obsessive noticing of whiteness, has led me to jump to conclusions–to quickly categorize something as racist. Still, in thinking about the real estate ad, it made me feel like structural racism is why we have this photo. Why majority-white businesses keep on keeping on without noticing their whiteness, or how their mono-racial make-up excludes, makes people feel unwelcome, upholds the benefits of white privilege and systems of white supremacy, and can lead to inequality and preferential treatment to those with white skin, thereby perpetuating, in this case, what happens with real estate: white neighborhoods stay white, and neighborhoods with people of color stay that way, and the resources between the two stay lopsided.

I hope that in 2018 white people take real action in dismantling this lopsidedness once and for all. Hold me to doing my part, too, please.

I thank you all for your readership and support this past year. Here’s to a much better 2018, filled with love, joy, compassion, and equality. Happy New Year to all.

2 Responses to “2017 Showed A Lot Of Ugly. And How White People Can Do Better In 2018”

  1. Sherry Gordon January 19, 2018 at 2:25 am #

    Dear Wendy Jane,

    Well, hello, there, Wendy Jane and greetings and salutations to you and to you AND FOR VERY ESPECIALLY FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, my so, so very FOR ALWAYS awesomely precious and dearly special soul sistahfriend who you’re FOR ALWAYS so, so very much!!!!! WOW, sistahfriend, WOW!!!! I’m FINALLY able to write my response with my very heartfelt, detailed, and thorough thoughts, ideas, and comments!!!! I’ve been just so longing to do so just bursting with such delightfully eager anticipation-I’ve been very gradually starting to feel better from being not feeling so well for awhile and I’ve been getting better and with my physical health getting better with such starts and stops!!!!! WOW, I’ve been so yearning and wanting to write my comments and NOW I’m FINALLY able to and I’m just so, so very glad, thrilled, overjoyed, and happy, Wendy Jane, and doing so are my very joy, honor, blessing, and pleasure, and plus such great fun for me, Wendy Jane!!!!! I so want to say to you and to you and FOR VERY ESPECIALLY FOR YOU AND YOURS, my so, so very sweet sistah FOR YOU and your dear beloved boyfriend, Howard, for your precious girls Leni and Darla, and for all of you and yours with your very special and awesome family A VERY NICE BLESSED SPECIAL AND HAPPY BRAND NEW YEAR!!!!!!! πŸ™‚ <3 Sistahfriend, I sometimes struggle with having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep so I thought I'd feel better writing to absolutely AWESOME YOU, Wendy Jane, and your brilliantly empowering blog instead of continuing to toss and turn to no avail!!!!! UGH!!!! Sister, I'm just so, so very happy and thrilled about your wonderful news about your amazing new boyfriend Howard!!!!! What an answer to my prayers-I've been praying so hard, so much, and so often daily that you'd find your true love with someone special!!!!! πŸ™‚ <3 YAY for YOU and Howard, my absolutely FANTASTIC sisterfriend, Wendy Jane!!!!! πŸ™‚ <3 YAY!!!!!! πŸ™‚ <3

    Sister, what a beautiful, brilliantly beautiful blog post article this is here which proves to be very encouraging, emboldening, and inspirational, Wendy Jane!!!!! WOW!!!! WOW, my so, so very precious, dear, dearest Wendy Jane, I've always just so loved and cherished YOU, and feel just so happy and thrilled with your lifetime love for us as your cherished and so, so very dear black sistahs and brothahs and how you continue to learn and grow by leaps and bounds as you work in such a diligently conscientious fashion as a so, so very right on, wondrously wonderful soul sistahfriend anti-racist white woman, Wendy Jane!!!!! πŸ™‚ <3 YOU do and continue to do such a powerful job as such an awesome and empowering ally in the very great spirit of unity and solidarity, my friend!!!! πŸ™‚ <3 I bore witness to how you this past year worked so valiantly to even more so grow from awakening to in taking committed, definite, concrete, and intentional practical action to eradicate and dismantle racism with all of its oppressive and discriminatory features, and also as to how you worked on those small and pesky areas of racism, Wendy Jane!!!!! You're just so, so very dear and courageous as you continue to strive to model what anti-racist allyship and action mean and being so brave in speaking up against the microaggressions you witness, see, and hear happening like in challenging other white people who do these aggravating things. You are very prepared with very relevant answers as some white persons just don't get it and you're learning even more and more how to navigate the very tricky terrain of those very difficult and awkward conversations, sistah!!!!! Sistahfrined, as I FOR ALWAYS think, feel, believe, and say I so love and cherish YOU, dear, dearest Wendy Jane, and other awesome white persons as my sisters and brothers and our Good God's precious children. I am a black Pollyanna and despite the very difficult year there was last year in all of its ugliness I still FOR ALWAYS have my very enduring and abiding, sweet and eternal positive optimism as the indigent, disabled lesbian black woman who I am despite it all, Wendy Jane! I have such complete love for and confidence in YOU, my sweet white sister, and in other marvelous white persons as my sistahs and brothahs, very especially YOU, Wendy Jane, and my so, so very, very many other so, so very right on, wondrously wonderful soul sistahfriends white women who just so loving and cherishing each and every one of you as such super white women with you all being my very, very heart!!!!! πŸ™‚ <3 Sister, YOU and other SUPERB white women are my by very, very far my very favorites among white people and also my by very, very far my very favorites among all people in general, Wendy Jane!!!!!! πŸ™‚ <3 Sisterfriend, YOU and other absolutely FANTASTIC white women are my very life and eternal blessings, Wendy Jane!!!!!! πŸ™‚ <3 YOU all as such so, so very cool in spirit and Spirit white women being such the very, very epitome of such overall awesomeness are just AWESOME, my friend!!!!! πŸ™‚ <3

    Sistahfriend, as soon as I looked over the photo which you've very graciously and generously included and featured with your very so chock full of wisdom blog post article here I, too, found that it gave me pause. Wendy Jane, I thought to myself that the people in the photo all are white people or at least visually appear to be white people, most of whom appear to be white men but I definitely thought to myself that these are all white people here. Sistah, I thought along the same lines as you did, dearest Wendy Jane, and I thought that this picture which this company put out didn't come across to me as inviting, welcoming and inclusive for black persons and other persons of color with the photo appearing to me to only present an image of all white people. I totally see all of your great points, thoughts, and questions in this outstanding blog post article by you here as you percolated and formed your very engaging and endearing thoughts and ideas on the matter, my friend! I see both your points, dear Wendy Jane, and your precious Howard's points, sistahfriend! Sistahfriend, I love Howard's great point about how some black persons focus more on gaining material possessions than on developing and increasing investments. WOW, Howard has made such a brilliant point and observation here, sisterfriend!!!! WOW!!!! Sometimes I think that with at least some black persons that they focus too much on the gaining of material possessions and material wealth instead of being more practical. Sisterfriend, I don't think that you jump to conclusions, Wendy Jane!!!!! WOW, YOU have such keenly sharp insight with such deep clarity and empathy, sistah!!!!! WOW!!!!! I just so love being along with YOU, sistahfriend, on your process and journey with your ever blossoming anti-racist allyship in solidarity in the very great spirit of unity, Wendy Jane, and I've all of the very time and patience in the world to very joyfully and blessedly work with YOU, sistahfriend, and with other astounding white persons in this very great endeavor we all have here in enhancing and building our special and blessed humankind in society and community!!!!!! WOW!!!! What a joy and blessing this is for me, sistah, and for YOU, my so, so very dear friend, and for all of us, Wendy Jane!!!!!! πŸ™‚ <3

    My friend, now I feel even better and brighter with even more greatly added cheer in responding with such sheer blessed joy to this very powerful and uplifting blog post article here by absolutely FANTASTIC YOU truly feeling encouraged, emboldened, and inspired by YOU, Wendy Jane, my sweet white sistah!!!!! πŸ™‚ <3 I have all of the love for and confidence in the world in YOU, my dear, dearest Wendy Jane, and in other amazing white people that you all can make such great strides in this brand new year 2018 and beyond in taking real action in dismantling this lopsidedness as you very brilliantly share and declare here!!!!! πŸ™‚ <3 Sistah, I, and we, just thank-YOU for being there for us with your very full of such astute and acute sagacity blog post articles and other very fine and excellent writings with all you do so, so very well in such a diligently conscientious manner doing your absolutely very best in such an effective, productively proactive, efficient fashion, and mainly I, and we, all thank-YOU for being the ABSOLUTLEY WONDERFUL YOU WHO YOU ARE, Wendy Jane!!!!!! πŸ™‚ <3 Right back at ya, my friend, that 2018 will be filled with love, joy, compassion, and equality, Wendy Jane!!!!! πŸ™‚ <3 Wendy Jane, I thank-YOU and God continually FOR YOU and FOR YOUR VERY PRESENCE IN MY VERY LIFE!!!!!! πŸ™‚ <3 WOW, YAY for YOU, Wendy Jane!!!!! WOW!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!! YAY YAY YAY YAY!!!!!! YAY for our very sisterhood and friendship, Wendy Jane!!!!! WOW!!!! YAY!!!!! YAY YAY YAY YAY!!!!!! πŸ™‚ <3 Sistahfriend, Spirit so, so very much loves and cherishes YOU A WHOLE LOT AND SO DO I, TOO, A WHOLE LOT AND WHOLE BUNCH, Wendy Jane!!!!! πŸ™‚ <3 by the time you read this it'll be Friday so please have such a fun-filled and fantastic Friday, a wondrously wonderful weekend ahead, and may all of your very days be so, so very especially blessed, Wendy Jane!!!!! πŸ™‚ <3 Happy New Year to you and to you AND FOR VERY ESPECIALLY FOR YOU AND DEAR HOWARD AND FOR YOUR BELOVED GIRLS LENI AND DARLA AND FOR ALL OF YOU AND YOURS, sistah!!!!!! πŸ™‚ <3 Wendy Jane, YOU are just so, so very absolutely AWESOSME and such a joy and blessing!!!!!! πŸ™‚ <3

    Very Warmly and Sincerely FOR ALWAYS, my so, so very FOR ALWAYS awesomely special and dearly precious soul sistahfriend white woman, Wendy Jane, sister of mine, with My and SPIRIT'S VERY PEACE AND LOVE FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, sisterfriend of mine, and WITH SUCH BLESSINGS AND SUCH VERY EVEN MORE BLESSINGS FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, friend of mine, πŸ™‚ <3

    YOURS FOR ALWAYS soul sistahfriend black woman AND FOR ALWAYS IN THE VERY GREAT SPIRIT OF UNITY AND SOLIDARITY, Sherry Gordon in Iowa City, Iowa πŸ™‚ <3

    • Wendy Jane January 19, 2018 at 8:43 am #

      hello Sherry,

      So wonderful to hear from you, as always. I am glad that you are feeling better, but sorry that it was your lack of good sleep that got you up writing! thanks for all that you share here–for being in tune with what is being said about inclusion/exclusion, and as always, thanks for all of your good wishes for me and my loved ones. Wishing you all the best, sistahfriend! xo

      Wendy Jane

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