Very White GuyTop answers
When you think of "home" what do you think of?Anastasia Murphy
This is bitter sweet & timely (love you Anastasia).
I'm coming to terms with the fact that I'm sort of the "patriarch" of that side of my family. One of the few oldest generation of males. My house the past 4 years has served as a focal point for family gatherings, holidays and more. As my family parted ways, the last time ever at that house I said amidst the tears that a house is just a house but that it's family which makes it home and regardless of the next house I expect them to visit and make it a home soon.
What got you so involved with rights of persons of color as a white guy?
My wife is black & so are many of my family members so I am personally passionate about the #BlackLivesMatter movement
Do you remember your first real moment of clarity regarding race and privilege?Anastasia Murphy
Wow there's been so many incremental steps along the way. My biggest was in a college course in my minor (social work) & a discussion of Peggy Macintosh backpack of invisible privilege. That same day (DONT DO THIS) I asked my black suitemate a host of questions. I really put him on the spot inappropriately by making him answer for all black people. I asked about miss black America pageant, wearing symbols of Africa and all sorts of dumb white shit. But he listened, he obliged my ignorance & he really educated me. I can remember it like it was yesterday.
I wish he & I could connect again someday. I'd thank him & apologize for my ignorance.
When did you first recognize your white privilege? Was there one event or occurrence that turned on a light bulb, or was it gradual?
I'd say it was mostly evolution but my mom did an excellent job (good foundation) and there were a few incidents that have really stuck with me.
I grew up in one of the wealthiest zip codes in America (was a sundown town too) & began to see my class privilege in college. As a psych major I took a social work credit or two & remember almost to the day when we studied Peggy Mcintosh backpack of privilege exercise. We took a step fwd for each privilege - I was many feet in front of everyone. I also remember an exercise asking students to name epithets and none of the white students saying any black epithets and black students being shy with white epithets (there aren't any other than perhaps douchey) but come time for LGBT slurs in particular for lesbian many recounted words/epithets with almost glee like fashion (no excuses but this was 25 yrs ago) and a woman spoke up and commented how everyone was so free to say these words because there wasn't any openly LGBT students in class ...that we knew of. Hearing her say that & understanding she was talking about me really sank in. I was embarrassed an thats (for me) a profound motivator - the desire to not feel that way again. That's probably why I don't mind being checked - it's a gift to help me grow.
I had another class with a woman who is blind and we spoke often about her experiences growing up blind and being treated differently. I remember how she told me she was pissed to find out at 13 that milkshakes came in flavors other than chocolate (no one bothered to ask her/tell her).
Shortly after college I met, fell in love with and ultimately married a black woman. She has obviously been a tremendous impact on my understanding of my privilege. Seeing my wife & family face adversity because of supremacy really highlights just how privileged I am. My wife and I have been able to have very intense discussions about race & privilege knowing we're in a private, safe place.
I'd say, moms foundation allowed me to be more open to understanding followed by specific interactions/courses in college that started my evolution of understanding my privilege. That evolution is ongoing and forever. As an example, I believed/espoused the "I don't see color" rhetoric in my 20's.
I should clarify that I have a good grasp of my white privilege (never complete/perfect) but I struggle with patriarch & my male privilege. I fall back on my male privilege often & have to work very hard at combatting it.
The first revolution is from within. A desire to understand & continue to learn is the key.
Dear future me ,
Don't sign up for #Verizon as @verizonsupport lies, steals & cheats. They're totally worthless & a scam.
Did you meet your wife Leslie online?
Given the state of the world today, what are four fundamental things you'd like to change to make it a better place?
In no specific order....
1) Critical thinking/decision making skills taught throughout ones education (including critical race theory)
2) Society collectively deciding that people are infinitely more important than people and things
3) End to the US oligarchy & return to a TRUE democracy (end ALEC, end Citizens United, end dark PAC money)
4) Some measure or means for corporations to be held accountable by society for their plunder & pillaging of our earths resources & their abuse of marginalized people worldwide
Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first?Anastasia Murphy
Interesting question - I think there's a sort of in-between phase where I have "felt" like I knew truth regarding supremacy and anti-black racism...but I didn't have enough data/information to "challenge" it.
I think of it as people on the fringe - they're not supporting black liberation (yet) but they "feel" or "sense" that something is very wrong with regards to white supremacy & anti-black racism. Police brutality sort of falls along these lines - there are many people that can quickly/easily "see" just how wrong it is but have not quite connected all the dots between the outcome (extrajudicial killings) and systemic racism, implicit bias etc.
If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?Anastasia Murphy
I think the answer is part fragility & part human nature. I myself definitely learn more from my failures than I do from any success - yet I am still deathly afraid of failure. I advocate for white anti-racism people to be comfortable failing - as our lot is to fail over and over again.
I myself make tons of mistakes. It's a weird paradox in that I don't WANT to make mistakes and I try HARD not to make mistakes - but know that I will ALWAYS make mistakes when it comes to understanding my privilege.
It seems the more I am comfortable failing the less those failures derail me. The failures aren't "unexpected" or a "surprise" so I am able to rebound easily. This approach also helps me take ownership and be accountable to my errors. That is, when I make mistakes - I don't deflect or try to avoid blame - I own them & make myself accountable to those I let down.
Never the less, I am still very leery of making mistakes...I would say the "fear of failure" is a significant motivation.
I think I have always been a "jump head first" kind of person. I am reckless with my own body, I have broken my back and multiple bones. I am not easily "embarrassed". My fear of failure isn't my embarrassment but rather letting others down. The more I "try" and the more I "fail" the easier it gets and the less "afraid" of failure I become.
What does your joy look like today?Anastasia Murphy
Today it looks like a nice run...I've finally started running again and the weather is great so I'm finding my joy in running
What motivates you to work hard?Anastasia Murphy
I've been told that I'm not sufficiently motivated by financial gain (in a personality inventory for employment). I like the satisfaction of completing what I set out to do. So I guess I'm sort of motivated by my own desire to succeed ...or avoid failure.
What is one thing you will never do again?
Get married because I've found my one and only already
How do you go about influencing someone to accept your ideas?
I'm not so sure I convince anyone. I just stand for what I believe in and I make those beliefs well known.
"On this topic I will not equivocate...I will be heard" - William Lloyd Garrison
How did you come up with your username?
There was never any other choice. My handle is apt, but I'd like to think I'm atypical.
I am wondering what you think about Whites intentionally permeating white spaces as a way to combat racism (rather than waiting for an issue to present itself. Can we accomplish this and if so how can it be done despite sometimes being the sole voice to challenge white supremacy?
I am all for it. I think white people need to take responsibility specifically for educating our fellow white citizens. As a white male with privilege, rather than try to "eliminate" my privilege, I think it is "better" to leverage that privilege in space/places where I may have access to that others do not. PTA meetings, my employment, city planning, country clubs, churches and more. Its unfortunately a reality that the message is often perceived differently based on the messenger. Because of supremacy, implicit bias and patriarchy white males are often afforded more latitude & "authority" despite the message being no different than those delivered previously by countless people (in particular women) of color.
I think there are a myriad of ways to do this - all depends on your comfort level & position. You can ask questions about diversity hiring practices, and opportunities for marginalized persons in your work environment. You could find subtle ways like putting up #BlackLivesMatter sign on your computer or home (invite a dialog). You could question city officials about practices and procedures to ensure inclusiveness at planning meetings.
I have been desiring to replicate the effectiveness of Black Brunch, but conducted by white people in white spaces. I think a great analogous opportunity would be for white people to disrupt primarily white community sporting events. Think #RacismIsNotAGame where white activists stop a HS soccer game for 4.5 minutes & discuss specifics like the schools history text books in use, the diversity in the community, staffing and more. I have discussed this with white people that are "in alignment" with #BlackLivesMatter but so far none are willing to take this somewhat more confrontational approach. I see how successful Black Brunch has been - and when every white person I ask to join me in this action bulges their eyes and says "whoa...I'm not sure about that" - that tells me it is the perfect action. If you embark on this type of action please let me know.
I think whatever you do, be conscious, informed & speak truth to power. Do not equivocate, be heard.
P.S. Any white folks in the suburbs of Philly (New Jersey) that want to take on this type of action please DM me
As a business owner and spokesperson I am struggling with my personal convictions and the job requirement of keeping my mouth shut. Do you perceive any way a business person can participate in social justice without drawing racist scrutiny of their business & partners?
This ones tough for me as I'm fortunate to work for a great company/employer and I work from my home. I don't have the same impediments you've described.
I've worked on a variety of projects where some really valuable support has come from people in situations like yours. A graphic designer donated their time/skills, a lawyer donated their office space. I'm not sure what your business is, but perhaps there's a way to provide your skill/expertise to groups/organizations supporting the black lives matter movement. Find a way to contribute in anyway that you can. You can even just bringing pizza or food to meetings or coffee to protesters anonymously. Often these small gestures that show you're aware & care & thinking of the movement can have more impact than you'd think.
You can also talk discretely with people one on one and gauge their receptiveness & try to engage in dialog. You can dispel or stop negative narratives & discussions with a simple "I don't agree" and leave it at that. You might be able to inquire about your company/industries employment practices and push to have more minority representation.
I guess what I mean to say is, there are many ways to support the movement & for a variety of reasons one or more activities might not be right for you - that's ok. Find those activities where you can participate and concentrate on those activities as best you can.
Thanks for asking & thanks for anything you may be able to do to support the black lives matter movement.