Dear White Sister

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Dear White Sister,

It is time we have a heart to heart. We need to talk about race. I know. You may not want to talk about it, especially with a black woman, but we need this to happen if we are going to move forward.

I need you to really listen.

Your fear of conflict helps keep the status quo. Your desire for niceness is literally helping to keep me unsafe.

Your need to equate raising a difficult issue, like white supremacy, with being impolite or rude or out of line helps keep white supremacy securely in place.

When people on the margins don’t speak in a language or tone you find acceptable, you use that as an excuse to not address the issue at all.

I know you have thought it.

Why did they have to use those words.

Why must they protest that way?

Who gets to decide what is nice and acceptable? Who decides what is palatable?

You have been fed the lie that you have the right to emotional and psychological comfort over my freedom from an oppressive system.

That is just not true.

If I can walk down the street literally scared for my wellbeing and other black people every day, then you can be uncomfortable and have difficult conversations about race.

If I can watch black bodies being destroyed every day, then you can risk being wrong or making a mistake when talking about race.

You won’t die from anger, guilt or criticism. You may FEEL unsafe.

I literally am unsafe.

This may seem harsh, but I want you to understand what I feel every day, not to punish or shame you, but to share with you the urgency of this struggle.

Do you have any idea how many times a day black folks feel unsafe and unwelcome as they navigate their world? When they go get coffee at the local coffee shop, when they catch the bus to work, when they get followed around the pharmacy, when they walk home from work, when they drive to the laundromat.

Of course you don’t. I actually don’t want you to. I don’t wish this on anyone.

This system is broken and y’all can fix it. White women can fix it. Y’all can fix it by helping to dismantle a system you benefit from. How, you ask?

You do that by stop valuing control and comfort. They have become idols of the middle class

You do it by speaking up in all white spaces. You do it by calling out anti-blackness language and behavior everywhere you see it, every time you see it. At work. At home. At church.

Value justice and kindness. Value love and compassion. Value sacrifice. Value difficult conversations. We do not live in a frictionless society, what are you willing to sacrifice to help your brown brothers and sisters find liberation?

I invite you to stand with me.

So when you hear me talk about white supremacy I am not calling you, the white individual, a white supremacist.

When you hear me talk about racism I am not calling you, the white individual, a racist.

I am talking about systems that are built upon a hierarchy that you benefit from.

Learn to deal with the pain and stress of these conservations and these terms.

Because if I am being honest I actually don’t care about the subjectivity of you being a good or bad person.

I don’t care about your collective feelings.

I care about fighting oppression and getting free.

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Desiree Adaway
Desiree is a consultant, strategist, coach, speaker, storyteller and explorer. She uses her superpowers–her voice, sense of adventure and belief in the transformative power of community–to help organizations design programs that create unrestricted revenue, volunteers and advocates. You can find out more about her at www.desireeadaway.com, or follow her on Twitter at @desireeadaway
Desiree Adaway
Desiree Adaway

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