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Painful Self-Reflection

I have always been a peacemaker. In my world, things were not quite right unless everyone was getting along. I have made conscious choices not to take sides, discuss politics, and treat others with respect.

Speaking out, or saying something controversial goes against my personal identity, it’s uncomfortable, it causes pain, I don’t like it.

As a recent counseling graduate, I have learned self-reflection is an integral part of my job. In my opinion, I have to be able to accept everyone. To do this, I had to get deeply in touch with my own biases. Realizing I had biases was an excruciating activity.

When I am in a counseling session, I sometimes feel like a detective. As my clients share their stories, I listen for clues.

The clues are what shape the person sitting in front of me.

Most of the clues involve what happened during their childhood. Many are obvious. If you were beaten, put into foster care, sexually abused, this will impact your future life.

As I start finding the clues, I determine the best treatment approach. I am still new to counseling, and I frequently need to research treatments. Since finishing graduate school, research is no longer mandatory, and I can enjoy it. I love studying and expanding my knowledge.

My ability to research has changed the way I approach life too. When I read something or hear something on the news, I don’t accept it at face value. I always fall back on the need for scholarly references.

Who provided this information? Are they qualified as an expert? Can they back up their statements with facts? Of course, I think I have become adept at identifying questionable information. But I don’t want to be lulled into complacency, so I like to keep digging until I find facts.

As a white woman, I’ve recently sought to learn more about the concepts of racism and white privilege. My search began as part of my education. Still, the recent news stories involving the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd and the entitled behavior of Amy Cooper have added a sense of urgency to my attempts to understand.

As I have increased my knowledge, I have realized racism will continue until people like me speak out. I am white, educated, privileged, and, until now, non-controversial.

I am a widow who has written about my struggle with grief, and I believe my small circle of followers respects me. That same circle might give me a voice I wouldn’t otherwise have. I don’t want to be an activist, and I would prefer to blend into the background, but that is why I can’t.

I am doing this in spite of the pain and turmoil it will cause me.

And I hope realizing my discomfort will encourage my fellow white people to do more than listen to what I say. I challenge you to absorb the words I and others share, open your mind, and conduct your research. Recognizing your role in racial injustice won’t be easy.

White privilege and entitlement are not comfortable subjects and you may not like what you find out.

Please understand I am speaking out against racism. I am talking about the unnecessary deaths of Ahmaud, George, and so many others. My words are not about the use of force, protests, or rioting. Those are all symptoms. Racism is the cause.

Many of you will want to co-opt my speech with your own stories. I get this makes it easier for you to live with your inaction. If your response includes the word BUT, I want to stop you right there.

BUT NOTHING.

Black people are dying because we live in a country with a history of racism. Black people are dying because those who benefit from white privilege don’t want to step out of our comfortable lives and speak out.

My hope is I make you uncomfortable.

I am a former Republican who voted for Donald Trump. Yes, that was me. I am on ALL of your sides, so don’t place me into the same category you have reserved for all people who disagree with you. My argument isn’t about politics; it’s about racism.

If you disagree with me, I am happy to respond to any rational arguments, if you can find a way to make them without using the word BUT. More to come.

Widow, Mother, Wife, Associate Professional Clinical Counselor. Recovering Republican trying to find my way. https://www.danellt9.com/

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