Please call me out when I unwittingly violate the rules of antiracist discourse*
I want to be corrected. Being corrected invites me to grow in knowledge and thoughtfulness. I do not regard correction on terms or ideas as mean or undeserved. Instead, it is a gift. I crave knowledge that enables me to help create understanding among all peoples, and by that begins to fill the chasm between us. I promise to share it with other white people seeking to understand better.
No matter how painful a correction might be, no matter how much it may challenge my sense of self as a sincere antiracist (not to mention an informed, well-read person), I will accept correction graciously. Even if the correction is spoken in anger. I do not expect black people or people of color to be concerned about whatever pain I might feel in response to corrections. I own those feelings; they are mine to fix.
Even if my first reaction is to feel I’ve been misunderstood or misjudged as well. No matter how I might feel about it (and I have experienced some very painful corrections, with lots of tears falling in private, in the aftermath), I’ll survive, learn from and appreciate the lesson, and will maintain our friendship if allowed. I’ll be grateful for the education no matter how my defensiveness leaves me feeling. No matter how deeply or long I may hurt. No matter how long I cry (in my own personal space) after the fact.
That is pain that, for the privileged who need to be seen as “good folk,” must accompany real social change. We privileged must yield our privileges if we are ever to form a society of true equality.
I promise to listen without opposition and ask only genuine (as opposed to passive-aggressive) questions in response to any criticism along those lines graciously, and gratefully, with no animosity; and I will cope with any residual feelings on my own later. The knowledge of conditions and my place within them that I receive in the process is a gift I will cherish.
It wasn’t very long ago that, like so many other liberal white people, I felt I had to defend myself, tossing my antiracist credentials into the mix like every other white person who felt attacked….