I had a really good and necessary conversation with a good friend recently.
I was reminded that I held anti-blackness in me without even being conscious of it.
You see, I grew up in a home of immigrant parents who did their best but also held some biases that I was then taught. Although I prided myself on being able to see past what others fed me and befriended whomever I wanted to I still held anti-black beliefs in my unconscious.
For example, excusing or willfully ignoring racist comments and/or beliefs because I wanted to give people benefit of the doubt and in doing so not helping them or myself or my fellow Black friends. Another example, being ashamed of my culture because I went to church with a lot of white people and believed that something was wrong vehemently wrong with how we dressed, ate, talked, etc. I wanted so badly to fit a mold that would make me more acceptable to white people.
And even after all of that I was not immune to racist treatment. Somehow, I foolishly thought I was an exception because I was the epitome of doing things the “right” way in America, but that didn’t save me from being treated as less than.
I allowed white friends and non-black minority friends to say things about the Black Lives Matter movement that were not aligned with what the movement is even about. I shaped and rearranged myself to fit in spaces that were not created to hold people that look like me. I convinced myself that if I just smiled more, laughed at jokes that weren’t funny, kept silent when I should have spoken up, and awkwardly laughed when a racist joke was made because I didn’t want to be left out or seen as “too sensitive”. This is all rooted in anti-blackness and I participated.
There is a lot that I have had to unlearn and am continuing to unlearn and unpack as a Black immigrant Latter-Day Saint woman. There are a lot of layers that I am still sifting through. I certainly didn’t wake up aware of the atrocities Black Americans face so I too am facing hard truths and having conversations that are tough, but necessary. I didn’t even learn about anti-blackness until a few weeks ago and now I see it all over within the Black community and outside of it and within myself.
I am writing this for anyone else that feels a bit overwhelmed at everything you are learning about your country and about yourself right now. I am writing to let you know that you are not alone. I have shed more tears in the past month than I have in a while, but I am a crier so take that for what it is. I am writing this to let you know we’re in this together—the good, the bad, the ugly, and the painful.