Dear God, I know I asked for help
Paying attention to how racism lives in me
– I am shocked at what I notice from time to time –
If I were not paying attention
Would these reactions, impulses, thoughts
Be conscious? Would they drive my behavior unaware?
Example: walking in my neighborhood
I see some women wearing headscarf’s and hijabs,
Men and women,
women and women,
Kids and parents,
People with dogs,
Recently I saw two Black men walking
Toward me. That’s unusual. Not
That they were Black,
I might see one, or a male and female couple,
But two Black men out walking?
Not common in this neighborhood.
And my instant internal reaction
Was my heart rate increased,
Like I was somehow being threatened.
It was a ridiculous reactive impulse
That tells me that I have internalized
Well the message the Black men are
Consciously I do not believe this.
I mean I do not believe that Black men
Are any more of a potential threat than a white man.
As a woman, I have been trained to be on
Alert with any man…but I don’t think
My heart rate increases when I encounter
A white man, I just stay observant,
Slightly on edge.
As I walked past those two men
I smiled. Or maybe I grimaced.
I meant to smile and am not sure
If my face reflected what I meant,
Or revealed the revelation I was
They were busy talking and never
Looked my way.
In the years I have been doing this work
On myself, to notice and disentangle
The web of racism in me and to
Live more authentically the
Values I claim, That all people are beloved
All people are equal, all people are people
All people all people,
I know there will be more experiences
That shock me. That is what happens
When oneself is revealed to one’s self.
And it is the only way to begin to change.
God help me in this, to see ever more clearly
And to continue the work to dismantle racism
In me and reconcile the broken places in me.
Terri Pilarski is an Episcopal priest in Dearborn, MI who blogs at seeking authentic voice.blogspot.com. She’s been a member of the RegGalBlogPals since 2006.
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