A few years ago, a fellow organizer called me out for being racist.

I came into an organizing space with a big idea for making change.

However, I never fully vetted the idea with a Latina leader in the community who had already been working hard to create change.

She saw an eager white woman (me) barging in without understanding or appreciating the work she and her comrades were doing.

Whether my intentions were “positive” or not, my actions hurt.

She called a fellow organizer and me out and asked us to stop the campaign we were organizing.

After the meeting, in tears, I debriefed the conversation with a white colleague, and this is what he told me:

As white citizens, we have a whole lot of privilege that grants us access, attention, and safety.

However, one of the privileges that we don’t have is assuming the trust of any Black, Indigenous, or Latina organizers or person of color.

There are plenty of good reasons that BIPOC folks might not trust white people, plenty of good reasons why this Latina organizer did not trust me, plenty of good reasons why the BS detector of people of color might be on high alert when listening to a white person sharing all their great intentions.

If we want someone’s trust, we need to earn it by slowly building right relationship.

And, we need to move at the speed of trust, not barging in with an urgency that arises from white supremacy culture in the first place.

Sure, being called out was painful for me.

Receiving hard-to-hear feedback almost always is.

And yet, I am profoundly grateful for the lesson this moment taught me.

As white people, if we show up in movements for social change, we will be called out.

We can choose to protect our fragile feelings and keep our gloves clean.

Or we can get in the ring, get dirty, get bruised a bit, dust ourselves off, stand back up, and keep learning.

I believe that dismantling racism is white peoples’ responsibility, so I choose the latter.

I’m curious to hear how this lands with you and what lessons you may have learned from being called out.

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