This work is HARD, y'all, but I've been sharing my journey with you, and part of the journey includes the missteps along the way. I was coming off of an amazing two days of training with Teaching Tolerance literally the day before this happened - including "Facilitating Critical Conversations." I love their Speak Up pocket guide as a quick reminder to think about how to stop or change a conversation. I was feeling SOOO good about it, like I really have the right tools in my toolbox to have tough conversations about race; to be able to educate and speak up without alienating. But in that particular moment there was no educating or seeking to understand. It was quick shutdown, disbelief, and dismissal. My quick jump to soapbox about the definition of racism and its necessary ties to systemic injustice rendering reverse racism impossible (because it doesn't have the weight of a power structure behind it) was not what was needed in that space, but I was so caught of guard by such a bold and misinformed statement I didn't stop to think first.
I can only seek to do better next time, but I wanted to share my story in an effort to keep my journey toward being a strong advocate for anti-racism and social justice an honest one. I've replayed a hundred options for how I might have handled this differently in my head since that evening, but I'm curious, what would you have done?