In the U.S. we take pride in looking after one another. That is, as long as people look like us, act like us, speak like us, and follow the rules we put in place to preserve law and order. In other words, maintaining our power and authority.

 

When people who don’t look, act or speak like us challenge the structures imposed by those in power and authority, actions are taken to keep them in their place. Our privilege, invisible but expected, creates the dynamic of ‘us’ versus them. And because we hold the power and call the shots, any threat to our dominance is cause for fear, retaliation, and further repression. Thus continues the sad and tortuous history of our nation. Despite our efforts to erase truth and perpetuate myths of justice for all, the call to freedom continues  through acts of rebellion, uprising and violence to end violence.

 

To be clear, the “us” I am speaking of is white America, one of my many identities, to which I might add male. The tremendous wealth disparities around us and throughout the world make our feigned ignorance impossible to sustain. We are no longer numb to this reality but remain frozen in acknowledging our part. We deny ownership, accountability and action to redress the glaring inequities which race and poverty have wrought.

 

The blogs which follow are personal explorations of how I and we have gotten here, how we might take in the enormity of it all. We have to learn to sit with it, painful as that is. We need guidance in how to own it, heal from the damage done to all of us and regain our full collective humanity. We must find a path to step out of guilt by fully embracing it. And we must struggle as we learn to leverage the power and privilege afforded to us to create a just and equitable society that includes everyone.

 

To do so requires that we face our fear, our pretense and guilt. Empowering others begins with empowering ourselves, humbly and openly. It means being vulnerable enough to end the distance that keeps us from each other.  Each of us carries a glimmer of what a just community looks like. It is as much a collective journey as a solitary one. I invite you to walk this journey with me. We have much to learn as we re-envision a U.S. that embraces, values, respects and takes pride in all of us.

 

May 30, 2020

Steven Jarose