Course: Anti-Black Racism in the U.S. and Building a Unified Society (Summer 2022)
Faculty Mentor: Nicola Daniels
Learning Self-Assessment by Tinker Lindsay
I have greatly deepened and broadened my understanding of Anti-Black Racism as a result of this course. I knew next to nothing about the subject, particularly as it pertained to our history as a country. Now I feel I have a much greater understanding, including the fact that my ignorance, as an Ivy-League educated and privileged WASP from the East Coast, was by design. In this way (learning all that I didn’t know, and unearthing many blind spots) I accomplished one major goal of taking this course. As far as the personal goal—to regain trust from my Black son-in-law and white daughter so that I can again have a steady and ongoing relationship with my two grand-daughters—that is still a work in progress. But at least I am ready and willing to apologize for my insensitivity and obliviousness regarding the challenges my daughter’s partner has faced, and my grand-daughters will face, growing up Black in this country.
I have had so many insights and enlightening moments. Here are some key takeaways:
* The “invention” of the notion of “White” as a legal justification for power- and greed-grabs.
* The immense economic impact of slavery and indentured servitude both in the South AND the North.
* The Jim Crow aspect of our contemporary Criminal Justice System.
* The origin of Black Lives Matter and why it is not personality-based, but rather founded on principles.
* The concept of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome and Joy Degruy’s impactful and compassionate presentation of the ways in which slavery still affects Blacks psychologically and emotionally in this country.
* Intersectionality—what it is, how it works.
I now feel better equipped—actually better educated across the board—to discuss and debate the subject of anti-Black racism. I also feel braver—more willing to speak up, and challenge my family members, work colleagues, and friends who have not had the benefit of taking this course. I have recommended this course to many members of the above communities.
Racism feels much more personal to me now. The outrage is new, and also the determination to wade into the center of this crisis and be a part of the solution. I feel a strong spiritual and personal commitment to taking action, and that is new.
I don’t think there has been a change in my beliefs, but I do think I am now prioritizing racism as a terrible ongoing crisis in this country—a crisis that I need to actively, not passively, address every day. That is a change in values. Also, my behavior has changed. My awareness has changed. I am self-consciously promoting and inviting deeper and more meaningful interactions with Blacks and others who have been disenfranchised and experience racism on a daily basis. I am doing my very best to become an ally, and not an ongoing part of the problem.
I will continue to actively invite more Black and BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and people of color] speakers to share at my weekly recovery meeting. I have changed the way I share when I take recovery panels into jails and institutions, as the majority of attendees are BIPOC. I am much more careful with my words, assumptions, and behaviors around the BIPOC community, and much more likely to challenge others who are showing the same insensitivity that I used to display—not consciously, but consistently.
I am talking openly, and humbly, to my family and friends about this subject, sharing my new insights, and inviting them into deeper discussions. I also hope to keep reading and learning and educating myself. I don’t want this to slide into the background. I plan to keep learning, and becoming more actively involved in the ongoing mission to remove this stain on our history, armed with deep compassion and love, but also determination and a clear-eyed view of the challenges before us all.
I am so grateful to the Wilmette Institute, the individual teachers and creators of this course, and the entire Bahá’í community for this fantastic entry-point into a profoundly important subject. You put in all the hours of work so that I could reap the benefits. It has really been an amazing learning experience, and I can’t thank you enough.