It started when I was in undergrad. An unhealthy relationship with non-white people. I did my undergraduate research on Native American issues. I concluded that decolonization is the answer, but I didn’t spell out what that means.
What was clear was this: I thought nothing could ever make right what had gone wrong for hundreds of years regarding non-white people.
This fact ate at me. I have never wanted to kill myself, but I wanted to die. Because I am white. I didn’t think I deserved anything good in life. I put up with various kinds of abuse and torment–sometimes in the name of race. No doubt, this behavior contributed to my psychotic episodes.
It’s been about 8 months since I set that chapter aside in my life. I now have a healthy new life. And a different relationship with race. I have gone back to the basics when it comes to race. And here’s what I conclude:
- See people as people first. I know they say not to be color blind. But we are all human beings first and foremost. Act that way.
- Stick up for non-white people when the time arises. That means, if someone is being attacked in some way due to race, speak up.
- Take race into consideration when it’s appropriate. There are times when race is relevant. It may be when a Native American has diabetes and you know that they have high rates of diabetes. It may be something else. You can see someone as a person without ignoring relevant race-related things.
This is my new relationship with race. I’m not saying it solves everything, but racism assumes that non-white people are less than human. Doing the three things above corrects for this. It also keeps you healthy and safe if you are white. Because undoing racism is not about obliterating white people or making them want to die. It’s about equal footing, friendship, solidarity and our shared humanity.