I didn't spend the night on a plantation discussing slavery and race so I could "learn and grow." Not the way I used to think of those words.
I spent the night to embody listening and understanding. I spent the night to honor those who resisted and survived. I spent the night to meet and support the Black leaders who keep this history alive.
Growing up as a white person (colonizer), you come to think of "learning and growing" as ways of amassing resources - knowledge and skills - to yourself. Increasing your value in the marketplace or heightening your status.
In our country we hardly know of other ways to talk about education.
When we approach learning about other cultures, Black and Indigenous history, or racial justice from that standpoint - we are still acting from colonial impulses. We're still trying to extract information or accolades so we can "get better." Often that's our starting place. But when we truly listen, we're being asked to move beyond our habits of objectifying teachers and learners, others and ourselves.
We have to stop trying to learn and grow and accept the difficult journey of being transformed. We have to stop believing we can pull "takeaways" out of the context of relationship.
And we have to put down the rubric of "success" or leadership and trust that there is beauty in becoming a follower, a supporter, a quiet ally and an unnoticed laborer.
Given how deeply I believe this, I don't always know how to talk about the ways I'm "learning and growing" around race. Yet I'm grateful for the online conversations I've gotten to be a part of and I want them to continue. So here I am, finally showing up imperfect and unready.
What are you learning these days? What are you scared of in these conversations?
P.S. if you missed it, the whole thing is in my Stories, including tags for AMAZING Black leaders you need to follow right now!