By: Amanda Regas
I am struggling to put words down.
My brain is on fire to hold a conversation that is certain to stir uncomfortable feelings.
What I want is the ability to construct a sentence that offers respect and compassion to all involved parties.
When I begin to write, it comes out as tears, anger, and begging. And then I know I have written too loudly to be heard.
So, I pen it out meekly, hoping to build the trust of my reader long enough for them to feel safe with my words as they sink into the cracks.
However, when I try that gentle path, a fire ignites in my belly and upends my emotions. I am sickened by my delicate handling of a situation that merits depth and lamenting.
So, I won’t write it to you.
I will write about myself. And then share how I plan to make myself a better human.
Racism is rooted deeply within me.
I am a friend to the underdog—full of compassion, kind, sensitive, service-oriented, and racist.
And I have been complicit towards the struggles of people of color.
Why is this important? Because I honestly did not know. I respect people of color, root for them, and understand slavery still holds an impact on their lives now.
However, they did not need me cheering them on.
I needed to speak up and actively work to break down the systems that, knowingly or not, continue to impact people of color.
If I wanted an honest education, I needed to examine the narrative behind what I believed was historical truth.
I needed to use my privilege as my platform.
The truth is that systemic racism impacts not only people of color but all of us—and every single day.
No matter where we stand, no matter our political leanings, I think in general, many of us agree that society is not how we want it to be.
We may all drink out of the same water fountains, but the old ways remain deeply rooted in our systems. Until adequately addressed, we cannot sort things out for people of color or our country.
There is a weekly creed recited in the church called the Confiteor. Praying the Confiteor is a way to ask for forgiveness. It is not a granting of forgiveness—it is sacramental, not a sacrament—it merely asks for it.
People say this creed weekly because we know sin is a part of the human experience, and remembering that keeps us aware of our humanity. When sin becomes invisible to us, that is when people get hurt, and we become lost people. So we keep confronting our truth each week.
Lately, I have thought of the words often:
I confess to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault,
through my fault,
through my most grievous fault.
I prayed these words today, directing them at people of color.
I am in the process of sitting in my discomfort as I learn from respected and gifted teachers and professors (not Instagram celebrities) immersing myself in the books and lectures they recommend. I have become a member of an online racial healing non-profit group that demands three months of silence from new members, as our job is to listen, observe, and contemplate the discussions. During this contemplative time, we are expected to complete the required modules to prepare ourselves further before we enter into the conversation. An astute model, as it confronts my need to show up hot, ready to burn down a room, and creates space instead for my big feelings to be felt and not thrown at people. They are mine to sit with alone.
I expect the three months to include hurt, confusion, understanding, sadness, loneliness, defensiveness, breakthroughs, anger, disbelief, sympathy, and contrition.
These are my promises to people of color:
I will not write about this as an opportunity to participate in trendy toe-dipping social justice.
I will not do this work for attention, as you would smell the disingenuous nature of that work from a mile away.
And I will not pretend to understand what I do not because that is how I came to be such an asset to systemic racism.
I may have contributed to the systemic continuation of racism, but my children will not.
I will mess up often.
That’s about all I can promise right now.
That and this: I am sorry for what I have done and what I have failed to do.