One of the projects of Century of Compassion is the RECK Pact page on Facebook. The page is meant to inspire people to treat all people with Respect, Empathy, Compassion, and Kindness (RECK). I serve as the moderator of this page and create many of the posts that appear there.
On Saturday, I typed up a post that seemed innocent enough. I had done a few posts encouraging White people to empathize with Black people during this time in which protests have been happening all around the country and even in different parts of the world (Black Lives Matter protests). I had even shared a blog post from this blog there. My idea with this particular post was to dream of a future in which all White people treated People of Color with RECK. It seems highly factual to me that we simply aren’t there, yet (see below for more on this).
The post looked/looks like this:
The broad variety of responses to this post have been educational for me. The first round of comments the post received seemed to imply that I was a racist for mentioning White people specifically, instead of saying all people. So, I commented that I was a White person speaking to my fellow White people, and that seemed to help ease that concern.
Still, the most persistent comment I’ve continued to receive is “it goes both ways.” This, I believe, is fair to say in the broad view of nurturing positive change in all aspects of society. However, I feel that within the context of what is happening in our nation right now, it kind of misses the point.
Please allow me to explain. I certainly don’t mean to upset anyone. What I’m trying to express, and what I meant with the original post is that changing the systems that are harming people of color is work that we White people must do. It seems like People of Color could be as absolutely respectful, empathetic, compassionate, and kind as humanly possible and it’s not going to initiate the kind of systemic change our nation needs so that we will stop harming People of Color, most specifically, Black people. After all, that’s what these protests are about: helping to save the lives of Black people.
For me, the emphasis of this post was on positive change. Again, it seems highly factual to me that not all White people treat People of Color with respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness. I believe that thinking of all people as equal is a step in that direction. I believe that rejecting White Nationalism is a step in that direction. These are things I’ve written about in the past.
Of course, no one should have to be familiar with all of my writing in order to “get” one of our RECK Pact posts. Still, I believe that positive change is something we all want. And in order to get that kind of change regarding race in the United States, then we White people – all of us (if we haven’t already) – are going to need to change the way we think about and treat People of Color.
Here’s why. Let’s use a slightly different analogy. For example, in order to prevent sexism towards women, we men must learn to think of and treat all women with RECK. That would make a HUGE difference! The reverse cannot be said. Even if all women treated all men with RECK, it would do little to change sexism towards women. Men must do the work of preventing sexism against women and White people must do the work of preventing racism and oppression against People of Color.
This is work that White people can’t and probably shouldn’t do alone. We should do it in partnership and community with People of Color. Personally, I believe that it would be really positive if President Trump would meet with Black leaders right now. I think that would be highly respectful. Of course, no one is asking for my opinion about what the President should be doing.
Here’s the thing, folks! There is no “us” and “them.” There is only one human race. We are all siblings on this big, beautiful, blue/green orb. We need to ease our feelings towards one another. We need to let go of hate and do our best to love one another – even when we are working hard to try to improve things.
It would be my dream to have everyone who reads this post say, “Wow, you know, he’s right.” But maybe some people aren’t ready to hear this message yet. So, I will leave you with this: Work to soften your heart. Do your best to empathize with everyone – even people who are very different from you. Love yourself and try your best to others.
Founder, Century of Compassion