I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown

“I don’t know what to do with what I’ve learned,” she said. “I can’t fix your pain, and I can’t take it away, but I can see it. And I can work for the rest of my life to make sure your children don’t have to experience the pain of racism.” And then she said nine words that I’ve never forgotten: “Doing nothing is no longer an option for me.”

p. 58, A white woman on her tour bus

Hello Everyone! I just finished this incredible book by Austin Channing Brown, a Black woman that gave me so much to think about as a white woman from her life story and from the history of treatment of Black people. This book is another must-read for EVERYONE, especially those that want to become allies for Black people and how want to be part of the antiracism movement. I hope you learn and takeaway something from the quotes in this post; and that you’ll pick up this book and glean wisdom from it on your own life adventure. đŸ™‚ ,3

“I am trying to clarify what it’s like to exist in a Black body in an organization that doesn’t understand it is not only Christian but also white. But instead of offering empathy and action, whiteness finds new names for me and offers ominous advice. I am too sensitive, and should be careful with what I report. I am too angry, and should watch my tone when I talk about my experiences. I am too inflexible, and should learn to offer more grace to people who are really trying. It’s exhausting.” (p. 20)

“White people who expect me to be white have no yet realized that their cultural way of being is not in fact the result of goodness, rightness, or God’s blessing. Pushing back, resisting the lie, is hella work.” (p. 20)

“It can be dangerous for Black women to attempt to carve out space for themselves–their perspective, their gifts, their skills, their education, their experiences–in places that haven’t examined the prevailing assumption of white culture. The danger of letting whiteness walk off with our joy, our peace, our sense of dignity and self-love, is ever present. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Togetherness across racial lines doesn’t have to mean the uplifting of whiteness and harming of Blackness.” (p. 21)

“White supremacy is a tradition that must be named and a religion that must be renounced. When this work has not been done, those who live in whiteness become oppressive, whether intentional or not.” (p. 22)

“My story is not about condemning white people but about rejecting the assumption–sometimes spoken, sometimes not–that white is right: closer to God, holy, chosen, the epitome of being.” (p. 23)

“Black is beautiful… […] Black is not monolithic. Black is expansive, and I didn’t need the approval of whiteness in order to feel good in my skin; there was no whiteness available to offer an opinion. It was freedom.” (p. 34)

“Resisting an education built on a white worldview meant constantly having to evaluate the risks of telling the truth or furthering the myth.” (p. 44)

“It’s a common conundrum for Black children navigating mostly white classrooms. It is often expected–both by the other students and by the teacher–that Black students will have no problem acting as the race experts for their classrooms.” (p. 48)

“Much of my teaching (and learning) managed to revolve around whiteness–white privilege, white ignorance, white shame, the things white folks “needed” in order to believe racial justice is a worthy cause.” (p. 60)

“Though I was often surrounded by whiteness, they reminded me that I was capable of responding to racist white people, and encouraged me to seek comfort in Black history and the healing of Black community.” (p. 65)

“Whiteness wants enough Blackness to affirm the goodness of whiteness, the progressiveness of whiteness, the openheartedness of whiteness. Whiteness likes a trickle of Blackness, but only that which can be controlled.” (p. 70)

“We must remind ourselves and on another that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, arming ourselves against the ultimate message of whiteness–that we are inferior. We must stare at ourselves in the mirror and repeat that we, too, are fully capable, immensely talented, and uniquely gifted. We are not tokens. We are valuable in the fullness of humanity. We are not perfect, but we are here, able to contribute something special, beautiful, lasting to the companies and ministries to which we belong.” (p. 79)

“…it became vital to remind myself daily of why I love being a Black girl: I am enlivened by our stories of survival. Even though white folks tried to steal our histories–our lives, our labor, our culture, our origins–we recover the records.” (p. 81)

“I love being a Black woman because we are demanding. We demand the right to live as fully human. We demand access–the right to vote, to education, to employment, to housing, to equal treatment under the law.” (p. 83)

“This is partly what makes the fragility of whiteness so damn dangerous. It ignores the personhood of people of color and instead makes the feelings of whiteness the most important thing.” (p. 89)

“White fragility protects whiteness and forces Black people to fend for themselves.” (p. 89)

“White people desperately want to believe that only the lonely, isolated “whites only” club members are racist. This is why the word racist offends “nice white people” so deeply. It challenges their self-identification as good people. Sadly, most white people are more worried about being called racist than about whether or not their actions are in fact racist or harmful.” (p. 104)

“…those who believe in white innocence don’t have enough of a knowledge base to participate meaningfully in the discussion. They haven’t educated themselves through books or courses. They are unfamiliar with the lexicon on race, not realizing their words have particular meanings.” (p. 105)

“White people really want this to be what reconciliation means: a Black person forgiving them for one racist sin.” (p. 110)

“Ultimately, the reason we have not yet told the truth about this history of Black and white America is that telling an ordered history of this nation would mean finally naming America’s commitment to violent, abusive, exploitative, immoral white supremacy, which seeks the absolute control of Black bodies. It would mean doing something about it.” (p. 116)

“Our only chance at dismantling racial injustice is being more curious about its origins than we are worried about our comfort.” (p. 117)

“We can survive honest discussions about slavery, about convict leasing, about stolen land, deportation, discrimination, and exclusion. We can identify the harmful politics of gerrymandering, voter suppression, criminal justice laws, and policies that disproportionately affect people of color negatively.” (p. 118)

“But words are hardly the worst of it. If we look at statistics and standards of living, we find a host of racial disparities that have persisted over decades–wages, home ownership, job accessibility, health care, treatment by law enforcement, and the list goes on…” (p. 120)

“It’s hard to be calm in a world made for whiteness.” (p. 121)

“We must always earn the right to live. Perfection is demanded of Blackness before mercy or grace or justice can even be considered. I refuse to live this way.” (p. 146)

“Suddenly racial justice and reconciliation wasn’t limited to Black and white church members; it became a living framework for understanding God’s work in the world.” (p. 147)

“But dialogue is productive toward reconciliation only when it leads to action–when it inverts power and pursues justice for those who are most marginalized.” (p. 169)

“White people need to listen, to pause so that people of color can clearly articulate both the disappointment they’ve endured and what it would take for reparations to be made.” (p. 170).

“Fortunately, Jesus doesn’t need all white people to get onboard before justice and reconciliation can be achieved. For me, this is freedom. Freedom to tell the truth. Freedom to create. Freedom to teach and write without burdening myself with the expectation that I can change anyone.” (p. 173)

“The march toward change has been grueling, but it is real. And all it has ever taken was the transformed–the people of color confronting past and present to imagine a new future, and the handful of white people willing to release indifference and join the struggle.” (p. 174)

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