As a white person, I’m certainly not perfect. But more importantly, I’m also not evil! And talking to my therapist is a great reminder of the latter.
Nearly every week, I am reminded of the ways I benefit from and even contribute to racism. So I’m grateful to have a good therapist who can tell me that it’s really fine, just fine. People make mistakes! And specifically I continue to make the same mistake of benefitting from the racist structures of our society without challenging it in any way whatsoever. Come on; it doesn’t help anyone for me to start feeling guilty about it! That’s why I confess to my therapist and she absolves me completely.
You see, I have my own problems: Just last month I was asked my opinion about the potential promotion of one of two junior associates. They both have a great track record but I mentioned that Kira can seem a little abrasive while Louisa is more poised. Later my coworker pointed out that maybe as a white woman I’d found Louisa’s complaints about equal pay to be more digestible than Kira’s request for sensitivity training.
Yikes! I felt awful. Thankfully, I was able to talk it out with my therapist, Gail, who completely absolved me of guilt or the need to apologize to Kira or rectify the situation with my superiors who had given Louisa the promotion.
As Gail always says, “You’re more than your mistakes,” and I’m happy to be moving past mine quickly. Thanks again, Gail!
Another time I showed up in tears at Gail’s office because I’d just come from the jewelry store, where a salesperson waved me forward ahead of a black woman ahead of me. When the woman called it out and left the store angrily, I simply stood there with my eyebrows raised, unsure what to make of any of it.
Gail kindly asked me if I knew race was the reason I was able to cut in line, and truthfully I can’t say for sure. And then she touched my head, blessed me and sent me on my way. What a relief!
I don’t know what I’d do without therapy. Frankly, I think everyone should go. And I can’t really see any reason why they don’t!