It's Ok to Start with Me

It's no secret that I feel passionate about social justice. Often this manifests in rights for the LGBTQI community, as seen in my previous post. It's a little easier for me to engage in conversations about gay rights because the usual arguments against them are biblical. I was raised in that world and know how to live outside of the ideology that perpetuates restricting the freedoms of others we don't know and don't understand. Things get a little grittier when I try to advocate for the rights of racial minorities. For one, I grew up very sheltered and very white. So while I think of myself as an ally and care deeply about social justice for racial minorities, I also know that for me to really be an advocate, I must learn and I must listen. 
With gay rights, I don't know what it's like to be gay but I feel I have a good understanding of the mindset of the opposition. In instances of racial injustice, I don't understand either side. I care very deeply and believe undoubtedly that #blacklivesmatter but I am not black. I don't understand what it's like to be black in this country. I'm trying to acknowledge my white privilege and I'm trying to listen when black people (and all racial minorities) tell us what it's like to be them. That is such a huge part of this for me, to listen to the stories people want to tell me. What I'm still surprised by and grieved by is that this attitude of wanting to sit in the reality of my privilege and set aside whatever it takes to level the playing field for everyone is not as common as I assume. I feel like I've had my ass handed to me on racial justice issues of late. Mainly because I've chosen to disengage when it's clear the person is not listening and does not come at these issues in the same way as I do. So when I engage thinking, this person wants to learn, they just need to listen, and they yell and scream a lot of realities that just aren't true, I choose to walk away. It's not because screaming back isn't necessary. I sometimes wonder if I'm failing when I disengage. Such is the culture of online conversation. Whoever rants the most appears on top. 
But I try really hard to keep my emotions in check when I discuss things of social importance online and if I'm screaming, I'm not listening either. Sometimes when I listen to the other side, it's devastating. I'm genuinely depressed and disgusted by the things I've heard lately. I'm really surprised that people want to believe that white privilege, racism and police brutality are media tricks and old news. I'm truly baffled. More so, my rose-colored glasses approach (assigning positive intent, giving information with respect, assuming people want to learn) is really not working here. At this point, I want to acknowledge the victory I've had in choosing to disengage and not scream back. But I'm really sad. And even saying that I'm surprised by the level of racism around me is evidence of my privilege. It is not new information to the many who have fought on the front lines for a lifetime. For me, engaging in this fight is a choice, a passion that I could walk away from at any time (theoretically). That is not possible for anyone who physically presents as a minority. That is enough for me to allow my anger to reinforce the necessity of these conversations and to know that it's not up to me to change people's minds. I can start with me. That'll have to be enough for now.