I found myself introduced to the world of audiobooks. I'm not going to lie - I've been really hesitant to try audiobooks because I pride myself on being a reader. And readers read with their eyes! Right? I have also trained in speed reading, and the slow pace of audiobooks annoyed me at first. I knew that if I picked up the paper book, I could move through it three or four times as fast. But, I realized, I am listening to youtube videos and news clips all the time, and I don't chastise myself for not reading the transcript instead to save time. Time, I had. So I embraced audiobooks, and I fell in love. Not only could I listen to them while I was walking, but also driving, washing the dishes, cooking dinner. Think about how much time I wasted not reading over the years!
The next audiobook I tackled was White Fragility, which I had read about on Facebook. This book was written by an anti-racism workshop leader who would go to businesses to help them understand why diversity in their workforce was escaping them. It was more an informational text than a narrative one, although the anecdotes were wonderful.
From these two books, I learned so much. I learned what "white culture" is. I had always assumed that culture was something other people had, but my family and society were just "normal." Values like optimism, efficiency, frugality, individualism, meritocracy - these are aspects of white culture and are not necessarily universal, as I had assumed. (I am hoping, in my further study, to understand the chicken-egg relationship between white culture and dominant culture, since obviously these traits are not exclusive to white people.)
I also learned the "symptoms" of white fragility. These are things like binary thinking - a belief that racism is an intentional hurtful act: racists are bad, so if I'm a good person, I cannot be racist. The resulting defensiveness, "I am the least racist person you have ever met!" Trying to absolve oneself from the racial discussion: "I've been in an interracial marriage for ten years, so I cannot be racist." A focus on intention instead of impact: "He didn't mean it like that." Bringing the focus of attention back to the white person through anger or crying, which detracts from the actual discussion of race at hand or the offense to the person of color.
Next, I read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas which was my choice of the assigned summer reading choices from my school. Having just read Waking Up White and White Fragility, I was in such a good place to read this book. The story is about a teenage girl, Starr, who witnesses her unarmed, black, teenage friend killed by a police officer during a traffic stop. Throughout the story, Starr dates a white boy and struggles with a white best friend. In this post, I would like to examine a few moments from The Hate You Give that I felt were enhanced by my slightly-more-"woke" position as a white person, reading this book.
In Part 2, I will examine Hailey, Starr's problematic white friend.