Quick overview

All posts still in progress. If you have additions you want to suggest, please let me know in the comments or on twitter @schomj.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Acknowledging Whiteness, part 8: Silence is Complicity

This series has been an interesting reflective process for me. It's also been an interesting observational experience. The posts in this series have generally received a good number of hits, at least compared to the normal things I post. But compared to the normal things I post, I have received far fewer comments. The silence has been interesting.

Some of those few comments have been in praise of a given post (thanks Max!) but some of the comments have been expressions of white discomfort. Discomfort at the expectation that as white people they have a right or responsibility to call out racism. Let's pause a moment, and dwell on that; let's take a moment to experience discomfort right now.


I saw an article a few days about how sometimes when we talk about being lazy, what we're actually describing is fear, overwhelmedness, procrastination and avoidance driven by perfectionism.

Are we silent because we feel like we're not ready yet to speak out? Because we need to prepare more so when we do speak out, we don't mess up? Let me take this opportunity to remind you of April Hathcock's wonderful blog post called You're Gonna Screw Up.

You're never going to be ready. You're never going to be perfect. If you're lucky, you'll be good enough. Good enough is a reasonable goal.


I learn most effectively by trial and error. By screwing up, noticing where and how that screw-up happened, and watching to see what improvements are made the next time. This is how I learn/ed how to manage my diabetes, how I learn/ed how to write, how I learn/ed how to catalog. This is how I am learning to unravel the racism that was threaded into my being before I learned to talk. I fully expect -- no, I hope! -- that in 10 years I'll revisit this blog series and feel amused fondness for my past self and how much I still had to learn.

Because I know I'm not perfect. I know I make mistakes and missteps and that I stumble and fall both up and down the stairs. But at least I'm trying. And I'm not letting my fear of imperfection lure me into silence. Because for the people I care about, my silence in the face of systemic racism is more damaging than my stumbling attempts at building a more just society.


This is the end of this series, at least for the summer. Thanks to everyone who came along on this ride with me. If this has prompted you to write your own blog posts or engage in antiracism work in new or different ways, please drop me a line either in the comments or on twitter. Peace, love, and justice to you all.


  1. Thank you for this thought-provoking series, Jessica -- I was on vacation when you posted these and am just catching up now. It's good timing for me too, as I go back from a 6-month sabbatical leave tomorrow and have been thinking more about antiracist work in my library and non-library life. I've felt a bit stalled lately in active antiracist work, that is, outside of my own reading/thinking. These posts are a good reminder that I need to get my introvert self back to work. Thank you.