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How COVID-19 Helped Me with Racism

self-awareness Jun 08, 2020

As a White man, I don’t know what it is to NOT be White. My boys are Brown, adopted from the Philippines. I don’t know what it is to be Brown or adopted.

My nephews are Black and adopted, I don’t know what it is to be either. But I do know there’s an uncertainty that is part of fear for the future of these boys.

It's a fear of unpermitted opportunities. A fear of prejudiced judgments. A fear of aggression against. A fear of unfair standards.

It’s a fear I DO NOT hold for myself as a White man. But it’s a very real fear for them. Why? The color of their skin.

As a White man, COVID-19 has helped me to understand racism.

You see, when restrictions and lockdowns were first announced due to COVID-19, I complied but inwardly resisted the control on me. (This is so typical of my Enneagram Type 9.)

Who are THEY to tell me what to do?

By THEY I meant government officials and well, the virus itself. Who are THEY to restrict my life? I had plans I had made, a routine I enjoyed, a life running the way I liked it.

Now THEY are changing everything without my say. THEY are making judgements against me. THEY are making choices for me.

But THEY don’t even know me, government officials and this virus.

But it didn’t take long for THEY to spread. Soon THEY became the people all around me:

  • I went to the grocery store and people steered clear of me with vigilant and suspicious looks like I was going to give them the virus if they got too close.
  • I walked my dog around the lake and people stood way off the path to let me pass should I pass the virus onto them.
  • I wished to meet up with people I love, and they turned me down in case I was a carrier. (This was hard for my Relator Strength.)

Wherever I went, judgements were made against me: He’s harmful, he’s dangerous, he’s a threat.

Wherever I went, decisions were made for me: Don’t get too close, walk away, you can’t do this.

The presumption was fear, the position was resistance, the pronouncement was guilt, even though I never did anything to them.

Isn’t this how racism works? We make judgements against others because of the color of their skin. We make decisions for them without even knowing them. This is unfoundedly unfair, inhumanely unhuman, but it happens within the twinkling of an eye.

As a White man, I don’t know what it is to NOT be White. But thanks to COVID-19, I understand a little more what it’s like to be judged against and decided for without my say. And maybe that understanding will, in me, interrupt that insidious twinkling should it happen.

Life is hard enough without unfair and inhumane judgements against us. So, give others the same thing you would want—presumption of trust, position of welcome, pronouncement of innocence.

Oh, what a wonderful future that would be for us and our children!

Note: Even though I resisted, thank you to the government officials for wanting to keep us safe.

We recorded a webinar to explore how Enneagram and Strengths can help toward racial equality. Click to watch.

 

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