Dear Rebecca,

Thank you for your courage. As another writer, I didn’t wonder why you wrote this (as you said in your piece) rather I wish more people of color would be inspired to write like you have, if they have the strength, to share stories. Your story helps white people like me who have friends of many colors wonder “Why didn’t I know how regularly this was happening?” It isn’t easy to stop accepting injustice and to speak up. But you have done it.

Your story helps the rest of us feel, deeply, what you’ve endured while we’ve been having lives without racism directed toward us. Your piece documents how racism has been part of your entire experience as a human and why little actions like apologies or trite statements about equality aren’t enough. You show how deep change is needed, starting at the beginning.

My kids have come home sharing racist remarks they’ve heard at their private schools (in Switzerland but not in the U.S. where we lived prior to three years ago) that have stunned me. The school has explained that these statements often come from home and from deeply engrained beliefs that administrators can’t quickly undo. I hope that Swiss schools work toward zero tolerance for all racial comments as with all forms of bullying. Kids need intensive workshops in anti-racism and need to be sent home then workshopped again for all racial and discriminatory slurs.

There’s much work for us to do. I hope you keep talking and helping the rest of us figure out how to change one another, and the schools, businesses, and social systems that allow racist ideologies to prosper and discrimination to go unchecked.

I’m sorry for all that the injustices you’ve endured, for every time you’ve been wrongly accused, searched, been the recipient of racial slurs, asked to leave job interviews. I apologize for the loss of a positive and nurturing childhood and early education experience due to cruelty and ignorance by white people. It’s infuriating.

Having said this, I’m searching for appropriate ways, as a white woman, to do more than be furious or sad. I know that reading books and showing empathy and even showing up at protests aren’t nearly enough. Systems need to change and we’ve all got to pry at those systems, relentlessly, to be held accountable. Thanks so much for showing me and others that we’ve got much hard work to do for you and for that next child who needs to feel accepted, to be asked to dance.

https://www.amyaveschallenger.com/ American writer living in Switzerland. Contributor @Independent @WaPost, @Huffpost, @International Living , @Euronews & more

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