I cringed, yet said nothing.
It was a quick comment about an entire ethnic group, spoken with a “just between us” kind of laugh. The kind I’ve heard a million times.
Except now I’ve committed to noticing. To saying something. To standing against racism and racist comments large and small.
I let the fear of conflict rule in the moment. I gave a hall pass in exchange for years of friendship. I allowed my brain to invent a “that’s just how he is” rationale.
And I stood there and allowed the scale to stay tipped in racism’s favor.
My first real test since the world turned upside down. And I failed it.
I thought my eyes were opened, but now I plainly see one way I continue to contribute to racism. And, sadly, I know it’s not the only way.
The reality is that speaking up would likely only train my friend to not make those comments around me. He will keep testing the waters and finding others who will allow it.
However, if we can shrink the pool of acceptance enough, there will be nowhere for these forms of racism to hide and it will be much more difficult for them to spread.
I am disappointed in myself for sure, but I am still committed to doing my part. I’m also recognizing that this is a marathon of baby steps, and this shit is harder than I thought.