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A note to all my fellow white folks trying to get a quick anti-racism education

An analogy about expectations for my fellow white folks just diving into anti-racism education:

Imagine showing up to a class an hour late. How would you expect the professor to respond to your entrance?

Would you expect them to greet you at the door, tell you how happy they are that you arrived, walk you to your seat and make sure you were comfortable? Would you expect the teacher to ask you if you have everything you need or thank you for showing up? Would you expect them to take time away from the class to do that—would that even feel appropriate?

Or would you expect them to say, "Hi, take a seat." Or perhaps nothing at all—maybe just give you a glance while they get on with the class as you find a place to sit?



And how would you enter that class if you were an hour late?

Would you walk in and announce, "Hey, I'm here!" and then give a big explanation for why you are taking the class and what took you so long to get there, diverting the class's attention and taking away valuable class time?

Would you walk straight up to the professor and say, "Sorry I'm late, but could you please go over what you've covered in the last hour with me?" Just imagine the professor's face if you did that, and then hold that thought.

Or would you quickly and quietly sit down, open your book and do your best to keep up with where the class is now, knowing you're going to have to catch up on the first hour of material on your own. Maybe even borrowing someone's notes to help with what you've missed.

Would the professor be glad that you were in the class? Sure. Better late than never. But would you expect them to express gratitude or happiness that you finally showed up? Of course not.

Now imagine the professor's life depends on people like you showing up for class. Imagine that they've seen countless students arrive late, sit down for a few minutes, decide the desk is too uncomfortable or the subject matter is too hard, then walk out, over and over and over. Would you expect them to feel relieved at your arrival? Would you expect to be met with a warm welcome, or some understandable skepticism?


Photo by National Cancer Institute


White folks, we are that late student.Only we are far more than an hour late.

If you're just diving into anti-racism activism and it all feels a bit pricklier, less patient or less welcoming than you expected, this is why. We don't get a cookie for showing up to a place we already should have been. We should not expect an open-armed, warm welcome because we've finally arrived.

We might be embarrassed when we realize how late we are. We might feel like we have some good reasons for it. But lengthy apologies and explanations just waste valuable class time and no one really wants to hear it, no matter how heartfelt or sincere. The class just wants to move on.

We're undoubtedly going to feel a little lost. But if we raise our hands to ask questions about stuff that was covered in the hour we missed, we should expect the response to be a simple "You're going to need to get someone's notes on that" or "That was covered in Chapter 1—go back and read it." No one would expect a professor to go over material that's already been covered for the student who showed up an hour into class. No one should expect them not to find those questions annoying.

Yes, it is good that we're here. There's no question about that. But we're late to a class that's already in session and that's the dynamic we should expect. The most respectful thing we can do is recognize our lateness, then quickly take a seat, open our books and listen like someone's life depends on it. The truth is, it does.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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