MARCH 17, 2022

Why Should Survivors Educate Those Who Caused Harm?

I’m tired of being responsible for having to educate those who have harmed me and my people

As a Person of Color, it’s frustrating having to confront someone who harmed me, tell them what they did was wrong, and then educate them as to why.

It’s not fair that the responsibility to educate falls on the person who has been harmed.

It’s exhausting to continually make others see they called you an offensive term, talked over you in a meeting, stole your ideas, ignored or silenced your voice – but this is what we have to do if we want people to change.

If You Bear This Burden

If you’re a Person of Color and you muster the courage to say something to a White person who wronged you, only to hear them say, “Well, educate me!” – then, yes, that does put the burden on you, the person who has been harmed.

It’s a way for them to not take responsibility for their own actions, and yes, that’s another injustice.

But, I say it straight: “I’m frustrated that your response implies it’s my job to make you understand or teach you how to be.”

It’s exhausting, but I do it. I try to see their perspective and then I share mine.

Because they’ll never change on their own. And after I have that tough conversation, I can look at a person and “feel” for the shift, whether they got it or not.

I have the power to communicate my truth while bridging the gap of understanding.

I have the power to raise their consciousness.

I have the power to create allies.

One by one. And, yes, even if it’s exhausting. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I do what I do!

What Can Allies Do?

White Allies, please know that Black people often feel like we need to represent our whole race.

Don’t put that burden on us.

Please just ask us about ourselves, as individuals.

A well intentioned Ally says, “I don’t know what your experience has been. I’m not aware I’ve done something wrong, although I could have.”

This is what taking ownership looks like.

Something you could say is: “Here’s what I think I can do. What does help look like to you?”

Simply acknowledging that it happened, then ask what you can do to show up as a supporter in the future will go a long way and help people lower their defenses.

Let’s engage in a dialogue about race, just don’t make it my job or responsibility to educate you about Black people.