Challenging My Beliefs

{Written by a SHINE Power Yoga Teacher Trainee after reading their required reading of How To Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X Kendi}

I want to share a story about myself and how this book helped shift my mindset. A mindset that I didn’t even realize needed shifting.

I must admit, I rolled my eyes a bit when I saw this on our reading list. I begrudgingly downloaded the audio book, thinking, well, I can listen while I walk the dog and get my steps in. It’s narrated by the author, Ibram X. Kendi. He has a very soothing voice. Maybe too soothing, I quickly found myself daydreaming or not paying enough attention on my daily walks.

Then this happened….

I went out to dinner with my 3 teenagers and my mom and her husband. It wasn’t long before the conversation took a negative turn. My mom and her husband sharing their thoughts and feelings about protests, riots, and general malaise surrounding the black community. I relied on my usual default – stay out of it, don’t comment, keep the peace. The conversation moved on and that was that. Except, that it wasn’t. My reaction did not sit well with me and thoughts of HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST were on my mind. I bought the hard copy and got to reading!

What was I teaching my children at that dinner table? That it was more important to be polite than speak my mind? Or worse! That by keeping my mouth shut, I agreed with my mom and her husband? Then it clicked. This is just a small piece of what Kendi was talking about. In my mind, I was not racist. How could I be? I never said things like what my mom was saying. But I was certainly not being antiracist. I now understand that being nice and polite to everyone is not enough. Staying neutral is not enough.

I didn’t speak my mind that night at dinner. It is very difficult to admit that by staying silent, a part of me was showing up as racist. The book opened me up to a new concepts. I have since shared these ideas and the book with my kids (who seem to be far more enlightened than I ever was!). HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST covers so much more than just this little piece. It talks about history, policies, and even essential language and definitions. But for me, teaching (and learning with) my children was the most important part of the book. Changing how I look at things and doing the work to become a better human is hard. Challenging the beliefs of others is difficult for me, but at our next family gathering, I will speak up and strive to be antiracist.

– Written by a 2021 Teacher Trainee

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