"I Know I Certainly Have More to Learn..."

by Tara Dabney

Over the past several weeks, I have watched with increasing sadness, anger, frustration, anxiety and hope. I want hope to be what comes out of this work I am so committed to – interpersonally, professionally, emotionally and intellectually.I, like many of my White friends, have sent texts and emails, have posted antiracist information on social media and have spoken with friends, family and coworkers who are people of color. I want to do more than support and send love. Thanks to support from local and national groups, the organization where I work has helped coordinate food delivery, PPE for coworkers and the community and listened and loved as dear friends lost more Black lives to gun violence. Mostly, I have listened, and loved and put my money and my actions where my mouth and social media go. I encourage family and friends to do the same. Even as I recognize how often I have stayed silent. I refuse to stay silent anymore. I ask my Black and LatinX friends not how to be a better ally – that is my job to learn and other White people’s jobs to teach– rather I ask how they are feeling, and I genuinely listen. I know I certainly have more to learn. As I listen to How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi and read Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall, I recognize mistakes I have made and vow to do better and be better.

I constantly question if I am doing all I can. I am so grateful for the love and trust of my Black and LatinX friends as we all try to navigate this world. I will forever be grateful for the ways I have been allowed into people’s lives and families. I and my family have certainly been enriched by their love and friendship. I know I do not have it figured out. I am grateful for the grace I have been given by people who have been so devastated by racism and all its corollaries. Being an antiracist is something I will strive harder to be every day. I will also explain what this means to my White family and friends. It is way past time to create a new reality. I have hope for this new reality where antiracism is our new reality.

Tara moved to Chicago from Kentucky 20 years ago when she joined AmeriCorps and has committed herself to advocating for and supporting victims of violence her entire professional career. Tara has moved between direct service work and fundraising during this time, always maintaining strong ties to the direct service work. Tara grew up in a funeral home and still helps at her family’s business when she visits. From this lifelong exposure to loss, she believes we must interrupt the cycles of violence and grief, so we can heal as a larger society.