Growing up in white America, I never saw any Black people.

My name is Jennifer W. I live in a county in Wisconsin that is 93.8% white. For hundreds of years, white Americans have ignored the deep scars of racism. Now is the time for us to pay our dues and face the racial inequities we have caused and maintained. 

LEARNING TO SEE COLOR is a white person’s journal in search of anti-racism. I want to learn how white people can dismantle white supremacy and make justice and respect the new normal for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in America. BIPOC is a new, inclusive word to me.

The perspectives in this blog are mine, as a white woman of a certain age who wants our country to live up to the promise in the Declaration of Independence, that all people are created equal–not just the ones who are white, male and wealthy.

My sources for information are from all the different sources of news and opinion that I read, watch and hear every day, by professional journalists and writers who prize facts and truthful information. I am also reading more non-fiction books now, those written by BIPOC as well as white authors. I will identify quotes, provide links for more information, and express my opinions in the topics I choose to write about in this blog. The only conspiracy I’m part of is the one that calls for all Americans to be better educated and more compassionate about racial issues that affect us all.

I’ve organized these blog posts into five basic categories, that are the MENU at the top of the blog Home Page:

The name of this blog is personal: 

“Don’t we all really want the same things?” I asked a Black woman poet from Georgia several decades ago. “If we were blind, we wouldn’t even see each other’s skin color.”

At the time, I thought being color blind was a good thing. I thought I was reassuring her I accepted her—she was the only BIPOC woman at a writers’ retreat with five white women. Now, I realize I said that because she made me so uncomfortable by talking all the time and sounding angry about everything. The harsh reality in the lived experiences that filled her poetry made me want to cover my ears and not have to hear about them. I wanted to get us to some kind of pleasant ground where I was more comfortable–my white territory.

Her anger at me grew louder and more righteous. I eventually burst into tears, having no defense, wounded and misunderstood. I felt overwhelmed, because the wall of her anger made it impossible for us to ever connect in a better way. There didn’t seem anything I could say or do to erase her experience of encountering a racist at a writing conference. I walked away then—I literally left the retreat early—because I had no clue how to defend myself as a good person, or how to listen to what she was saying and why. If you are a Black woman writer reading this–any writer of any color–the only amends I can make is to vow that I won’t turn away or walk out again when I’m in the presence of sensibilities and lived experiences that aren’t my own.