October 15, 2020

John H.

Smiling man in suit and tie outdoors.

John H.

Victoria, MN

Why I joined ARCC?

I was relatively ignorant about systemic racism as a continuing problem throughout America. Sure, I was aware of racism in a historical context, but racism didn’t really still exist in my narrow existence–as far I knew. But the events following the killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day 2020 finally brought me to my senses, both literally and figuratively. My eyes were opened by the sheer volume and persistence of demonstrations following the senseless killing of George Floyd. How could so many people in so many places protest for days becoming weeks, and weeks becoming months if there wasn’t something very real behind their outrage? Then I watched Adam Donyeas’ $100 race video explaining white privilege. I could feel the resentment and dejection on the faces of students of color while the predominantly white students benefited from the head starts they were given due to factors completely unrelated to personal merit or achievement. Seeing this video helped me realize how I and so many like me had benefited through no effort of our own at the expense of others–specifically, at the expense of people of color. My ears were opened to the subtle racist remarks of people in my community–people I considered friends. Worse were the blatant racist and dismissive remarks from too many of our elected officials. And I am terrified by the willingness of so many people to blindly accept and follow the hateful ideas promoted by too many of our community and country’s leaders. History has shown us how fragile democracy can be, and how swiftly it can be replaced by oppressive authoritarianism. My voice is starting to open. I’ve begun to talk about social justice–just among those in my closest circle of friends, family and neighbors. Mostly I am encouraged by the responses of most who share my concerns. But I am also shocked by some who boldly dismiss the idea that social inequality is a continuing problem,and how they blame the disadvantaged. My conversations with Donzel have helped me understand that change starts with me. Donzel is guiding me in understanding racism more deeply and learning how to speak more effectively and confidently against the racist ideas and policies that are enmeshed in our society. I see Donzel as my coach on becoming an antiracist. He’s an educator, motivator and a mentor who will hold me accountable to my commitment in the movement for social justice. I aspire to be an antiracist. I see it as a lifelong journey. My motives are simple. First, I truly believe that we are better as a society when we embrace all people without regard to race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. Second, I want to be a better person. I believe that committing myself to ARCC’s mission will help me become the person I want to be and our society to become what we all need it to be.