Hey, White People! Time for our first yoga lesson: today we will practice SEEING. It’s a common brain impediment for White folks to skip over people of color visually. To address this issue, here are several methods of correction through practice:
- When looking around a restaurant or other public venue, slow down and literally count the individual people of color who are dining or hanging out nearby. Don’t forget to count wait staff and old ladies waiting to be seated, children sitting in high chairs or sleeping in strollers, and others who might be easy to overlook. Do not make ignorant comments about how “mixed” the place seems to be, etc.; simply look and count. If the count is zero or one, or only wait staff are POC, rethink your dining or hanging out venue.
- When walking down the street, especially around playgrounds or near schools, deliberately look at and smile at each child of color (especially; you are also permitted to smile at White children, but you probably usually do anyway). Notice the children of color, if any. Don’t be creepy, but do notice them. Gently toss back lost balls to children of color when they roll near your feet. Reminder: “Child” means under 18 years old. Don’t forget to smile at all teenagers.
- Keep on smiling no matter the response. Do not expect a smile in return in all cases. Do not judge based on whether people smile back at you. White folks have done a lot of nasty stuff (not your fault, but still), and it should unfortunately not surprise you if POC respond slowly or not at all to apparent overtures of friendship from White people. It may take a few centuries for this to play itself out. Be patient, meanwhile.
Enjoy your practice, and see you again soon for more exercises!