by Marsha Green, Durham, NC
We often say that Couple Enrichment is important because peacemaking begins at home. I was reminded of this recently when I read an article about anti-racism. The article, “9 Phrases Allies Can Say When Called Out Instead of Getting Defensive,” addresses the fact that even when we mean well we often unintentionally hurt people, and it can be uncomfortable when that hurt is named. As the title suggests, the author provides alternative responses to the knee-jerk position of defensiveness when someone corrects us over issues of perpetuating white supremacy.
Instead of just saying ‘sorry’ and leaving it at that, some of the phrases the author suggests are:
“I’m going to take some time to reflect on this.”
‘I recognize that I have work to do.”
“I believe you.”
“I apologize, I’m going to do better.”
What struck me as I read these phrases is how they are the same phrases that my best self uses when my beloved lets me know I have hurt him.
They are phrases that I can only say if I am willing to admit that I have caused harm, regardless of my intention. They are phrases that honor the experience of the other person as reality. They are phrases that indicate that something just might change because of this interaction.
They are phrases that I need to take out into the world with me as I join with my community in the ongoing work of standing up against racism.
I am so glad that my imperfect relationship with my beloved provides a place to practice these non-defensive responses. Surely, practicing peacemaking at home can only strengthen my ability to respond more appropriately when I am called out for unintentionally harming people of color by failing to see how my actions (or inactions) are perpetuating a culture that seems not to believe that Black Lives Matter.