“I’m John and I’m a racist.”

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16 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    Well done, John! It took courage and selflessness to post this writing. I feel everyone can use a little of this wisdom. Keep showing up!

  2. Ian Solomon says:

    Thanks for sharing this brave and honest post. It took courage, humility, candor, and real thoughtfulness. As a Black man who knows many people in common with you (but not you directly) and also your father, I stand ready to support your healing however I can. In the meantime, know that I see your admitted racism, like you admitted alcoholism, as an illness and not a defect, as a set of changeable habits and not your identity. You can and will heal, and your leadership will help heal others. Stay safe!

  3. Ian Solomon says:

    Thanks for sharing this brave, honest, and thoughtful post. As a Black man who knows many people in common with you (but not you directly) and also your father, I stand ready to support your healing however I can. In the meantime, know that I see your admitted racism, like you admitted alcoholism, as an illness and not a defect, as a set of changeable habits and not your identity. You can and will heal, and your leadership will help heal others. Stay safe!

  4. Anne Hill says:

    Have you read Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Anti-Racist? He explores new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. Diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic colon cancer about a year an a half ago, and like you, I believe he wrote this in part because “…if not now, when?”
    https://www.ibramxkendi.com/how-to-be-an-antiracist-1

  5. Armitage says:

    I admire your courage John. This is something we have been talking about int he book community too. It’s not possible not to be poisoned by racism. Saying nothing isn’t enough anymore. I agree we need to do the anti-racist work necessary and stand as allies. Have you read White Fragility? Kevin and I found it was an excellent resource.

  6. Clud says:

    “When I think about it honestly, it’s impossible that I am NOT a racist.” — this is where your earnest self-reflection seems to have gone off into a ditch. Just because racism exists, and it surely does, isn’t it YOUR own thoughts, actions & attitudes that define you as an individual? If alcohol is all around us, and alcoholism a gut-wrenching, life-wrecking addiction, does that mean anyone who has a drink is an alcoholic? (I am trying to follow your logic using the same metaphor.) From what you describe, your thoughts, attitudes & actions seem to indicate you are in fact not a racist. How is it “impossible” that you aren’t a racist; is it simply because of the color of your skin, something over which you have no control? If you lived in a place where your skin color put you in the minority, would those around you in the majority also automatically be deemed racist in this worldview? I think your journey of self-reflection and desire to be part of a solution is admirable, I just wonder if painting all members of any one group (based on race, religion, orientation, politics) with the same wide brush, is accurate or helpful. I am guessing that most thoughts that begin with “ALL ____s ARE _____ “ is not only factually incorrect, but if you replaced the word “whites” with “Muslims” or “LGBTIAQ” the premise of “impossible not to be” takes on a whole new perspective, and would in fact be the very kind of stereotyping you are seeking to overcome & eradicate…

    • Julia says:

      It’s sounds like you feel attacked by the idea that all white peoples have racist habits and ideals due to their complicit participation in the American system. John has humbly acknowledged that he, like every other white person, has benefited from or contributed to this oppressive system in one way or another, intentionally or unintentionally. What he is saying is not stereotyping but rather a fact. This statement can be made without it being a personal attack against you or John. This piece to me is about self awareness and growth, I encourage you read this piece again and self reflect. You can do incredibly good acts but still have inherent biases that you haven’t unpacked, or continue to do small things that perpetuate or endorse systemic inequity. The greatest act
      Is realizing that you are participating in this system and consequently there is always room to learn and grow as a white person. John, thank you for sharing this piece.

  7. Lauren Dwartz Drazen says:

    John. This is Lauren Dwartz Drazen ‘92. Liza Knapp shared this with our group of ‘92 friends and I am so glad she did. I have been trying to explain this to all those who are insulted by the idea that they are racist. I don’t know how to explain that we all are. May I share on FB? Thank you for your honesty and thoughtful post!

  8. Terri says:

    Thank you John. I love you.

    Your friend Terri Ruff (Bourne)

  9. Holly Hehemann says:

    I admire your bravery in sharing your personal journey and your desire to put forth actions to make a difference. Thank you for your personal commitment and for all that you do for our City; you are making a difference.

  10. Hey John…

    I’ve got four years of abstinence under my belt and, as a result, I’ve been through a whirlwind of emotions. I’ve also gotten some clarity too… It is clear to me that I am a good person with issues. It is also clear to me, as a newly recovering drunk, that my mind has been susceptible to the whims of thought. I’m worried that you may be questioning your ethos when, in fact, it might be a coordinated effort that has lead you to your newly enshrined belief…

    I have been called “racist” over the years and, honestly, I’ve been afraid of being called “racist” so I’ve been quiet. That changed when the frequency of the “racist” charge became more frequent. My in-laws called me “racist” when I refused to condemn Donald Trump; they’re Democrats… I don’t let the charge of “racist” hurt me anymore because it’s, seemingly, the last refuge of the victim. The term “racist” has been convoluted by the Democrats to such a degree that its meaning and sting have evaporated.

    I didn’t know, until recently, that this effort to smear White people with the charge of “racism” has been a coordinated effort… It has White people questioning themselves, in many cases, unnecessarily. I don’t believe you’re “racist” but it doesn’t matter what I think… It matters when you think.

    I’d love for you to read a post I wrote called “Critical Race Theory Has Been Defunded by the Trump Administration”. I urge you to take an hour or so to go down the rabbit hole… Watch the entire YouTube video that was posted by Casey Petersen. Your eyes may be opened…

    https://jonathanbowen.boston/2020/09/05/critical-race-theory-has-been-defunded-by-the-trump-administration/

  11. Scott Facher says:

    Appreciate your thoughtfulness and vulnerability, pep. Keep on fighting the fight and looking inward!

  12. Kim Morton says:

    Pepps, you are amazing. I have not done the “I am an alcoholic” work yet, but I am daily doing the “I am a Racist” work. And I will not stop. Just like you. We will/do make mistakes, we listen, we course correct, we are accountable and apologize sincerely and we open our hearts. We all grow. As Martin Luther King said, “All life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.” If you have a chance, listen to this stunning 47min talk MLK gave at Stanford University to a room full of White men in 1967. It could be today.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOWDtDUKz-U
    John, thank you for putting your vulnerability and truth out there with such courage. You are an inspiration.
    Kim Anstatt Morton

  13. Susan says:

    This is truly an amazing piece that took my breath away. It needs to go viral!

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