Clarity From Charlottesville and Taylor Swift

Between Charlottesville and Taylor Swift I’m gaining more clarity.

I’m a woman in my 60s who started therapy immediately after our oldest daughter was born to guarantee that she would have healthy relationships with men. I had watched my mother navigate her male dominated world as a wife and nurse leader. My dad was domineering and the cardiovascular surgeons she was responsible for keeping in line in the 1960s were the gods of healthcare. She was effective in both arenas with her street smarts and female finesse, but the communication styles were of that time and not the most emotionally intelligent. I didn’t want that world for my daughters or myself, and I could feel that I had not progressed enough to be a good role model. My anger and resentment about gender inequality got in the way of healthy communication; I had more work to do.

I realize now that the same gender communication haze hangs over me again regarding race. My anger and resentment about racial inequality can dominate my thoughts and reactions, and prevent clear thinking and clear communication.

When I heard Taylor Swift’s clarity last week at the trial where she sued a DJ for assault and battery, I was impressed with her clarity. When the attorney asked her if she was critical of her bodyguard in her testimony, she responded with, “I’m critical of your client sticking his hand under my skirt and grabbing my ass.” She foiled his attempt to shift the responsibility over to her bodyguard. Awe, clarity.

Now with racial tensions being revealed as more prevalent than I had perceived as a white person, I am obligated to open deeper communications regarding racial issues beyond political correctness. I now see that my pro civil rights beliefs have probably shut down opportunities for deeper conversations about race. I’m also trying to be more reflective of how my own upbringing in the 50s and 60s of segregation and how my unearned privileges cloud my perceptions. I have no idea what it must be like to be a person of color or of other ethnic groups.

What I know is that I can become less self-righteous, less judgmental of others, regardless of their beliefs, to allow more open conversations about the world we live in.

My pursuit is more clarity within myself and more clarity in my behaviors. One thing I know from experience is that courage requires clarity.

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