Hi, I'm Emily Vincent. I'm a mom to three white children in the Denver, Colorado area (formerly in the Washington, DC area) and I have been a community organizer and activist in my community since 2017. I didn't plan for this to happen - the work found me and I said yes. And I keep saying yes.
|Photo by Alex Sakes (6/13/20)|
I preface this with full acknowledgement of the many privileges that have helped me participate to this extent in anti-racist work. Please approach my experience as one single example of the many ways people can engage in this work, not as a specific path to follow. I also fully acknowledge the work of so many who have come before who have paved the way for the rest of us and to the people of color who have led this work from the beginning.
I do not write this to prove my woke-ness. I will never feel comfortable calling myself "woke" because there is always more to learn. I write this to show white people that we must do this work and that there are many ways to engage. I'm willing to share my personal timeline with you to show that there are no quick fixes. We do not have much control over how this work evolves, so we must focus on how we choose to engage with it, over and over again.
I started intentionally unlearning white supremacy and racism in 2014 after Michael Brown was murdered by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. My daughter was two years old and I watched on Facebook as one of my white friends, who was raising her young black son, shared her fears for her child and his safety. In that moment, I realized that her parenting experience was very different from mine, and I understood that I would never have the same fears for my white children. That felt wrong, so I started to educate myself about the persistence of systemic racism.
Since then, I have consistently taken steps to continue learning and internalizing an anti-racist mindset. I spent a lot of time reading and seeking out sources written by people of color. I worked to reflect on my own reactions and to understand my own complicity in systemic racism and the perpetuation of white supremacy. I attended an event hosted by a local chapter of Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) about how to talk to kids about race in February 2016. After the 2016 election, I knew that I needed a change and started putting more and more energy into my anti-racist work.
I attended the March for Racial Justice/March for Black Women in September 2017. I joined my local chapter of the NAACP in 2018 so I could make sure that my work was held accountable to people of color in our community. I have been a member of their Education Committee since it was re-energized in 2019. I attended an allyship workshop by Service Never Sleeps in March 2019, which was a pivotal point for me.
I spend time listening to people in marginalized groups to understand their experiences and the barriers they face. I spend time talking with white people about what I am learning, hoping to bring them along. I have made a point of meeting individually with most of our County Board and School Board members, to share my concerns and to ask them about their priorities for equity in our community. I have made connections with many organizations and people already working on equity issues in their own way. I have worked to build relationships and to prove my dedication to this work by listening, showing up, amplifying others, and continuing my self-work.
I founded Facing Race in Arlington after hosting a community meeting to talk about resisting racism in August 2017, shortly after Charlottesville. The current email group of nearly 250 community members receives weekly updates, which I cross-post on Medium and White Folks Facing Race for broader reach since most of the resources I share are relevant nationally. I relocated to Denver in July 2021 where I have continued my education equity work.
The recent increase in requests for my participation in community events has been due to my consistent, persistent work to listen to the people most impacted by systemic racism, to amplify their voices and to advocate for their increased representation and access to seats at the table, and to follow the leadership of those already engaged in anti-racist work in the community. Rather than creating an organization that duplicates work already happening and thereby elevating myself, I have focused on building and strengthening a coalition of community members already working on these issues.
My goals are (1) to educate and motivate white people to engage in anti-racist work in themselves and their communities; and, (2) to amplify and promote people in systemically impacted groups to ensure inclusion, access to power and opportunity, and to listen to their priorities and needs and to make them my own.
I have committed to making this lifelong work. Please join me.