I had originally planned a Halloween post for today, but this morning I messed up, and it’s been hanging with me enough that I decided I should write about it.
One of my mentors once told me that, as a person of privilege, if I wanted to be involved in struggles for social justice, I had to recognize that I was going to “mess up . . . a lot.” She said, “Knowing this, you have to be prepared to apologize earnestly, humble yourself, and move forward, attempting to do better and live more accountably.”
Well, this morning I made an ass of myself. I recently reached out to some consultants in the DC area to see if they could help a non-profit that I regularly work with. As far as I know, all of the consultants are people of Color. Well, in the initial email, I messed up one of their names, taking a name that is not “normative White” and making it, well, as “normative White” as you can get.
The woman politely corrected me in an email, and I responded apologetically. But get this: I responded in a hurry, and I DID IT AGAIN!
Now, I know how a lot of White folks are going to respond to this. “It’s a simple mistake! It’s easy to accidentally mess up someone’s name. I do it all the time! Why do you have to make everything about race and social justice, Jamie?!?”
Well, I agree that it’s a simple mistake, but it happens quite often for not-so-simple reasons.