One White Woman’s Tiny Plan of Action


One White Woman’s Tiny Plan of Action – Write Now Columbus – June 2020

I’m a white, middle-aged, middle-class woman who lives in an affluent central Ohio suburb. While I was in high school, growing up in rural Ohio, the first family of “colored people” moved into our district.

They were Italian.


Despite my lifelong desire to reform racism out of myself, that lack of people of color during my formative years skewed my perspective. What I don’t know and haven’t experienced could make me dangerous to the black friends I love. I’m committed to facing my white privilege and racism. Until I own it, I can’t do anything about it.

I’m ashamed to admit it took a Facebook friend calling out we “white folks” on our silence after George Floyd’s murder for me to finally, decades too late, take more specific action. I am listening to my black friends, watching black leaders, and allowing their actions to guide my steps.

This week, an article in The Columbus Dispatch explained how business owners were signing a “Letter To Columbus City Council in Support of Resolution Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis.” As the publisher of Write Now Columbus, I added my voice. It felt ridiculously small in the face of so many deaths, but I had to begin somewhere. Maybe it would help turn the tide.

As a runner, today I would normally celebrate Global Running Day. Instead, I consciously “exercised” my white privilege by running three miles without being killed. Sound harsh? A few weeks ago, 25 year-old Ahmaud Arbery, a black man, was chased, gunned down, and killed by several white men while he was running. Today, I ran for him, used the hashtag #irunwithmaud to bring awareness, and donated to the fund set up for his mother.

I also donated to The Bail Project. Many black and impoverished people sit in jail awaiting trial because they cannot post bail. Meanwhile the white and affluent accused go home and to their jobs.

And I thought about my writing life. While some of the individuals in Depression Hates a Moving Targetare people of color, I did not point out anyone’s race. It didn’t seem to serve the story and might have been seen as gratuitous. I worry I missed an opportunity or responsibility.

I added black-owned bookstores to my lists and pledge to read more black history and books by black authors.

When my coauthor Brenda Knight and I chose author quotes to use in our new writing journal, You Should Be Writing, we carefully gathered from authors of all races. I’m especially proud of the final chapter about the role and responsibility of the writer. Words have power. May we use them wisely.

As others protest—I choose not to because of Ed’s compromised immune system—I continue to take good notes. I record my thoughts, feelings, and sensations, all things I may forget when later I want to reflect on this time.

I will add to my tiny plan as opportunities arise.

What’s your plan?

Notice I didn’t ask if you had one. We’re way beyond that.

It’s not my job to tell you want to do. But please, figure it out.