Martin Luther King Jr memorial in Washington, DC. Image credit: mliu92 on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Of course I’m racist

It’s okay to realize you might be, too

Kaila Colbin
9 min readJun 3, 2020


Let me start by saying that I know this is not about me.

This is about justice, and injustice, and what each of us can do to bend the arc of the moral universe just that tiny bit more.

It is not about my fears, my tears, or my grief. It is about what is useful right now. And I’m going to take my cue from Osheta Moore: what is useful is to say, “I’m sorry, I’m listening, and I’m learning.”

I’m here in unwavering solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

I’m here in unwavering solidarity with those who have been proud active allies for longer than I’ve been sentient.

And I’m here to invite those who might be even newer at this than I am to come with me. Even though it’s scary. Even though it’s painful. Even though it’s uncomfortable.

Especially because it’s uncomfortable.

As Brené Brown said, “Opting out of a conversation because it makes you uncomfortable is the definition of privilege.”

Wanting to be a good person isn’t enough. Wanting peace isn’t enough. Trying to not be racist isn’t enough. We have to be anti-racist. And—like so much of the brutally difficult yet essential work in this life—being anti-racist starts within ourselves.

Charles Baudelaire said, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

I’ve come to the conclusion that the greatest trick white supremacy ever pulled was convincing the world that people are either racist or we’re not.

Nobody wants to be racist. To a white person, being called racist is the worst slur imaginable—the ultimate sign you are a Bad Person.

So we twist ourselves into knots to say things like, “I’m not racist, but…”

Or we scramble to point out all the ways in which we couldn’t possibly be racist: what with our Black friend, and that one teacher we had, and that…



Kaila Colbin

Founder/CEO Boma. Dual citizen USA/NZ. Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator. Just wants the world to be a better place.