"As a white woman raising white children in a mostly white community, I have always known deep down inside that I was part of the problem. But I was able to navigate my life without regard to race so I didn't fully understand. Being surrounded by white picket fences I felt awkward challenging racist comments that I heard in my community because I did not want to be rude or alienate people.
"But the shots that killed Ahmaud Arbery woke me with a start. I have no excuse for sleeping through the previous killings or ignoring the blatant inequality that I always knew was there. I started reading, first on Instagram and then in books and found the book White Fragility. I challenged a friend who was grappling with these same issues to read it with me.
"After George Floyd's death I made a similar request to my Facebook community, offering a free copy to anybody who wishes to discuss. My hope is that white people like me will read and either begin or continue to unlearn the institutionalized racism that comes with being raised in America.
"I do not enter into the discussion about white supremacy with shame or guilt because I know we did not ask for this and we are all good people. But now that I have seen the dirty underbelly of the racist foundation of this nation, I feel compelled to show my peers and begin to assist in the ongoing efforts to dismantle the system.
"I always wanted to be alive during a revolution. I am grateful to join in the fight."
The portrait of Andrea and her words are part of my project to show how Columbus is responding to and working through the current national protests in support of Black Lives Matter.
In addition to creating the portraits for the project, I have asked participants to “donate what you can” for each portrait sitting. Donations will benefit the Equal Justice Initiative, a national organization directed by Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy.
(If you’re interested in donating directly to the organization, you can donate here.)
Thank you, Andrea, and everyone who has joined the project. To join my project, please send me a private message or email at email@example.com. I want to tell your story next.
To read more about the project and to see a list of all the sessions, please click this link.