I recently learned a new word - goodish. Dolly Chugh introduces the term goodish in her book The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias.

She argues that the only way to be on the right side of history is to be a good-ish— rather than good—person. Good-ish people are always growing. Second, she helps you find your “ordinary privilege”—the part of your everyday identity you take for granted, such as race for a white person, sexual orientation for a straight person, gender for a man, or education for a college graduate. This part of your identity may bring blind spots, but it is your best tool for influencing change. Third, Dolly introduces the psychological reasons that make it hard for us to see the bias in and around us. She leads you from willful ignorance to willful awareness. Finally, she guides you on how, when, and whom, to engage (and not engage) in your workplaces, homes, and communities. Her science-based approach is a method any of us can put to use in all parts of our life.

If you’re good, then what you do is good. Being not racist means that when you express an idea, it is not racist. Think about every sentence that starts with “I’m not racist, but.’ The rest of that sentence is always racist. Sometimes, shockingly so. As Ibram X. Kendi points out, when white nationalist Richard Spencer is saying he’s “not racist,” then the term doesn’t mean anything anymore.

Goodish means that we are good most of the time. It means that we try to be good. Crucially, it opens us up to the possibility that some of our actions, words, and thoughts are not good. It opens us up for self-reflection and self-criticism. It means that we haven’t arrived yet. We are still on the journey.

That’s why I try to be good, but I accept that I’m goodish.

Seth Kraut
Seth Kraut

Obsessed with how the world works