Each morning I drink my coffee and read the news, scroll through facebook, catch up with Heather Cox Richardson. Then I go for a walk in the canyon and process what I have read. More often than not, I end up riled up.
Note to self: stop reading the news before the walk
2nd note to self: stop reading the fucking news
What’s got me going this morning is white hypocrisy.
Locally, state-wide, and on a national level – it’s everywhere in the BLM movement.
Disclaimer: I am white, from a very privileged background, with an excellent, expensive, private school education. I knew very few people of color growing up. I do not, in any way, share in the experience of the discrimination and hatred that BIPOC have lived.
I am ignorant as fuck.
But I hope that I am not a hypocrite.
Anyway, what I am observing is white people taking the lead on racial issues – from their position of comfort and privilege.
ALL of us need to jump on the racial injustice bandwagon. It’s time, and it’s our responsibility. Especially for those of us whose privilege has led to where we are in this moment in history. But shouldn’t the drivers of the bandwagon be the people whose experiences we are addressing?
For example, many of my closest friends are queer. I can stand up for their rights, I can protest against discrimination and hatred and ignorance. I can educate myself. I can offer support. I can try to educate others.
But can I speak for the Queer Community?
And what I see these days is some white people, often those considered leaders in the BLM movement, speaking for BIPOC. It’s one thing, in my humble opinion, to speak with the oppressed, but for??????
And in so many of these conversations, the speakers are angry, self-righteous, condescending, arrogant, and utterly lacking in compassion for those who are just trying to figure this all out.
I often feel like I am being schooled, not educated.
Many of the folks to whom I am referring are doing really good work in their communities or across the country towards equality and for that I am grateful. But you can’t deny who you are. Because one’s partner or best friend is brown or black or asian (currently receiving a rash of racist shit during this pandemic) – this does not make one an expert.
And this certainly does not magically make one a Person of Color.
I read amazing articles written from positions of relative ease – big houses, good educations, white-collar jobs, a full refrigerator, health care. I pour over them, trying to learn, but when that (white) writer speaks with a tone of superiority, I shut right down.
We can’t deny who we are. Just like it would be gross of me to pretend that didn’t belong to a fancy country club, I hate to see others pretend that they haven’t participated in a world made available to them because of their skin color.
Once I was old enough to make my own choices, I chose to no longer participate in the elite world in which I was raised. But I once did. For many years – mainly the formative ones. I enjoyed my privilege. I benefitted from it. Turning my back on that world doesn’t erase it from my history.
For me to speak on racial issues I must first come from the place of admitting to coming from the place from which I came.
I must own, not deny, the advantages that I have had, and continue to have.
I must own my lack of knowledge, lack of first-hand experience, lack of understanding.
I hear “community, equality, love,” and those words are not muffled by a mask in the age of a pandemic. How can one care so much about the experience of others and yet be selfish enough to not protect those around us?
Is the decision to put your neighbors at risk possible for you because you know that you can see a doctor if you get sick? You have family and friends who will help care for you? You know you won’t starve if you miss work?
Me vs We
We can’t erase who we are, who we’ve been.
But we can change, and change we must.
But change isn’t possible unless we start with the truth of who we are.
Honesty or hypocrisy?