Privilege. Power. Hypocrisy.

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?

Uh, no.

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

Entitlement?

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

rethinking every thought (or, being a great beauty in an ugly world)

This photo was in my FB newsfeed this morning.

The caption was: Nyakim Gatwech, a South Sudanese model, may have the darkest skin in the world.

My first thought was, “I wonder what it would be like to go through life being that beautiful.”

I often have that thought. There used to be a model in the Sundance catalog who had the most incredible green eyes and outrageous, wild, free-range hair; I imagined waking up and looking in the mirror and having those eyes look back at me. I would ask myself, “Would my life be so much better if I had that hair?”

Yes, actually, it would.

She probably has her “fat days” and “ugly days” just like the rest of us. Maybe even gets a zit or two, but I still can’t fathom being that stunning.

While I can admit that I am fairly attractive, I am certainly not jaw-dropping gorgeous.

“She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me.”

Unlike the great beauty, Ms. Gatwech, with her flawless skin and mile-long legs…

and her youth.

Okay, not everyone reads the morning newspaper in a black strappy dress, heels, with a glass of wine, casually seated on the 8,000-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets.

I certainly don’t.

I don’t even read the paper.

I usually prefer coffee or tequila instead of wine first thing in the morning.

Anyway, I have the thought about being so stunning and what life must be like, etc., and then, reality kicks in, and I think,

Her striking looks, her incomparable beauty, her forever legs that aren’t mottled with cellulite and scars – these things that I struggle to imagine having myself – these things don’t change the fact that she is black.

In America.

And while I understand that I will never experience life as a gorgeous head-turner, what I really will never experience is being a black woman in this country.

And unfortunately, If I am going to be truly honest, I am shamefully grateful for this reality.

#blacklivesmatter

#whiteprivilege

#checkyourracisimatthedoor