Where the fuck have you been lately? Because I am seeing some shit, and I would sure as hell appreciate Your hand coming down, and administering some swift and well-aimed justice.
Here’s the thing- I’m white. I’m also a woman, so I’m always going to come in at least second in the world, and I grew up working class, so even though I pass for a well-educated middle-classer now, I’m always going to have a chip on my shoulder whenever someone bashes unions, or assumes access to health care and education. But.
But, because I am white, I could read the news about Mike Brown and Darren Wilson on twitter while I commuted home from my white-collar tech-job. Because I am white, I can be angry and heartsick and furious and rail against the corrupt police forces throughout the country, and in my own Bay Area, and never once fear whether I’m likely to be shot on sight. I’m fucking blonde, I’m about as safe as you can get. Because I am white, any child I have, even if I were to have one with the darkest man I could find, would already be born more privileged than the vast majority of its peers. If my also-white husband and I have a son, the world will be his oyster, and I will worry not at all about him being shot, unarmed, in the streets where I grew up.
This is bullshit.
Our country has never been fair, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a fool or a liar, but we have reached a point of sickness unto the proverbial death. Sure, things have been worse in this country, absolutely they have. The difference, though, is that we weren’t lying to ourselves about it. We weren’t selling our souls in Black Friday lines to buy goods from stores that cost our government millions of dollars a year in food stamps and welfare checks because they refuse to pay their employees a living wage. We weren’t shouting to each other that available basic healthcare was a scheme cooked up by a liberal government to bleed the hard-working white man dry. We weren’t telling ourselves that our consumption and production and waste wasn’t killing the very planet we live on. We weren’t discussing whether the mental health medications a mass shooter was on might justify his sexist murder spree.
We weren’t pretending, when an unarmed black child was shot and left to lie in the street for hours, that it was somehow just a tragic accident.
What on earth does it say about our country that have come to the point that we look back and declare “well, at least old-school racists weren’t hypocrites about it”?
I keep seeing calls for peace, for calm, for understanding. And I agree, indiscriminate violence is no solution. And yet, I remember what my priest said just last week; non-violent protests only work when the powers you’re protesting are not willing to just kill everyone.
What does it profit us to stay quiet, to stay in our homes, to light candles and post tweets? Will it make the authorities, the patriarchy, the privileged elite any more likely to hear us, to listen?
Violence begets violence, and hurt leads to hurt, no doubt. But what do you say to someone who is already hurting, who hurts every day of their lives? Don’t hurt the ones causing you pain, in case they make the pain worse? What does that do, other than reward the pain-causers in power?
Because I am white, I can be angry without fear of repercussion, and so I will be. While I condemn violence against the innocent (and it is too often they who end up in the crossfire), I also believe in the power and necessity of righteous anger to bring about change. If you are living in our world right now, and you are not angry, you are asleep or deluded. It is time to wake the fuck up. Be the change you want to see. Lead by doing. Walk the walk. Insert the inspirational metaphor of your choice here, but for the love of all that is holy, throw off the blindfolds, and see the truth of what our nation, our world, has become.
Those of us with the majority of the privilege have the responsibility to do the majority of the work in creating change. It’s better to start late than never.