Holy shit. These are terrifying times. I have been spending days, weeks, and months trying to put words on paper about Trump, hate, racism, fear, the patriarchy, bigotry, antisemitism and the state of the world, but I always seem to be paralyzed by the enormity of the problems.
So instead of writing, I have spent most of my time listening. And reading. Seeking out voices from oppressed and marginalized groups. One major sentiment that resonated with me is that the racism we are seeing today is not new or because of Trump, it is just being REVEALED. And that is something I have had to keep reminding myself. My privilege as a white woman has allowed me to forget from time to time that this always existed in North America, as I am not threatened by it daily, but as a proud Jewish woman I am also acutely aware of what it means to have your peoples existence threatened by hate-filled groups.
But as I stay glued to the news and my computer these days trying desperately to fight and understand the evil going on, I have also felt conflicted and hesitant to write anything online. And here is why:
I completely understand that I come from a place of privilege for the fact that I can choose to be political or not, but I DO WANT TO BE POLITICAL. I agree fucking whole-heartedly that “if I am silent, I am part of the problem”. I agree that “we aren’t what we think and feel, but what we say and do”. I DO NOT WANT TO BE SILENT TO INJUSTICE.
BUT, I think where my hesitation about posting online has come from, and were some confusion may lie, is my worry that people may think that “do not be silent and speak up” means “speak up JUST on social media”. And I can easily sit behind my computer and state that “I AM AGAINST WHITE SUPREMACY, NEO-NAZIS, and RACISM”, but I am pretty confident that the people in my community aren’t nazis, and also want to fight systemic racism. I haven’t written a statement online because it feels so monstrously inadequate in this fight, and I don’t want to feed this false sense of superiority for being “more woke” simply because I made a statement online. Or that a public statement means I am a “good”, and the danger of that as Ta-Nehisi Coates writes in Between the World and Me:
The point of this language of “intention” and “personal responsibility” is broad exoneration. Mistakes were made. Bodies were broken. People were enslaved. We meant well. We tried our best. “Good intention” is a hall pass through history, a sleeping pill that ensures the Dream.
But I also understand that words matter. So I will say it here, LOUD AND CLEAR: I AM AGAINST WHITE SUPREMACY IN ALL ITS HEINOUS FORMS. Because it’s true that when you feel helpless, sometimes posting online is the first step to action. Because there is absolutely no question about where I stand. Because I want to use my voice, and make it hard and uncomfortable to be racist. Because I want POC and other vulnerable minorities in my life to know that I am a safe place for them.
But I will also say this: I do not believe it is enough for me to just make a statement online against hatred. It does not exonerate me.
POSTING ONLINE CAN NOT BE WHERE IT ENDS. Speaking up against hatred and racism does not mean solely in my own tiny online bubble in front of (most likely) all people that believe in the same things I do, SPEAKING UP means taking action when someone says or does something evil IN REAL LIFE. AT THE GROCERY STORE, ON THE BUS, AT WORK, AT THE DINNER TABLE. Speak up in that instance when someone I don’t know, or someone I love, says an inappropriate joke, a back-handed comment, or does something fucked up to someone else based on their race, religion, sexual identity, disability, age, origin or anything else that makes them “different”.
I live in Vancouver, Canada. And it is far too common to hear people say racist things about the Asian or Indigenous community. Racism in Vancouver may not look like it did this past weekend in Charlottesville, but it is still here.
So post whatever you want to post online. PROUDLY and VISIBLY say you are anti-white supremacy. Share thought provoking articles about racism and 5 ways to be a good white ally, and 10 ways to fight hate. Spread that VICE episode fucking far and wide! Post your thoughts and feelings about these insane times because it is NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL. I will read and watch it all. BUT I IMPLORE MYSELF AND OTHERS, DO NOT STOP THERE.
Don’t call it a day because I said something online. Good intentions are not enough. This is ongoing. It’s everyday. A true paradigm shift is going to take a lot longer and a lot more work (and most likely not work done sitting at a computer). And most importantly, be ready for when the time comes, an opportunity to stand up against someone who is racist in real life, that I am not silent. Speak up when it really counts.