Monday, June 01, 2020

My Privilege

My privilege is here... home. I can retreat. I can pull weeds, wash dishes, go to bed, plan a graduation, turn off my phone. My privilege is passing for white, the protection of my husband, the advantage of living in a mostly liberal community, my education, knowing when to keep quiet, who not to offend, when not to speak, where not to go. My privilege is being born into a system that I have learned to play...

I hide.

I am not marching. I am not disowning my advantages, or flying a liberal flag in my front yard.

I am staying low, because I don't want to lose my security, my freedom. I don't want to invite the notice of white supremacists, bullies, MAGA, of "nice" people that do and say mean, thoughtless shit. I have been kicked, and harassed, hissed at, sneered at, called a "Jap, Chink, dirty Mexican, beaner, wetback, dirty Indian, buttercup, snowflake." I have been streamed in school, profiled, denied access, snubbed, harassed. I have seen it, felt it, fought it, dreaded it, been humiliated and hurt by it all of my life. I have had the talk with my boys... shave your beard, cut your hair, keep your hands visible, don't stay out late, don't fight back, don't, just. don't, and I try to think of all the ways a bad cop, a rowdy bunch of "fine people" might react to my mixed-race sons and daughter. And now... though I am safe, and staying home, I am struggling anyways, because I see my privilege is all the ways I avoid being in the midst of the violence, the pain, the little digs, the snickers, jokes, the prejudice, and bias, the stereotypes, assumptions. I have nice things, and hopes, and I don't want to lose them, and my privilege is this bubble, where I can hide and cower, and physically escape almost any consequence.


It is not enough to say, "I am not racist, and I do not hate." It's not enough to post a Black Lives Matter sticker on FB, or quote Martin Luther King. This won't be over if we can get a President that doesn't call black men "Sons of bitches" or grabs women by "the pussy." The system is working as it was meant to... it is corrupt, it is racist, it is hurting people of color, and we cannot hide from this any more. It is very uncomfortable. It is ongoing, and will be ongoing until everyone is heard, until Black men and women are heard and respected, counted, and seen. This is more than politics, more than "them" or other cities, other anything... I am antiracist and uncomfortable, and I am listening, and acting, and I am scared.


Unknown said...

I was just talking to one of my dearest friends about this yesterday— she’s Latina, and I’m white. She’s our son’s godmother, and her older son is our oldest’s lifelong best friend— from first grade, and they’re now in college. I felt like I needed to tell her — I mean, she knows I know, but still. That she has to worry about her Mexican-American son in ways I just don’t have to worry about my white son, his best friend. That she has to deal with racist incidents and I don’t. I’m an immigrant, and I was told by classmates in Ohio to go back where I came from when I was a kid, but no one randomly yells that at me on the street, because I’m white. Our sons were planning a road trip before this pandemic, and I told her I was thinking that her son shouldn’t be the one driving in Arizona because of that whole racial profiling of drivers, and she started laughing and said, “Oh my God, you thought of that too?” I inadvertently benefit from a system that tries to keep her down. I’ve tried to cut back on social media since a time from 2016 to 2018 when I spent far too much time trying to argue idiots out of supporting Trump, so I’m not posting about it—but I’m donating, reading, calling out other people who say racist crap in front of me because I’m white and they assume I agree, trying to keep examining my own assumptions, trying to raise my kids to speak out and recognize their privilege. I’m not sure why I’m writing this. I guess to say that you shouldn’t have to deal with this, but you do, like my friend does.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Thank you! Thank you, for sharing this, and for being open and supportive of your friend.
I've come to learn that we all want to be seen, we need others to notice where we are at, what's happening to us, and with maturity, we realize we can't always have our problems solved, that we won't always get a gold star for our good deeds. Still, it's nice to be seen; we can do that much for each other, and it makes life better. So, you acknowledging me, your friend, and calling out racism... those make a good difference, a thoughtful connection. When I think of this idea of how good it feels to be acknowledged, respected, and I think of the larger picture, like Black people asking, pleading, for racist institutions and policies to be dismantled, begging to breath! And they're ignored, told "not like that, not today, wait," then I cannot wonder at their rage, their exhaustion, their insisting "Enough!" I feel it too: Enough! I see the harm and I don't want to be a part of it, I want to help dismantle the system.

martine said...

Hi. Visiting your blog utterly by chance, scrolling through lovely photos of your life and then find this amazing honest, open piece of writing at the bottom. I hope the time has come where more and more people will talk about what they experience and make others listen. Thank you for sharing.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Hello, Martine~
Thank you... for your thoughtful comment. It's not an easy thing to do, to write and publish what I am thinking. I am always relieved to get some feedback; a hint that I said anything that made sense to someone.
I've been doing a lot of listening, too.