This morning, shortly after I woke up, I posted some “New Rules,” a la Bill Maher, but not to support him, rather to match my own thinking… and I’d like to expand upon one in particular before I turn in.
This new rule is something I myself have worked to fully incorporate into my life both online and in the real world, and I am making strides but it’s not something I think I will ever say, “Ah, well, cross that one off the list; it’s done.”
Here it is:
I am a woman of white privilege, and no matter how hard I try — and I do — I’ll never, ever, EVER be able to grasp what it means to live as a black person in America. Or any person of color. Especially not a trans person of color. Especially not a trans woman of color.
My new rule of “STOP” means this: when a person of color shares with you their experience, and what life decisions they make accordingly, do not judge them and add your two cents — about anything.
Even if you struggle, too.
Even if you disagree or have another point of view.
Even if your first thought is, “well, from my perspective…”
What every single white person I know does is immediately think, “that’s not my experience.” I do it, too. And what should, in my opinion, happen next, is for us to go:
Think on it. Ponder. Share. Let your action be to raise up the voice of someone who doesn’t have your privilege. Not to point out the difference between us.
‘Cuz I’ve learned one thing: they already know the difference. There is no need nor any point to be made.
And to those who dismiss someone using the term “violence” to describe how someone feels when they are oppressed, even though it may be verbal or through an action not typically associated with physical violence, I encourage you to take the time to understand and grow, rather than reject out of hand something that does not come from your experience.
“It’s oppression on top of oppression to dictate how oppressed people should rebel.” — Unknown.
The thing I’m talking about here is intersectionality. As Sherry Hamby wrote:
“The burden of violence and victimization remains markedly unequal. The prevalence rates, risk factors, and consequences of violence are not equally distributed across society. Rather, there are many groups that carry an unequal burden, including groups disadvantaged due to race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual identity, place of residence, and other factors.”
It must STOP.
I do not write this to rant or pontificate but to raise up the voices of others. I’m not going to name names, but when I tried to share one person’s insight and solicited the thoughts and comments of my friends, that person fled, feeling attacked. She told me she felt victimized by violent and racist comments.
Not one of you will agree that your comments were racist.
Not one of you will agree that your comments were violent.
Not one of you will agree that you attacked her.
STOP. LOOK. LISTEN:
The point is not whether you intended to be racist, to be violent, to attack someone. Perception is reality. And I can see how these comments hurt her, but I was powerless to add my voice to support her because before I could notice there was an assault on her, she withdrew the post I had shared from my wall, blocked those of you who offended her, and blocked me from seeing it now. That is her right; it’s hers, and she felt attacked, and is justified in responding to those attacks as she sees fit.
I did see at one point the accusation that she played “the race card.” Several folks said to me that she “introduced” race into the conversation, and that you didn’t see it as an issue of race.
And let me just point out to you one thing each of you who said that to me share: every one of you, including me, is white. To sum up, the black woman said she felt the comments were racist, and the white women and men told her, “it’s not racism.”
There is no “race card.” Race is not something you get to deal, or fold, or shuffle so that you wind up with a better hand. It’s not the same as gender, because even though most of us are stuck with whatever we’re dealt, at least we who are transgender are at long last able to tell the dealer they made a mistake. It doesn’t improve our hand all that much, but
I can only imagine what it is like to be both transgender and a member of a race that is oppressed. What I am learning is to not judge, and to listen instead of speak.
And that, in my opinion, is a good place to start.