So Angie Writes – Life's A Challenge, So Angie Writes!

So Angie Writes – Life's A Challenge, So Angie Writes!

Trauma Recovery – Shame Resilience – Self-Compassion – Coping With Chronic Pain

How White Privilege Lets Us Clock Out Of Discomfort, And Why We Shouldn’t

August 21, 2014 | 12 Comments

We tiptoe in
The water’s uncomfortable
Clinging to clothes
Causing a drag

We look around
Blood runs like a river
A mother wails
The horror grips

We’re temporarily moved
In air wafting nostalgic
Squinting our eyes
As history blazes

The light is too much
We feel so exposed
Shrinking back,
We sigh and clock out

This is white privilege
An asset unchosen
And now that we know
Let’s do better

So Angie Writes poem on white privilege I’m feeling unsettled about my ability to tune in and back out when Ferguson news becomes too much. For many people, clocking out of racial injustice isn’t an option. When Trayvon Martin was murdered, my neighbor asked me to drive her teenage sons to their nearby schools. She was terrified they’d be targeted if one toe left the sidewalk, “What if they jump a fence, or take a short-cut across someone’s lawn?” This is when I first felt the weight of awareness. The truth is, the general anxiety I feel around raising my white boys is nothing compared to the fear she felt for her black sons. As white people we need to wake up and pay attention. The unrest in Ferguson is nothing new. We’ve just not been watching. But now we’re watching. We’re tweeting and facebooking. We’re tuning in to live-streams and we’re donating. We’re having uncomfortable conversations. We’re calling out racism, in ourselves, and in others.

I’m unsure I’m even saying acceptable things. But I’m taking risks, because I’ve realized staying silent in the face of the systematic dehumanization of the black community is not going to help bring about change. In fact, turning a blind eye to racial injustice is like saying “I know this is happening on my peripheral, but I’m choosing to stay safe in my privilege.” I’m tired of staying safe in my privilege while other mothers live day to day with a brick of fear in their bellies. I’m choosing discomfort.

I’ve bought the book Waking Up White: and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving, as was recommended by blogger Black Girl In Maine. I am dedicated to learning more, and to not shutting up about Ferguson. I believe we all need to stay in this discomfort, because only this will keep us focused on change.

I leave you with these important words from another blogger, Awesomely Luvvie,

Speaking up when it matters is usually when it’s also the hardest. When your voice shakes, that’s when you’re standing in truth. But that’s usually when it is most needed. And when you do it, someone else might be encouraged to do the same. Do not be silent.

More related reading-

A Mother’s White Privilege by Manic Pixie Dream Mama
Dear White Moms by Bonbon Break
Affected by Karen Walrond

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12 people are talking about “How White Privilege Lets Us Clock Out Of Discomfort, And Why We Shouldn’t

  1. This blog post needs to be shared outside your normal circles. I don’t know how, or who, but the words are so poignant, the emotions so raw, that you could wake some people up. Rachael Maddow, Melissa Harris Parry, Chris Hayes, someone!?!

  2. Thanks for writing this. I’ve been thinking about writing about race for awhile (before Mike Brown). But I’ve been scared. I do a lot of lurking on Twitter to learn more about how to do this correctly – which is both educational and yet still perpetuates the fear. I see black women call out white women for not speaking up. But also for doing so and (unknowingly) saying the wrong things. I want to be supportive. I don’t want to inadvertently cause more harm. And I’m still unsure how to strike that balance.

    • Angie

      Thanks for reading and commenting! <3 I feel afraid of saying the wrong things too, and not just about racial issues. I think that if we fuck up, and someone calls us out, we are people who will be able to restrain our immediate reactions and ego bruises while we take the time to learn. Then, we'll do better. This is going to be tricky, vulnerable, difficult work. But kids are dying in the streets, and we have to weigh our discomfort with that fact. Did you read Luvvie's entire post? I made her quote above clickable. Her post talks about how she wants white allies to speak out, and I've seen other women say the same things. I was really scared to publish this post today, but just feel like the time has come for a movement of vulnerability in the face of these horrors.

  3. I will read it now. I did see A’Driane read her post at BlogHer and it was powerful. I have been lurking/following a few black feminists on Twitter for about a year learning about how mainstream feminism does not include them. I have learned a lot. But I am still scared. I guess you’re right, at some point you gotta just do it and hope people are kind when they tell you you are wrong. Because I am bound to get it wrong sometimes – it’s not my reality. I try to check my privilege but you can’t really. It’s not like a coat, I can’t take it off.

    • Angie

      I just watched A’Driane’s video of that speech today! Powerful. I loved her voice. I hear ya, we can’t take it off, it’s on us. But it’s good to be learning. I’m going to start the book Waking Up White tonight.

  4. OK, Luvvie’s post = read. On the one hand I have not been silent. I have RT’d the hell out of this on 2 different accounts. I have posted articles on Facebook. I have not been silent. My friends know where I stand on this issue. But I feel like it’s not enough. So I will strive to do more.

    • Angie

      I know you have. With Michael Brown’s death, I did the same thing as I did with Trayvon Martin’s. I spent a few days just amplifying the black voices in my spaces. Then I started to speak out a bit. I was living next to black neighbors then, as I detailed above, so it was easier to just love on those families and do what they asked me to do. I did a lot of nodding and hugging and driving and picking up and watching out and holding and such. But this time, I feel it’s an opportunity to extend the conversation outside of my comfortable spaces. I hope the book I’m going to read helps me do that.

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