Dear Straight White People,
Hey there. How are you? Not all straight white people. Specifically the ones who have never been civic-minded or politically engaged prior to this year. I gather a lot of you are let down and worried about your rights and the world in general since 11/9/16. I hear you. I have been worried about them since the orange became the GOP nominee back in March (and frankly, that entire field had me worried), so I feel you.
So newbies, let us have chat since we will be allies against the patriarchy. At the risk of sounding jaded and cynical, the purpose of this open letter is to ask you, the newly plugged in straight white person, is to not act brand new. So you ran by a park and saw a bunch of different races, genders, potentially orientations, and ages together, having a good time, maybe laughing and you think ‘Oh my God how great is America’s diversity?’ That’s nice you noticed that. What would have been nicer is if you bothered to notice those things prior to now.
This is like watching someone ‘discover’ blue and yellow make green for the first time. We all know this happens, how nice you know now, but then you go and publish a paper talking about light refraction and hand angles when using the crayon to blend, and you have lost the thread of the fact that everyone already knew yellow and blue make green, which means how it happens is already established. You are adding nothing new to my conversation, so please forgive me if I don’t react with awe.
I find this new awakening to the diversity that surrounds us a blessing, the more we move away from the ‘but i have that one <INSERT ETHNIC GROUP NAME HERE> friend’ mentality (because we finally realize minorities don’t exist to be representative of each other), the better we all become. But Imma need you to realize those people probably have been meeting at that park every other Sunday for three years, the only difference is you JUST NOW noticed. The diversity around you always existed, do not waste time pointing it out and reveling in the fact that you [probably] NEVER CONSIDERED THE LIVES OF OTHERS prior to this. Again, great that you are, but just accept it as normal and move on, I have been told that is how we normalize things. Diversity of people and beliefs, and the freedom to be different is what America was founded on (in part), even though that pillar of our great society is crumbling and in danger.
So why am I out here venting ?
As minority woman it is sobering to hear (realize) that not many people were busy thinking about my struggle prior to this. And even then, it is more of a ‘now that all our struggles are terrible, let’s band together attitude.’ I (and millions of others) mattered before 11/9/16. I know that may not be how your reveling in the diversity of America is intended, and I know it sounds like I am shitting all over your idealism, but who are YOU to tell ME how I feel? I listened to you tell me how you felt. I existed prior to today; My worries, family, friends, and struggles existed prior to today. You are just now realizing my existence, of which I was aware of for 30+ years. Your personal narrative of your color-blind awakening doesn’t do me any favors and is more of a distraction from the action that needs to be taken. So what, you woke now, how are you going to spend your day?
Why is this important?
I don’t want to hear about blue + yellow = green. I know this. What are we going to do with the green now that we have it? How do we use this already existing knowledge to better our situation? Well, just accepting it is step one. Diverse people are not an exhibit in a zoo to point at and move on from. The memory of Harambe sticks with people more than the thought ‘how may this affect my neighbor/friend/lady down the street?’ This is important because as an intersectional feminist, I don’t want the progressive movement to get too patrician. What do I mean by that? You know how America was ‘discovered’ by a lost Portuguese man in service to the Spanish Royalty? Well hate to burst your bubble but America is stolen land, it is conquered land (much like all world powers once started); America’s creation myth is an example of what I mean by patrician. The conquerors dictated the origin story, a bunch of scrappy castaways from Europe unified and tamed the wild people and frontiers of the new world…the part about how America became great (genocide and slavery) isn’t often touted. My point is, if we accept the diversity surrounding us as normal, then those voices will be expected at the table when it comes time to talk strategy, resources, leadership, etc., not have to be specifically invited. New America will be created with all voices having equal weight.
Basically, great you are aware of more beyond yourself and your immediate family unit, now what? Welcome to the movement, we have some work to do.
Love, Kindness, and Respect,