Wednesday Wisdom: Racism

After another death of a black human, there is nothing I can say to express my emotions in a way that is meaningful enough. As a white woman, I have the privilege of education, health care, financial security, and a non-prejudiced gaze from people in positions of power. I have never been threatened by violence from a stranger. Nothing I say can compare to the voices of men and women of color who reap the trauma of inherited oppression. The systemic nature of patriarchy and a culture intent on capitalizing from division serves to scapegoat its failures onto the vulnerable, to break them down, to trod over them like dirt.

“I can’t breathe.”

The words of George Floyd have spoken for humanity. My stomach clenches when I say his words out loud. Tears pool in my eyes. I’m sickened by the spectrum of what it means to be American.

Equality demands a transfer of power: that the vulnerable will acquire freedom from scorn and classification, and the powerful will serve the traumatized with compassion. Yet we see the opposite in our political landscape. We feel the triangulation, the bared teeth of party affiliations, the lack of leadership. Narcissism is a new face wearing an old hat. The tactics strive to break us down and disorient our vision, to instill competition between allies, to discern powerless from omnipotent.

I grew up learning surrender as a socially responsible female action, believing my lack of boundaries was an extension of compassion. Gaslit and convinced of my inferiority, I was told to be nice. By young adulthood, I had no defense against the bullies in my life. Imagine the trauma.

Imagine doing nothing for change. The how is less important than the why. Trauma can not heal until the threat is removed and safety is secured for longevity. It is unsustainable to maintain relationships built on power and surrender, just like it is unsustainable for humanity to exist on polarized means. It takes great courage to disassemble foundations, but we are better than what was built for us.

For an impactful voice on racism, read Notes on White Guilt by Jennifer Neal.

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