Sitting & Listening

From my Tumblr Feed:
Dear White Friend,
Your job in racial discussions is mostly to listen and ask questions. When you speak over PoC it’s not only disrespectful but it makes it painfully obvious that you really have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about.
Sincerely,
your friends of colour

I Am Listening

dalai-lama
I am watching as increasingly negative, even hateful, memes/quotes/commentaries about White people flow like lava from an exploding volcano on my Tumblr feed. Sure, I Followed them willingly and I could just as easily, with the click of my mouse, Unfollow those blogs, but I think it behooves me to sit in my discomfort and listen to what is being said. Even when the words say, “I hate all White people.” Especially then.
At the moment, the words are floating around me; I am absorbing as fast as I can, but it is a challenge. I feel like an overfull sponge trying to take in another flood of liquid.
I am pretty sure this is where the Unlearning & Relearning comes in, right? To unload some/many/most of those old beliefs I have from a White-oriented American school education and growing up in a White-oriented life… and relearn as many facts/realities/experiences from Blacks/People of Color/people I don’t know very much about.

Why Am I Listening?

yes-and-noflat

I am listening because I want to learn how to “unpack my White privilege” and (for a start) use my privilege to shut other white people making racist comments up. I don’t know the words yet, but I feel them percolating inside, preparing to coalesce into ideas, then a couple of words, then sentences… and finally into arguments/demands for someone to shut the fuck up with their racist bullshit. I want to use my White voice in a way that shows respect and honors Blacks who walk in hate in America. (Especially now that Hate-Garbage is being hurled at Blacks and People of Color at an horrific rate.)

I acknowledge speaking up is barely anything meaningful… and for me, speaking up is often online and in writing, however, for me, it is a start.

listen

6 thoughts on “Sitting & Listening

  1. You are a strong woman! I had to remove someone from my feed when they posted #KillALLwhites and #Killwhitey on their feed. Is it meant to be a threat? Is is meant to be a signal for help, a signal about how much they are suffering? To me it’s a message of violence and hatred. And I don’t think that’s the way, no matter how much pain someone is in. That language and behavior is destructive and breeds more hate. So where is the line drawn for how much we as white people have to listen and obey? If someone of color says that you have to let them run you over with a car because they are suffering, is this action justified because how much pain they are in? I feel the same about their hateful words toward white people. Find the people who are doing wrong and mediate them. Calling all white people out and creating suffering for everyone isn’t the solution. I HEAR the words, and understand the dire situation, but I’m not a magic wand. I can’t fix everything. I’m doing what I can in my life with the tools I have with the people I’m connected to. Why is it fair for me to be judged by my skin color? This is such a strange situation. White people have grown up and didn’t have a choice in how they were raised. We’re being shamed and guilt tripped into being brought up the way we did and nothing we do is good enough. Everyone has suffering. My actions alone will not relive all suffering. The only thing I can count on is to relieve suffering from the people I encounter in my life by releasing my own first.

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    1. I’ll reply as soon as I have a few min to pay the proper respect to your words, Ms. White (brilliant, btw).

      Hopefully tomorrow.

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. They are wonderful and so thought provoking!

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    2. Ms. White,

      It has taken days for me to be able to process this. I apologize for the delay.

      You bring up so many brilliant points I want to carry the whole comment on a sandwich board so I can say: See! See! A White person has a cogent response to all the hate coming at us! With your permission, I might make the comment a blog post on its own; I think it deserves some serious air-time.

      Curious. How often do you write about this topic? Is this comment part of an ongoing processing? Or was this a stream of consciousness piece. How long has it taken you to come to these understandings? The car analogy in particular.

      In The Maze, I write about my POV as well as my cublet’s. Yours adds a third option – one of balance and an amazing perspective that I, in all my years, am not even near possessing.

      I am glad you are commenting and look SO forward to future thoughts if you feel so inclined. You really are amazing and have helped me find words I didn’t know I even needed. Thank you for helping me not feel so hated and that I should sit and take it all, no matter what it is.

      Thank you so very much.

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      1. NavelgazingWriter,

        I appreciate you taking the time you needed to fully process and respond in a heart centered way. I am more than happy to lend my words to you in support of your journey. To answer your questions, I only write about this topic occasionally and it’s usually in private journals. The comment I wrote to you was the result of a few months of processing in response to Alton Brown being shot July 5, 2016 and flowed freely and uninhibited out of my fingers as I typed. After I pressed the send button on your website, I thought for a moment that I lost the comment, but felt safe that I knew exactly what I wrote because it’s alive inside of me.

        My compassion runs deeply as I see humanity’s suffering and fear build into hatred and violence. Initially, during my processing of racial issues, I was very confused about how I felt and where my place was in this fight due to my own racial identity and story of non oppression. This has been a 7 year journey of wavering in and out of the discussion and finally becoming comfortable enough to speak freely to strangers about the topic, knowing I come from a place of compassion and love. During those 7 years, I uncomfortably fell into a position that was defensive of people of color, and accusatory of all white people, myself included, accepting the blame and the guilt, while also taking the stance that racism is solely defined as institutionalized racism and neglecting the fact that that idea persecutes all white people disregarding their individual actions and behaviors.

        Through all this listening and learning how to be an ally, I had to go inward to decide for myself what the answer would be. There are too many people in this world, commanding me what to think, and how to act. I have the power to choose and I choose love. I will acknowledge others suffering and do what I can to relieve it and as long as I have enough to give, I will give it. I will nurture myself as much as I need to ensure my ability to continue caring for others who are in pain. I choose to be a guide for people who are ready to go into themselves to find their inner strength to relieve suffering from the external world by honoring their pain and consciously moving forward by empowering them to choose a path that brings them joy. I’ve seen people of color doing this and white people alike. This is the path I choose. This brings me joy and is in alignment with my heart.

        Love and only Love,
        Ms. White

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