We Posted on FB. We Marched. Now What?
As I write this, there are tens of thousands of individuals marching across the streets of Boston to show their support against the ‘White Supremacist’ hate groups. As I write this, I am watching videos, and reading articles celebrating this monumental victory against hate. People are speaking of hope, of the truth, and a million other positive things that I should be feeling too, but I am not. Honestly, I do not love calling things out. If it was up to me I’d buy a cabin in the woods and never discuss anything related to mainstream society again, but I can’t do that, because systemic oppression is still alive and well, and needs to go.
The reason I am not happy with all this, is because it will be used as another example of how small this problem is. People will say look at the 40K people that marched against the 200 that showed up for hate. Our society is inherently ‘good’, and it’s only a select few that are the problem. This is when I roll my eyes and take a deep breath, and look out my windshield at the Colorado Mountains I am not enjoying as much because I need to write this. If the idea of a ‘good’ person is that they show up to protests against individuals carrying torches, and vote for the lesser of two evils then congratulations, you’re good. But if a good person is one that stands against all forms of systemic oppression and is accountable for their role in upholding those systems, and do everything they can to change things; because they know that until things change, they are the same as everyone else gaining privilege due to the oppression of others, then there are very, very few good people out there. No, I am not saying this because I am hopeless, I am saying this because there’s real hope in change, but that change will never happen if we continue patting ourselves and each other on the back and saying we’re the good ones. If there was a good certification according to the latter standard, most of us would fail. But that doesn’t have to be the way things are.
If you marched today, good for you, that’s awesome, but I ask you what are you doing in your daily life to stand up to White Supremacy, Capitalism, Imperialism, Patriarchy, Ableism, and all other forms of systemic oppression. Are you having these conversations with your immediate and extended families? Are you having them with your neighbors and friends? Are you having them with your communities? Are you having them with your employers? Are you having them with yourselves? Are you talking about how you’re going to go home after the protests are over and still gain privilege because of those 200 people that showed up to uphold hate? Are you talking about how others will never be able to run away from those 200 people, and from you? Are you talking about how you may be causing psychic trauma every single day to individuals that are dealing with this oppression regularly?
This past week I had an incredibly negative experience around Charlottesville that literally ended a friendship that I thought would last for years. If your definition of good is the former, and the moment someone asks you why you weren’t there and you blame them for not inviting you to do the right thing, then I don’t want your support. You might turn around and do the right thing after, but at the cost of my Mental Well-being.
So what next? Normally I try ending these articles with next steps for the readers. Today, I am writing next steps for myself, and perhaps for some others who are also watching all these ‘good’ people show up when it’s convenient for them and never showing up on a daily basis when we really need them.
1. I will continue having these conversations with my communities: the Muslim community, the Disability Community, the Middle Eastern Community, the Non-US citizen community, and any other community I choose as my own.
2. I will center my wellness instead of yours. This means that I will no longer have these conversations with individuals when they don’t show up or if they are not part of my community. You want to show up great, but I am going to be very wary of your privilege shame.
3. I will continue going to therapy and constantly discussing the trauma caused from systemic oppression, and all the ‘good’ people out there.
4. I will find support and solace in others that are trying to change things, including the definition of ‘good’.
5. I will continue to support grassroot organizations that will be there fighting for our rights when the dust settles and the ‘good’ people go back to their lives when there’s less visibility to White Supremacy.
6. I will continue challenging my role in upholding systems of oppression, and reminding myself that until these systems are dismantled I will still gain privilege from many of them.
7. I will continue doing everything I can to build safe spaces where individuals can belong and be safe from systemic oppression, even for just a moment.
8. I will continue standing up to my family, friends, and anyone in my life when they uphold systemic oppression.
9. I will continue bringing these conversation’s up in every sphere that I am a part of, including but not limited to, my work, my communities, my medical team, and any other space I am a part of where my privilege allows me to bring these conversations to the spot light.
10. I will support individuals in achieving true ‘goodness’, and will continue calling out the things that might seem like they’re making us good but are in fact just upholding the status quo.
If we want a revolution, we must be willing to change. We must be ready to lose our privilege. Are you ready for that? I ask myself every day if I am ready for it. If I am ready to live in a world where I am just like everyone else and I do not have an edge on people with darker skin and people more foreign looking than I. Am I ready to live in a world where being male does not automatically grant me privilege over women? Am I ready to be seen as disabled? Am I ready to be treated like the rest of the LGBTQ+ community? I didn’t add these questions to the list above; because these are things that are a part of every single one of the points above. Unless I have the answer to these questions, none of the above will matter. If I am not willing to lose my privilege then I am doing everything above for my own sake of feeling ‘good’, and not with the intent of real change where oppressive systems are dismantled.