Looking around it's easy to notice just how visible the lines of White Supremacy are within our country and every system within it. You can see it within our government, our education systems, our law enforcement, our corporations, even within our non-profits. You can see it almost everywhere. The question that will occasionally get tossed around is why did we not see it? How were we oblivious to so much, for so long? And we thank Donald Trump for helping uncover this brand of hate all around us.
This line of questioning assumes that we, as the collective, were impervious to ALL of this, that Donald Trump has somehow uncovered something that no one else knew about. This is where we need to take a step forward, and question ourselves as individuals rather than communities. Because the right question is why did I not know about this? Why did I not see it? Because the reality is that this has always been going on. And there have always been individuals speaking out against it.
People have given their their lives and everything that they are fighting these systems of oppression for hundreds of years. The right question, is why I didn't see it? Why I didn't hear the oppressed speaking up? Why was I not listening? Because only then will each, and almost every single one of us, begin to identify the White Supremacy that has conditioned our hearts. Only then, will you be able to identify the oppressive systems in your life that are causing you to live in ignorance.
By focusing on us as a collective, you take away all the sacrifices and the hard work of tens of generations before us, and instead of building off of their work you break their work down, in the name of White Supremacy and the other systems.
This does not take away from our failure as a community to collectively see and hear everything that has been happening all around for centuries. But this failure is not because the oppressed and those that have been woke for centuries were not speaking loud enough. No. This failure is because we have grown to love our white supremacy, our patriarchy, our imperialism, our capitalism and all other systems of oppression.
We have grown comfortable with the benefits that systems of oppression supply us, and the privilege they entitle us over other groups, any other group, because let's be honest, not all Whites benefit the same, not all men benefit the same, not all classes benefit the same, and so on and so forth. But the system is ever evolving, and will always offer up another group to be beneath you or me, anytime it is threatened. And we, in our conditioning, support it.
But Donald Trump should not be thanked for the visibility that you currently have into a system that has been invisible to you despite the cries of outrage that have surrounded you your entire life. Donald Trump is not to be thanked, just like Hitler is not to be thanked for bringing out the White Supremacy and xenophobia that the Germans and other Europeans had at the time. Donald Trump does not deserve our gratitude just like the KKK does not deserve it, or ISIS or any other group that has showed the mainstream the hate that exists in the world. If you are waking up, it's not because of Donald Trump, it's because of the work that millions have done for centuries now to expose this system.
Once we identify why we have not been listening, and all the areas we're conditioned to live our lives to enhance oppressive systems hold on our society, then, and only then can we start building a better society. But ask yourself, do you really want that? Do you really want to have everyone on a level playing field? The end to white supremacy, patriarchy, imperialism and many other systems of oppression would mean drastic consequences to each of our lives., some far more than others. And yet, very few of us have actually thought about how these systems benefit us, and again, there is not a group of people that does not benefit in the smallest of ways by one or more of these systems. When asked if white supremacy, patriarchy or any other form of oppression's effects need to be addressed, most people would say absolutely. But ask them to rid themselves of their privilege, and we get very different answers.
We each have an unlimited amount of power when it comes to our decisions, we can literally change the world by making a decision or not making it, and unless we make a decision, things do not change. Once we decide, choosing to end these systems of oppression, they will end, but believe or not we haven't decided yet. We are still uncomfortable with our privilege, with the pain that we have caused others, and talking about the systems of oppression that we continue to carry. We have not decided to end oppression for all. We have leaned into the systems of oppression, begging for more privilege for over a century, but we are not united in our stance against oppression and the systems that fuel it.
So what will it be? Are you ready to turn your back on your privilege, and use it only to break down the systems of oppression? Or are you comfortable with the privilege you receive because of the oppression of others?
Ahmad Abojaradeh is the Co-Founder of Muslim Community Link, An Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, a Novelist and the founder and editor of Life in My Days. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness through his writing, workshops and speaker events. Follow Ahmad on twitter, instagram or facebook.