Walking White and Checking Myself
I was there. I walked with the crowds on Saturday at the Women’s March. I can’t say I marched, because my energy wasn’t a marching energy…I was walking, observing and wondering. I was there for my children more than anything. Kind of sounds lame, but that’s what was up for me. The thing is, I was conflicted about the March and honestly, I wasn’t planning on going. But early Saturday morning, because I gotta keep it real here, our friend, Nikki, sent me a text asking where we were meeting up, so there you go…we met up. This was the third time our sons would be marching together and they are only 12 years old. That right there was reason to go. Activism is a family value in our home…we show up.
I’ve marched before. And as a white woman that’s been unpacking and learning about my own white privilege for many years now, I was conflicted about the Women’s March. I was conflicted about it for several reasons, one of them being that I knew I’d meet many white women that were fired up as a result of the recent attack on women’s rights and I wasn’t sure how I would react to those conversations. I didn’t trust myself to be open and compassionate to their passion.
You see, I’ve been trying to reach many of these women in the moments and days after a Black Mother has had to bury her child because of the color of his/her skin. I’ve been wondering why there isn’t the same rage and outcry at the way Black and Brown people are treated. When white women think about the future for their daughters, the emotions are fierce, and as we all know from Saturday, the turnout is fierce. Why wouldn’t those same emotions get triggered when, for example, we have to explain another unjust killing or incarceration after a minor traffic violation because of skin color? #sandrabland #philandocastile
I know the emotions are there, somewhere, and I’ve been trying to connect at that level because all children are our own children. But it’s not just the emotions that are important and valid, it’s the information, the opportunity gaps, and lack of understanding and education about racism, white supremacy, the systems, the discrimination and all the inner biases that continue to have incredible negative impacts on whole communities.
Injustice is injustice.
But that’s not what is played out. The bubbles are real and they are dangerous. That is what is upsetting. It summons up the kind of anger that motivates and launches me into action.
Marching is not the kind of action that gives me hope for change. I wish it did, but it doesn’t. I suppose there are times when it does but the reality is that many people march and then check it off their to-do list. In my moments of optimism (thank God for those), I know seeds can be planted that might sprout and grow, but that kind of inspired hope did not move me.
Now, when white women march for the first time for Black Lives Matter or for Immigration Reform, I feel hope in all the powerful ways that give me goose bumps (kind of like the goose bumps you get from Sagashus Levingston’s speech). When I follow the lead of women that do not feel the protection that privilege offers and I attempt to walk in her shoes, see the world through her lens and fight for her and her family’s rights as much as I would fight for the rights of my children, I feel united, motivated and passionate about human rights for all. That feeling moves me.
This seems a bit judgey right now. My facebook feed is full of smiling selfies with pink pussy hats and creative protest signs. The energy is high, it’s great, and I know the sheer numbers of those marching across the globe has huge historical meaning. But if I’m not real here, I’m not living the out loud life I want to live. I must continue to check myself and my privilege.
As I walked with my family and friends, I prayed that when the time comes, because it will come again, all these amazing, brave souls will show up with as much conviction and as much courage to demand justice for our Brown and Black sisters and brothers. I also prayed that the work I do and will continue to do is the kind of work that will help move our community in the right direction for those most marginalized and that my passion for justice will be channeled for positive impact.
Keep working. Keep hoping. Keep praying. Keep learning. Keep loving. Keep believing.
Keep on keeping on. Here we go!