I am listening.

I am listening to the anguish, rage, and fear being expressed by my Black friends and colleagues. I am listening to Black writers and other public figures.

Understand: I have anguish and rage of my own (and other feelings also) about the violent murders of Anton Sterling and Philando Castile this week by agents of the State, sworn to serve and protect its citizens. I have anguish and rage…and not-fear. I am not terrorized by the entrenched systems of White Supremacy and anti-Blackness that exist at the heart of my country. That are the history of my nation. I am these systems’ beneficiary. I own that fact, even as I work to oppose and dismantle them—and in this moment of Black mourning, I choose listening.

I have anguish and rage of my own (and other feelings also) about the sniper fire that interrupted a Black Lives Matter protest last night in Dallas, killing at least 5 police officers and wounding others. Details are still trickling in.

And I am listening.

I am listening as if my life depended on it.

For Black lives surely do.


Postscript: In my non-blogging life, one of my commitments is curating social media content for an organization dedicated to racial and social justice. I am considering writing a post about specific and concrete ways that I and other white people can contribute to anti-racist, anti-White Supremacist work in the world. (The reaction to my posts re. the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Florida got me thinking there might be a hunger for this among the folks that read CaaBP.)

If you follow this blog and would be interested in reading ideas about what we as white people can do, please let me know in the comments or by email. [coffeeandablankpage(at)gmail(dot)com]

41 thoughts on “Listening

  1. Hi Alice. I discovered you today and am so glad I did! Your story about the end of your marriage, the one about being someone who has submitted, vs. someone who is submissive, was especially moving to me. Your writing is hard, strange, and beautiful. Yes! Please! Do share with your audience any thoughts you might have about helping those whose well-being is most threatened by the rising authoritarian, patriarchal, white nationalism that seems to be sweeping our nation and planet. We are in urgent need of hard, strange, beautiful ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for this, Katie. We do indeed need “hard, strange, beautiful ideas” for resistance in the days to come — and too, I would say, hard strange beautiful ways to love and cleave to one another still, in the midst of that resistance.


    1. Thank you–and thanks for sharing this link!
      Empathy is often touted as the key component in developing understanding of another, a position I agree with–but only up to a point. Empathy has greater value and importance, seems to me, intragroup than across groups. As you well argue, empathy ceases to have benefit when it becomes a tool of recentering whiteness (or masculinity, or cisgender-ness, or straightness, etc). I must have faith in the humanity of other people, and in the truth of their lives as they share those with me, whether I can imagine myself “in their shoes” or not.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Excellent point! I agree that empathy is essential and indispensable to our relations with our people.

        What I am discussing here is a phenomena whereby “empathy” is used in such a way that other groups are rendered invisible – as the Beck piece demonstrates. In this instance, empathy becomes an opportunity for self-reflection (narcissism).

        Maybe I will edit my original post so the subtle difference I am making is clearer =)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Lol, understood. Nonetheless, I amended the post to read:

          “To be clear, empathy is essential to human understanding and is not, in itself, problematic. But I am arguing that since racism is a system of power imbalances, our ability to “relate” to others is severely hindered”.

          Thanks for helping me clarify that point! =D

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes please, Alice… we would welcome some concrete ways that we can be supportive in meaningful ways.

    I appreciate ALL your posts, but feel drawn to your social justice posts in particular… and the hysterical ones, of course! =) =)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for caring, I am on the other side of the world in South Africa, and I am not black nor white, but I care tremendously about peoples lives and not their pigmentation. We see what is happening in your country but we also see that our country is at war too. We need to change our attitudes and our minds need to shift. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No doubt. Racism, injustice, patriarchy, oppression: nowhere is free from these struggles, yet every place experiences them in ways particular to that community, and that community’s history.
      Thank you for the caring you bring into the world as well.
      alice ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It takes a lot to change the culture of policing, but what’s required is not unknown. From what I’ve been reading about the Dallas PD, the commissioner there has really turned the climate around over the past 4 years by implementing a series of reforms and best practices — and the improvement across-the-board has been significant. I hope the recent atrocity does not diminish support for his leadership!


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