The new US president—aided, abetted, and manipulated by the unholy choir of white supremacists and power-drunk opportunists that surrounds him—seems bent on tying, if not beating, that world-creating record as he sets about the process of destroying it.
Holy crap. I mean…
How to even begin to resist?
With the Word, I ‘spose. If I’m sticking with tradition, I begin with the word. And in this situation, that word is me. My resistance must begin with me.
* * *
Let me be clear: I want to save myself.
First, last, every day in between. Myself.
So do you. It’s human nature; it’s survival instinct; it’s why we don’t yet breed in cannisters but cling to the fleshy stickiness of bodies and lusts, new life emerging blood-covered and squalling.
I want to save myself most, and so do you.
Now. If I misunderstand this basic fact, I can’t serve justice. It is my own judgment that I confront in the mirror at the end of each day, after all.
Dear Random Man on the Street Who Kept Talking to Me Until I Finally Looked at Him,
Thanks so much for picking me out of a crowded sidewalk of people to talk to. I was moved, almost really!
I mean, it sounded like you recognized me from somewhere, with all that babbling “hey, how are you, hey sweetheart, how you been doing.” As if you wanted to check in on what’s been up with me since the last time we talked.
Or rather, since the last time you talked to any totally random woman on the street. Because one thing I’m sure we agree on: who I am beyond “woman” doesn’t matter in this interaction.
In case you were wondering: no, I didn’t think you were dangerous (unless it turned out you were). And no, I didn’t you were going to follow me (unless it turned out you did). And no, I didn’t feel sexually objectified by our encounter (unless we’re gonna count the fact that it is men—always and only—who make this kind of you-owe-me-your-attention-cuz-I-called-you-sweetheart move on women. Also always and only).
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]
“Be what you are becoming without clinging to what you might have been; what you might yet be.” ~ Luce Irigaray, “Ce Sexe Qui N’Est Pas Un”
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There is a hypothetical, posed as an ethical dilemma, in which you find yourself adrift on the ocean in a lifeboat overfilled with survivors, and the group must decide who to toss out. Do you cast overboard people least likely to survive under any circumstances — the sick, the elderly, small children — or do you put the healthiest into the drink — the strongest swimmers, with the best hopes of enduring?
I have never understood why this is a dilemma: I will go overboard the moment we know someone must. I go overboard if I’m healthy; I go overboard if I’m frail and haven’t dogpaddled in over a decade.
I do not wait to see first who can be coerced to drown in my stead. I go overboard because the value of the many is infinite.
“My family drank fluoridated water from the city taps when I was born, over 40 years ago. We lived in newly built housing close to a well-maintained park; my mother bought fresh produce at a nearby grocery and weekend farmers’ markets. When my parents moved out of the city a few years later, I found myself in a verdant suburb with expansive lawns, a gurgling neighborhood creek, and air so fresh I never thought to notice it.
Year after cavity-free year of my childhood, dentists and hygienists praised my superior flossing and brushing skills as if I had created that outcome—though in reality, my tooth-cleaning habits were no different from those of any other child.
I carry the bodily imprint of my racial privilege right down to the strength of my teeth.
The families and children of Flint, Michigan, have also been drinking water that changes the makeup of their bodies…”