Monday, August 14, 2017

We are like this. We ARE like this. We are LIKE this.

And we have to mourn this and we have to be sad that we live in a town, a state, a country where shit like this happens. I mean, these are people trying to distance themselves from this crime. And we need to own this crime. I feel. Everyone needs to own it. We are like this. We ARE like this. WE are LIKE this.
Time and time again, this quote from The Laramie Project pops back in my head. Every time there's an extreme act of violence, the "good" people have a knee-jerk reaction: they say "this is not us" or "we are not like this." It's the "good" cishet people that condemn murders or discrimination against LGBTQ people (such as the source of this quote--a reaction to the hate crime murder of Matthew Shepard.) It's the "good" men who condemn the sexual violence that women face daily (#NotAllMen). It's the "good" Christians who condemn violence done in the name of Christianity. And it's the "good" white people who condemn white supremacist rallies and violence, attempting to distance themselves from them, saying #ThisIsNotUs.

But you know what? We are like this. We ARE like this. We are LIKE this.

I understand this reaction in a visceral way. In February 2015, when three Muslim students were murdered in Chapel Hill--in a community where I'd spent most of my life, I not only mourned their loss and felt anger at the occurrence--I was also offended and horrified, that indeed, this HAD happened in MY community, a place I'd thought was better than that. It was a stark reminder that, yes, it could happen here. It could happen anywhere. And it does happen everywhere.

Because we live in a patriarchal, sexist, racist, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic (etc., etc.) society and all of us "good" people benefit from our privileges every day.

We are like this. We ARE like this. We are LIKE this.

We live here. We participate in this society.

We have to own it. We have to reckon with it.

We must not look away.

When we try to ignore what is happening in front of us, we are actively ignoring and participating in the oppression in marginalized people. And I write this today in response to the "Unite the Right" white supremacist/neo-Nazi rally that occurred in Charlottesville this past weekend. No, as a white person, I absolutely do not want to be categorized in the same sentence as Neo-Nazis. But it is vital that I, and other "good" white people recognize that if Neo-Nazis got their way, we would be protected, simply by the color of our skin. That we ARE protected, daily, by the color of our skin.

You want to be an actual good person? Listen to people who are suffering from oppression. Do not discount their experiences and for the love of God, do not make it about your feelings. Take what they tell you and share with the other "good" people. Use the resources you have to actively dismantle the structures of oppression that exist. Recognize that you are sacrificing preferential treatment due to your privilege, but if we are going to a build a more just world, you have to do it. Also recognize that the people who are currently marginalized OWE YOU NO THANKS for making that sacrifice. Because it is your DUTY as a human being and a good person to do so.

We don't have to be like this. But we cannot pretend that we aren't right now. As they say, the first step of recovery is admitting you have a problem.

We are like this. We ARE like this. We are LIKE this.

But there is a different way.

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