I, like many other women of color, are tired. Tired of playing nice to women that think our vulvas unite us in a struggle. I’m tired of the Sheilas, Pams, Teris and Beckys of the world. The ones that go to yoga everyday never seeing their role in whitewashing a spiritual Hindu practice to make themselves look better (literally and figuratively). The ones that will adopt black and brown babies, only to parade them around as trophies of their bleeding hearts, never raising their children with any knowledge of their own heritage, thinking raising them white will fix all their problems. The ones that think they are taking a stand on immigration by hiring a Haitian nanny, a El Salvadorian housekeeper and Mexican landscaper. The ones with college degrees, a minute amount of notoriety, a title at their job and subscription to the New York Times, that feel compelled to speak on things they shouldn’t… like what a black woman should say. The women that walk around wearing their pink pussy hats, at the one rally they go to a year. The women that were shocked 45 got elected even though most of their friends and all their husbands voted for him. The women that can put their anger on the shelf and grab it whenever their privilege gets checked. The women that think protesting is fun, as long as it comes with a photo-op and is done in time to make it to brunch. I’m tired. Tired of the women that will talk about gay rights but only care about the L and the G because they just love their hairdresser, and forget that the TBQIA+ even exists. Tired of women that say they aren’t racists but just replaced nigger with the word thug and refer to all things below their level of standard “ghetto”. The countless women in charge of nonprofits, that never recognize how often they leave black women out of the conversation and only speak of us, when we do something they don’t agree with. The ones that start a forum for women’s issues and tell the women of color that anything that deals with race, is outside their scope, because their unity is conditional. The ones that would rather take the time to rebrand, then use their time to shift the focus of their organization to centralize the marginalized. Tired of the women that will throw a rally and have to be reminded to ask non-white people to speak at it.
This city has a problem. Hell this country has a problem. It’s engrained in it’s history and has far reaching implications. This problem has become even more evident as the days of half assed allyship and the Oppression Olympics grows stronger. The problem has many names white privilege, white liberalism, white supremacy, whitewashing, gentrification, American imperialism, implicit bias, institutionalized racism or just plain old racism. It was used to justify the genocide of the First Nation’s people and the occupation of their land. It was used to ensure free labor and the economic bases “our” great country was built on. It is used to justify wars for oil, wars to keep our jails full, wars to colonize distant lands. It is used to silence the marginalized. It is used to justify the greater good. It’s Confederate Flags. It’s grocery stores becoming breweries. It is cops getting fired for slapping a man over money and paid leave for murdering a black child. It’s a University making a public apology to appease their shareholders, but when that apology blatantly offends their most marginalized students they sweep it under the rug. It’s touting religious freedom but fighting against a mosque being built in your neighborhood. It’s moving out of the city to start your own community. It’s public schools shutting down because you’d rather send your kid to private schools. It’s only being around people of color when they provide you services. It’s calling your black friend anytime you need to understand black culture. It’s having to special order a doll so your child can have something to play with that looks like them. It’s having to get conditioner in the ethnic hair section, even it’s produce by a major company. It’s being told you can’t be angry when talking about it . It’s being told you have to pay out of state tuition even though you’ve lived here most of your life because you were born in another country. It’s being asked how many fathers your kids have before you’re asked if you’re married. It’s not being able to go a single day without being reminded your not white. It’s quoting a slave master and forgetting that the Declaration of Independence was written to free white men from England. It’s accidentally, or not, using a term for lynching in your title. It’s asking a woman of color how to become more involved in the movement but when she tells you to pay women of color, you are appalled. It’s ignoring all marginalized people and only listening to white people when they say there’s a problem. It’s the Rolling Stones. It’s white Jesus. It’s the Redskins.
This is the reality of America. This is the reality of our city. It’s what’s happened after the Women’s March in Indianapolis this weekend. A march organized by women that were called out last year for having no representation outside of whiteness, and wealthy whiteness at that. I will admit that they tried to cover their asses at this year’s event, by inviting various women of color to speak, but it was obvious that it was just to avoid the same conversation of misrepresentation. This glaring reality put many organizers and activists in a too common position. Say no to protect yourself from being in a position of being tokenized. Say yes to utilize the platform and speak the truth. What better way to get white women activated, then to speak at the only rally they ever will attend? What better place to speak of being silenced, overlooked and left out of the conversation time and time again? Some decided to not speak, others decided to use the platform.
What happened? The black women of Indy10, Kyra and Leah, showed up and did what black lives matter activists should do, speak about black lives and against white supremacy. They spoke of all the things we are tired of. They told the truth without catering to women that in the past (and currently) tell them to not be so angry. They said all the things we wish we could but are too scared to because of the backlash. The backlash that looks like a university professor writing another accidentally racist article. The backlash looks like black women being told it’s not the time or place to talk about race. Another chance for white liberals to take their anger off the shelf because someone was truthful about the danger of privilege. Another lost moment to show what true inclusion could look like.
My dear friend, Malkah Bird also spoke at the march this weekend. A Jewish woman, that is an actual ally and proof “not all white people”, spoke about dismantling white supremacy and said the names of several organizations working for liberation because she knew it would probably be the only way they would get noticed. She was able to use her privilege, as a white presenting woman, to honor those that have been ignored and silenced. She spoke of black, brown, queer, refugee, undocumented, Native, Palestinian, Muslim and other marginalized groups and especially women, to foster true inclusion. She stood before that cheering crowd and said,
“For it falls to all of us — white people especially — it is our duty to follow these leaders- particularly women of color, to remain accountable to the most marginalized among us; to actively work to dismantle white supremacy in our streets and schools; our police departments and statehouses, our synagogues and our churches, and in our homes and our hearts.”
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel like my entire being is under attack. Black and brown bodies are being murdered by the police… silence. Families are getting ripped apart… silence. Trans women are mutilated… silence. I watch as my Palestinian friends are being attacked… silence. Aaron Bailey is murdered… silence. I watch as my undocumented friends get arrested to fight for their right to be here… silence. Two strong and unapologetically black women speak the truth about how deafening that silence is and outrage. How many times do we have to talk about how intentions aren’t enough? How long are we supposed to wait? How can you be civil with people that constantly say you don’t matter? It would be great if the Shiela, Pam, Teris and Becky of the world would use the moments they get mad to check themselves instead of going after those speaking honestly. It would be great if everyone would take a minute and just listen. Instead of feeling attached because you’re white, take that time to see what part are you playing is silencing a community. If someone is telling you they are on fire, you wouldn’t tell them to be quiet… unless you’re the one holding the match.