I try. I try really hard to listen and believe and recognize my own privilege and not take liberties. I try not to tone police. I try not to practice colonialism.
But you know, sometimes it’s really, really hard. Sometimes when I see WoC ranting about “White Feminism” and “White Feminists” on my Twitter stream, it upsets me. Because it gives me the feeling that every white woman is being tarred with the same brush. Now, maybe some PoC would say that’s just Karma, and maybe it is. It seems pretty unfair to me, though, that the people at whom this legitimate anger is directed are so rarely the ones to take it to heart, or even pay it any attention. One time, a Feminist of Colour tweeted, “It doesn’t need to be said, but there’s a difference between White Feminism(TM) and plain White Feminism.” I thanked her for pointing that out. I think it does need to be said, and said more often.
I don’t like the attitude of “We’re screwder than you” that I see so much. It reminds me of junior high. I don’t like being ignored when I ask honest questions trying to get information. Sure, of course, the voices of PoC have been routinely ignored. And one justification I hear is, “It’s not our job to educate you because the information is out there and if you really cared you’d find it.” It’s a justification Feminists use too, and I have to say I don’t agree with it there, either. It’s one thing to respond that way to a troll, and another to hand it out to all and sundry. I do really want to hear individual people’s voices. I don’t want to rely on questionable internet sources for answers to important questions like, “How, in your personal opinion, can we find common ground? Is there even any common ground?” Because those answers can’t be found through a search engine.
Sometimes I want to scream. I want to say, “The word ‘shaman” derives from Tungusic and was originally used by Russians interacting with the Indigenous Peoples of Siberia. Native America people don’t have a monopoly on it, or on Spirit Journeys, or on Totem Animals.” My ancestors were also driven out of their homes and off their lands, and starved, and raped. Their languages were taken from them. Their children were forced into conquerors’ schools. Maybe not in recent history and maybe it’s not still going on. But maybe it is, and it’s wrong to dismiss all that history because my people were (mostly) white.
I have no intent to dismiss the anger of People of Colour. I am aware that I am unlikely to be arrested because a cop thought I was a prostitute when I kissed my husband in public. I am aware that my words are more likely to be listened to. I am aware that (mental health issues and poverty aside) I have more opportunities than Indigenous People and People of Colour. But it gets really hard for me to listen and remain silent when it seems no matter what I do or what I say someone is going to attack me.
I just needed to say these things and it was too long to post anywhere else.