It’s the new year and that’s as good a time as any for self examination and growth.
I am writing now and I am more politically active. It’s the right thing to do, and the new found creativity I’ve experienced is really empowering. It is a struggle, however, in that I can no longer stay silent, so I have to be okay with setting my perfectionism aside. That perfectionism has been strong enough in the past to keep me silent frequently in difficult discussions and strong enough to keep me from writing, creating, sharing, or just striving in general. It keeps me from knowing that I’m a capable, smart and valuable voice. I’ll say more about perfectionism in a future post.
The day after the election, I posted a strongly worded Facebook post. This was the beginning of my “What will I do? I must do something!” struggle. My post went something like, “Time for allies to show up big time today…” for people of color, LGBTQ folks, Muslims, etc. First I left out people with disabilities, whoops. Strike one. Then the end of my post called to white men to step up and be allies because their peers elected this guy.
Then it happened. Statistics were published within a couple hours. I read them. The majority of white women voted for this guy. What?! Well FUCK. I say fuck by the way, you’re getting to know me better if you didn’t before. This was the white feminist in me who was unaware that this was likely and was shocked. This was the me who lives in a PNW bubble, the liberal elite soy latte sipping me I suppose. At that point after seeing the statistics I commented in my post with the link to the statistics and responded to a comment or two that yes I see now that white women, the majority, voted for DT, it’s true, holy crap. I didn’t edit or delete my initial post. I don’t feel right editing something significantly when people have already commented on and of course I’m not going to delete it. But I still felt like I should have pointed out more strongly or obviously that I messed up thinking I had all the information and that white women weren’t also responsible.
That is me, I did that, I thought that way, I messed up, and this is not the last time I am going to mess up. It will happen again now that I’m writing and taking political action and looking at ways to lead in the future. I have to be at least moderately okay with messing up sometimes, because it’s not an option to be quiet anymore. I have to know that I’ll mess up and then learn and do better.
I have to know that I’ll mess up and then learn and do better.
This is a struggle not only because of perfectionism on my part but because recognizing our own privileges and our own part in oppression of people is hard ongoing work. Before college I had virtually no idea what privilege was, although I knew somewhat of the struggles of oppressed people (I was raised by progressive parents). I learned in college and through my work and then being pushed even more in graduate school about privilege, and now I am still learning even more and still amazed by how much growth I am still working toward. It isn’t comfortable! It shouldn’t be! I am grateful for it though.
Acknowledging that people who look like me voted mostly for DT and that I messed up and will mess up again and that I am still learning always, I remind myself that I’m growing. I am creating and re-creating myself always. I march on.
Speaking of marching, if you’re not following the Women’s March on Portland‘s Facebook page (it’s a closed group) and you’re interested in marching or interested in the cause, you should follow it. Note that the first link is the event page and the second link is the closed group centered around the event. The march transitioned to new leadership two days ago and was transformed in a very necessary way. The online discussions are revealing and have been a learning and growing process for more than just me I’m sure. It’s a struggle, it’s messy, it’s uncomfortable, don’t get me wrong, but taking the time to read some of it could be well worth it for someone who wants to grow in their understanding of privilege and the struggles this movement faces. There are many people happy about the changes and feeling included now when they weren’t before, but there are (white) people who are not happy about it and are defensive and just not getting it. I am thankful for the new leadership and the fact that more voices are now included and that women of color, immigrants’ voices and more are being centered. This is the way forward and it’s called intersectional feminism. Here’s an article that explains what intersectional feminism means and why we need it.
Time for a deep breath. What a time we live in. There exists so much ugliness and fear but so much inspiring action and growth and energy. It gives me hope, and hope is something that is much needed in any New Years post. Thanks for reading, hang on for 2017. Kate