Checking My Own Privilege: The Answer to “Where Have You Been?”

I spend a lot of my time challenging white people in my life (and sometimes just those I pass on the street) to check their privilege and take a look at the world using a different, more empathetic lens.    I am actually beginning to realize that, the more I do this, the more I will do this.  I hope that makes sense.  I simply mean that with each time I put myself out there and stand up to injustice, I see twice as many opportunities to do it AGAIN than I did before.  It has been an incredible, eye-opening, and deeply challenging journey.  I have been doing this my whole life, but only in Trump’s America have I begun to understand the true complexity that is the tapestry of hatred adorning every wall in this country.  And yes, I mean EVERY wall.

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Want to buy this? Me too.

Sometimes, though, I lose sight of my own role in all of this outside of  Social Justice Warrior Princess.  It’s not that  I don’t recognize my own privilege, it’s not that I don’t know how to use it, it’s just that I don’t always notice it immediately when it shows up.  That’s an area of failing for me and a space where I really need to grow.

What has catalyzed this immense and, frankly, kind of refreshing moment ion introspection was the choice I made over the last 3 weeks to kind of pull back from the blog a little bit.  I was blogging daily for a while.  I was wading through the dark corners of the internet in search of white supremacists with whom to engage and browsing scores of news articles for the latest ways in which racism and Trump’s America has reared its ugly, fused excuse for a head.  And then, one day about 3 weeks ago, I messaged a good friend (who has made an appearance here a few times) and told him I was tired.  I told him I felt overwhelmed and stressed and broken.  I told him I didn’t understand how to balance this blog and my finals with any semblance of success.  And he told me to take a break.  So I did.  

But here’s the thing: once I took that break, it became harder and harder for me to come back to this.  I kind of liked not having to face it.  I kind of liked taking a breather and avoiding the truth regarding the dire and terrifying state of this country.  I kind of liked just pretending, for a minute, like things were OK.  And that makes me kind of upset at myself.  

The only reason that I was able to take this break is my privilege.  The only reason I was able to take some space from staring oppression and hatred and racism in the face is because of my privilege.  The only reason I was able to, even for a second, get comfortable in today’s America (or any America of any era ever) is because of my privilege.  And for me to lose sight of that?  Not OK.privilege_becomingaware-388x600.jpg

So, while it doesn’t have to be a hurricane of rage (which is my general MO), I cannot look away.  I cannot look away because the reality of this world is that there are people who have to face this on a daily basis with zero breaks.  They have to face this in a very real, visceral, and often violent way.  They have to face this as their children, brothers, mothers, sisters, fathers, cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends are murdered.  They have to face this trauma, along with the trauma endured by their parents and grandparents+, regardless of whether they have finals or a deadline to meet.  And so if I am to be an ally, I cannot take advantage of luxuries that are not afforded to people who don’t have the privilege of whiteness or passing whiteness.  I cannot look away when things get to be too much.  

And with that, I will say this: I will keep fighting.  I might not write daily, but I will always be fighting.  I will not look away and I will not get comfortable.  Because none of this is OK.  None of this is normal.  And we can’t LET it be.  Resist with persistence.  Do. Not. Stop. 

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