Not Good Enough – Thoughts on what I can do to combat facism and white supremacy in the United States – based on the Charlottesville march that occurred this past week

I’m outraged. I’m not surprised. And I’m scared.  But here’s the thing – I don’t know what to do, or what I can do.

With the exception of the occasional post on this blog, I don’t share news articles or anything to my other social media sites because I like them to be safe spaces for me. And yes I know it’s a privilege to ignore things that upset me and make me uncomfortable. But I also find that in some ways, simply sharing and doing nothing else is “slacktivism” and I know I’m preaching to the choir of my Facebook friends (I have carefully cultivated my friends list as such), I have only friends as followers on Twitter, and I guess I don’t know anything about my followers on Tumblr, but I still don’t have a large enough platform to make a difference there.

I would donate money if I had any I could spare – but I barely make enough to live on without support from my parents and I’m personally fighting a shopping addiction and hypomania-induced impulse control issues that leave me with less than I need, let alone any disposable income.

I would go to rallies – and I’ve gone to one or two – but the big ones in my city this week are all happening during the first couple of trainings for my new internship at the suicide prevention hotline – which I can’t miss.

So I have all these things and all that’s running through my mind is EXCUSES EXCUSES EXCUSES.

I’m queer and Jewish and have a mental illness. I am a woman. I am not the pinnacle of white European-ness or whatever these Nazis and white supremacists want me to be. But I am white. And for all intents and purposes, regardless of the intersection of my other identities, that gives me a great deal of privilege. But I don’t know how to use it.

And I can’t deny that I’m scared. Even as a bisexual female Jew, I haven’t been personally discriminated against in my own life, nor have I ever been in any danger. And I’m really afraid to put myself into danger. But I am sub-human to these fucks, even if my general whiteness allows me to “pass”

I saw a post this morning that said something like, “If you ever wondered what you would do during slavery, the Holocaust, or apartheid, STOP. Because you’re doing it right now.” And that made me wonder what I was doing.

In practice I am doing nothing. And that’s not what I want to do. I want to do something, but I want to do something meaningful. I don’t want to be a “slacktivist”.

What I’m doing now is Not Good Enough. It’s not good period because I’m essentially doing nothing except trying to start conversations with friends and family members who mostly agree with me already, but are also not doing anything.

So I’m looking for advice, here. What can I do?

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Doctor WHO? An Opinion on the Announcement of Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor

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Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor

Yesterday it was announced that the 13th Doctor in the popular British television show Doctor Who would be Jodie Whittaker. Up until now, the 12 ½ Doctors, including Steven Moffat’s controversial War Doctor regeneration (that’s the ½), have been arguably straight, cisgender, white men. I say arguably straight because all of actual romances, primarily from New Who, have been with women, though the New Who Doctors have occasionally flirted with men – that could easily have been joking or queer baiting. As for Classic Who, I don’t know much about it, but the First Doctor had a granddaughter (implying a son or daughter of some kind), and wasn’t involved in much romance as far as I know. So for all intents and purposes, he was likely assumed straight, though he may have been asexual as well, from what I’ve heard. But again – I don’t know much about Classic Who.

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“The Hate U Give” – More than a book review

f043712f-4655-4c8a-b60f-fca1e4c6ca9fLet me preface this whole thing by saying: I am white. I am Jewish, and that does mean something in terms of not being “white enough” – but I am white Jewish. I consider myself white. People who aren’t white supremacists consider me white, and I get all the privileges that come with being white and growing up in a white, suburban, middle-to-upper-middle class family. There certainly is anti-Semitism that affects my life, but it is not racism, and the difference does matter.

With all that said, I read a book yesterday called “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas. It’s the story of a young black girl named Starr Carter who lives with her family “in the hood” but goes to an elite “bougie” school. Her father is a former gangbanger who went to prison, but now is successful as a grocery store owner. Her mother works in a hospital. Starr is dating a white boy from school. She feels she has two separate personalities – the one at school and the one at home, but neither of them are really her, and both of them are really her. But one night, on her way back from a party, Starr’s friend Khalil is shot by a police officer right in front of her. Starr becomes a key witness in a case much like many we’ve seen in the U.S. all too recently: A white police officer shoots first and asks questions later. Now Starr is caught up in an absolute circus of events, where she has to recount the events of the night over and over to people who don’t believe her, or who believe because Khalil was a drug dealer, that he deserved to die. And SPOILER ALERT – at the end of the day, at the end of it all, the white police officer doesn’t get indicted. Even as we see the story from Starr’s point of view, and know what truly happened, the police officer gets away scot free with killing a young, unarmed black boy. And even though this book is fiction, it closely mirrors real world events. I can’t even name all of the “incidents” like this that have happened in the past year in the US. Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Philando Castile – those are some of the names you may have heard on the news, but it’s not all of them. Not by a longshot.

I think everyone should read this book. First of all, it’s a good book. But it’s a young adult novel, so it’s written as something that’s easy to digest. It’s not inflammatory like a news article might be, but if you truly understand it, you will get angry on behalf of Starr, on behalf of Khalil, and on behalf of all the real world black men and women, boys and girls, who have been mishandled, mistreated, and outright abused by the police. What happens in this book is what happens in life, and it’s something everyone should know, but doesn’t.

As a white person, I can say this and hopefully other white people will listen: All white people say and do racist things. All white people are, to a certain extent, racist. Because of the way our society is built, on the backs of slaves and at the deaths of Native Americans who had their land stolen to create what is today our country, it is impossible to not be racist if you don’t actively work to be anti-racist. It’s hard, and it’s exhausting, and you’re going to fuck up, over and over again. You’re going to put your foot in your mouth over and over again. But the point is to learn from it. And it’s the very least you can do. (I say you – but I also mean me. I also have to work to be anti-racist. And I’m still learning! I fuck up! But I keep going to work to live an anti-racist lifestyle to the best of my ability, and use the privileges I’ve gotten from being white, from being middle-to-upper-middle-class, from being able-bodied if not quite neurotypical, et cetera, to help make the world a better, more equitable and equal place.)

Angie Thomas has done us all a favor by writing an incredible book that can help us, as white people, have a very necessary conversation with our friends and family. Because even though the particular situation she writes is fictional, the story she tells is not. This book should be on summer reading lists. This book should be at the top of bestseller lists. And from there, white people should research. They should take what they learned from this fictional account and go read about the realities of police violence and abuse. It shouldn’t stop there. “The Hate U Give” is where the conversation should begin, not end.

And I’m here to help get the conversation going. Any of my non-white friends and followers, I may not have much influence, or a loud voice, but if you need a platform to speak from, I will do my best to give it to you and step aside. Because this country is racist. But I do have hope that one day it won’t be. But we have a lot, A LOT, of work to do first.

The Best Advice?

I like to say the best advice I ever received was from an airline instruction pamphlet. Well, technically, I got it from the book Deadline by Chris Crutcher, and he got it from an airline instruction pamphlet, but I digress.

The point being, the best advice I ever received was “Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others”

You need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. It was this advice that helps get me through my depression. It’s this advice that allows me to say, “I can be a little selfish, just this one time.” It’s this advice that makes it so I can’t hate or resent my ex, no matter how much he hurt me, because he was putting his own oxygen mask on first. He needed to take care of himself first, before he could take care of me. And that meant, well, that he couldn’t take care of me. I needed too much from him, and he had to get out. Him not being able to handle my depression isn’t a reflection on me, as it took me a long time to learn, but a reflection on him, and his need to take a step back.

But in today’s political climate, can we afford to put our own oxygen masks on first? It’s a privilege to be able to take a step back and say, “I need out of this.” It’s a privilege to be able to think like this. It reaches a point where you have to ask yourself, what is putting on your oxygen mask first, and what is denial or avoidance? You need to help yourself before you can help others, but the point of that is, after you take that moment to help yourself, you need to actually assist others. Put on your own oxygen mask. Then make sure you use your privilege to help others who don’t have it breathe.

 

Current Events Corner 9/2/2016

Colin Kaepernick takes a stand – by sitting down

Colin Kaepernick is a player for the San Francisco 49ers – an American Football Team. For the past couple games, Kaepernick has protested the treatment of black Americans by refusing to stand during the National anthem. This has sparked a national controversy, with people booing him and claiming he is disrespecting the country, while others are supporting him and his right to free speech.

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Current Events Corner 8/16/2016

Self-Expression through clothing

Last week in Cannes, France, the mayor banned burkinis, claiming they are a symbol of Islamic extremism. A burkini is a swimsuit that covers a woman head to toe, allowing her to swim while maintaining her modesty. France also banned the burka and the niqab in 2011. Earlier this week, a photo about a so-called culture clash at the Rio Olympics made the rounds (I cannot include the photo due to licensing) which showed a woman from Egypt wearing a hijab while playing volleyball against a woman from Germany wearing a bikini. Up until 2012, the Olympics required all women’s volleyball players to wear a bikini, which prevented many otherwise qualified women from competing, or forced them to wear something that would make them uncomfortable or go against their religious and cultural values. Since 2012, the Olympic committee has allowed women to wear shorts, t-shirts or long sleeved shirts, or full body coverings. That does not mean all countries allow the same freedom; however, as Germany, for example, still requires its women’s volleyball teams to wear bikinis.

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