Shit. This is a myth about being a white lady. This is a myth about the price of white woman privilege! Shit. Shit. Shit!!
I realized this last night as I was writing yesterday’s post. I wrote:
I mean it’s all so familiar. This myth asks the question, what do you do when a dude with strangely colored hair suddenly has all the stuff and has control of your fate, and even though in your day- to day life, not that much has changed, you keep hearing about the bad stuff he is doing, or may have done…
Doesn’t that feel like oh, the past 3,500 years or so?
According to the myth of Bluebeard, what you do at this point is, you spend time trying to play by the rules and enjoy the stuff and pretend you aren’t living with a constant threat.
And then I reread it and realized: Yes, that’s the past 3,500 years.
For white women, you asshole. We had the choice to pretend.
(Make that ‘you pustule’, see previous post about redirecting away from body parts as expletives.)
Anyway, I reread that and then I threw up in my mouth and I edited it out and basically pretended that I didn’t ever write it because it was 11:30 PM and I didn’t have the spoons (thank you, Jac Herrick for that reference) to deal with it.
Also, there’s a not very attractive part of me that was saying: A year of looking at how privilege silences me? This will make me the most boring dinner date ever.
That, right there, is the essence of the deal white women get offered:
Be pretty. Don’t say shit that pisses me off. And you can have some of the stuff.
It’s so deep in me that for most of my life I had no idea there was a fist around my throat.
But writer Ijeoma Oluo talked about this in her speech “I am Drowning in Whiteness.” In fact, I think I just stole that dinner date metaphor from her, because I was at the speech when she said it and it hit me like a ton of bricks.
"Do not wait until you are ready to sit down and address race to address race. Because I do not get to decide when to address race. I don't get to say, "I feel safe, I feel comfortable; I'm going to look at racism now," because racism hits me in the doctor's office. It hits me when I'm driving down the street. It hits me when I'm taking my kids to a movie.
"Get used to being uncomfortable. Be the person that nobody wants to invite to the dinner party."
(You can read the entirety of her amazing speech here. Actually, you should stop reading this right now and read her speech instead. Here. Just read it. But come back, because I really don’t want the last thing you read of this to be me showing my unattractive plagiaristic underbelly about being boring at dinner.)
Use the key you are not supposed to use.
Know what you aren’t supposed to know and then drip blood all over everyone’s nice outfits. (What? It’s the myth. I can’t help it.)
Be the boring dinner date.
In some ways, I am doing this already. I really am! I want to make a list for you now of all the ways I am. I am resisting making that list. It doesn’t matter. Really. I am so so so far from done. In which case, what else should I be working, but this?
So I am. I am going to work this myth and live and write my way through breaking the privilege pact. I’m sure that I will do it wrong and therefore I am going do it wrong out in the open. Not to make people do my emotional labor or to hurt anyone, but because one thing I have learned about my voice is that I have to use it. I have to write and not just write but post. I have to write and post and keep doing so or I become small and pretty and polite without even noticing it. I have to, even though I will do it wrong because the alternative to listening and learning as much as I can and still speaking is being frozen, being silent, is the fist around my throat.
So this is… (Jeez. Ug. Really? Yes. Deep breath.) this is my commitment to this work and this myth. I will do my best to live what I am learning about breaking the privilege pact and I will write and I will post something every day. Every day. Every day. Three times is a spell. Every day from now until Samhain – that’s Halloween for you non-witches. Even if no one ever reads it. Even if (when) I do something stupid and my clients and my colleagues and my family read it and they can all tell that I have absolutely no business being a consultant and coach and teacher, much less being at dinner. Still, I’m in this. Still I will speak.
So mote it be.