Grieving the Week

Friends: In the next two weeks, I’ll be shutting down this small-labor-of-love “livingformations” as I migrate my writing to Medium. You’ll get at least one more essay besides the one I share below. But, PLEASE go to https://medium.com/@jenharvey99/followers and follow me at Medium. There you will receive all the articles I typically share here. Thank you so much! -Jen

 

Grieving the Week (posted originally on Facebook, Saturday, September 29, 2018

I’ve been struggling to figure out exactly the “why” of the grief and exhaustion I’ve been feeling the last three days (besides the obvious). Because, in some ways, for me, very little of this feels new; seeing violence against women up close isn’t new for me; being engaged in struggle about really hard injustices isn’t new for me; recognizing what “we’re” up against is certainly not new for me.
And what I’m finally realizing tonight is that this layer of grief and exhaustion has to do with me being a white woman. And this deep recognition is coming to me: my grief is about the role white women have played in all of this.
(Don’t mishear me. Don’t misquote me. I’m not suggesting that white women, like the BRAVE Dr. Ford, aren’t suffering mightily and always at the hands of white men. We are and do. And, like so many others, I’ve got very little for white men right now–even the “good” ones.)
But, the devastating truth is this. If we white women had ever chosen (even a strong portion of us) to get serious about our RACIAL work;
if we had worked to learn how and put in the effort to show real solidarity to WOMEN of COLOR in a serious and sustained way;
if we had taken women of color seriously in all the places and ways they have been calling this and naming this and organizing and crying out (increasingly in frustration and rage) for white women to show up;
if . . . .
Friends, here’s the devastating truth: we would not be in this situation. That’s truth-talk. (As, Dr. Brittney Cooper described it on Twitter this week: the  fact that even white women tears can’t get the white men in power to pause has “apocalyptic” implications for all of us.)
Don’t mishear me. Don’t misquote me. I’m not blaming women for the violence of white men. I’m not failing to take seriously and with horror the experiences of white female sexual assault survivors. I’m not downplaying the incredible courage of Dr. Ford (I am in awe of her). I am not blaming white women for patriarchal oppression and the abuses of power by white men, combined with the silence of the nicer white guys.
But I most certainly AM talking about the long game. I am talking about the “what might have been.”
If white feminists had worked harder to take women of color seriously and really work for solidarity with communities of color all these years. For the 47% of us who didn’t vote for this demonic regime, if we had called in and challenged and PRIORITIZED engagement with other white women in our lives on issues of anti-racism and feminism.
If . . .
Do you know what a FORCE we would have been? Do you know WHAT a majority of the power we could yield?
Don’t mishear me. Don’t misquote me. I must and will keep working for and praying for and putting in time and commitment to and struggling towards enabling the creation of such a force. I will. Because there’s no other option. And women of color deserve that (and SO f-ing much more.)
But shit. I’m realizing tonight that THAT’S what my deep grief and exhaustion is about this week. I definitely felt grief after the election of this demonic regime. I was pissed at my fellow white women then. I couldn’t always find the words to quite explain why (besides the obvious demographics of the vote).
And it’s also really hard to speak such words when people are really suffering. And people were suffering then. And people are suffering now. But, we’re going to not have a future if we don’t tell the truth.
I’m not blaming white women for white male violence and oppression; that’s different. But, I am YES pissed that over and over again white women have not decided to LISTEN and respond to women of color and have decided to NOT listen and respond in a serious way. That would have been world-changing.
So now, as the severity of the consequences of what 53% of white women did in November 2016, and another 47% of us didn’t work harder to stop (which we could have if we had long ago made antiracist solidarity with communities of color–who have been calling this a racial demon since day one–THE PRIORITY of our lives); as the consequences really settles in for white women (they long ago settled in for Black and brown people . . . women, men and children).
And as I watch white women rise up now–when we should have long since been rising up in solidarity with women of color. Well…this grief is something deeper.
Not quitting. I’m here for the long haul.
But my white women people . . . our chances to get this correct are becoming fewer and farther between.
So, if you’re still reading this at this point. And you don’t know what I’m even talking about, or you haven’t yet made antiracist work a serious priority of your life (time, energy, resources) I’m telling you–this if the f-ing moment.
There are a bunch of us around who have some ideas about what this looks like. And there are a multitude of organizations getting this right (because they know we could be the easy majority when it comes to real power). These organizations are ALWAYS needing more bodies to show up and commit time, energy, resources (and lots of them also make sure you can bring your kids along when you come).
This is not a generic “woman” moment.
This moment is a cataclysmic moment of decision about where white women are going to decide to throw their lot.
I’m already in; and for the long haul. I hope you’ll come. Our future literally depends on it.

 

 

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