In only the last few days (let’s not even begin to count the months) I’ve heard more than just a few white folk telling me that “things are getting better.” I’ve had white men telling me that within the last ten years people are changing their ways of thinking, becoming more open-minded. I’ve had white women telling me that there is a “consciousness revolution” happening and that we “forward thinkers” are on the cusp of it. (Ha!) At times I bite my tongue and refrain from sharing my true reaction because let’s be honest, it’s not always worth it, is it? Sometimes you just want to chill, have a drink, and be entertained by the delusional shit white people be saying. Other times I half-heartedly state that I disagree, that only the frameworks of our “ways of thinking” have changed, but not the actual content. I’m also not too invested in that conversation either though, because again, who is trying to spend any of their time trying to educate folk? Not I said the tired black girl. Definitely not fucking I.
This viewpoint is seriously so privileged and ethnocentric that it makes me laugh at the irony of it – I generally hear this from privileged white folk: privileged by virtue of their race, and people who I do not consider to be lower-class or otherwise “struggling” from other such oppressions – of course I can only assess from what I see. I don’t really encounter many low-income white people in my life, and I would be interested in what they would have to say about this. I only hear this from folk who consider themselves to be “open-minded” and accepting. How ethnocentric must you be to think that just because you and a few of your circle of friends agree on the same tired-ass political viewpoints (“what we need is universal healthcare, yuh!”) that “things are changing,” that people are really becoming more conscious?
These are the same people who in the same breath will tell me about a friend of theirs who is conscious because they are visiting [insert country filled with brown people here]. It is astonishing really, the things that white people say, the things they allow themselves to think because it is more comfortable than examining their own privilege and their true selves in the mirror. No, it is not fair for me to make the assessment I just did, but I’ll tell you, as a woman of color who is working very hard to always be okay with what looks back at me when I gaze into the looking glass, to really truly attempt to do the hard and often painful work of finding my truth in this world, I find it completely dishonest when white people want to act like everything is “getting better” simply because less people express openly homophobic statements and more people support Hilary than we may have expected. (I kid you not, one of these white boys almost tried to use the “Obama is president” logic on me yesterday before I shut that shit down real. quick.)
Well guess what y’all? Things have not really changed so much for a lot of us here on this earth, like, at all. Must I remind you of the continuing objectification of women’s bodies, from the inception of body-image insecurities in women in first-world countries to the horrendous amount of human sex trafficking in others? (It is especially bad here in Japan with our hostess clubs.) Must I remind you of the Prison Industrial Complex, which is truly an example of a changing framework and remaining ideology? Must I remind you of all the people who are suffering unnecessarily because of the poisonous effects of capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy, and any other fucking form of oppression ever???
It is easy to be optimistic when you are privileged; it is easy to be optimistic when you and your privileged friends throw around liberal-sounding dogma with each other and never have to feel hurt by the gut-wrenching, morally frustrating pain that accompanies so much of the bullshit in the world. Don’t tell me that things are changing unless your heart has clenched in sorrow and grief, unless you have cried tears of vindication because you actually feel shifting winds and difference in the tides of time. Don’t tell me that. I am still hurting. I am broken-hearted every single day because of all the suffering we as humankind must endure on account of one another. I am learning to live fully, to bask in the sunlit rays of love, to endure with my spirit intact and my soul deeper, deeper, always made up of my pain and fear and happiness and love all at the same time.
Don’t tell me that things are changing and deny the collective pain of the human spirit. Show me that they are by opening your own heart, having the courage to risk sorrow to have true empathy, by transforming your spirit into a spirit of the people, so that we may stand together: heart intact, spirit intact, and stronger nonetheless because we can see things as they truly are.