I am excited and happy you have found a place of peace. It sounds wonderful. I went to Denmark as a teen with my father and my mind was permanently marked by its beauty. Your experience there sounds serene. I’m happy you were able to escape the weight of oppression you felt before moving there.
Because if they did, like you, they would.
While I don’t believe this was your intention, we must be careful not place the burden of escaping oppression on the oppressed.
As strong and wonderful as the African American women I know are, they are not capable of transforming society on their own. And it should not be their responsibility to do so.
Rather, it is ours. It is up to us (people like me who do not struggle under the same societal oppression) to hear their cries, acknowledge their struggles, find moments of oppression in our own circles of influence, and actively bring them to an end.
(I’m going to step away from your response now and comment on my natural response to pieces like the one Charlene Haparimwi shared.)
When I read stories of harassment and oppression on Medium, my natural first response is, “I feel so bad for her.” While empathy is good, if I stop there, I have accomplished nothing accept making myself feel better. The cultural problem has not actually been addressed. The injustice has not been righted. Solutions have not been found. Sadly, that feeling of empathy is often all I need to make myself feel like I’ve made a difference.
To make a tangible difference in the world, I must actively seek ways in which I can combat the oppression. After reading Charlene’s piece, I took time to reflect on the state of my neighborhood. I will be (and have been) talking to my sons over about how we can make sure the women of our neighborhood (especially the women of color) feel protected and safe.
When I allow empathy’s mere existence to pacify my frustration, it is a letter of permission gives injustice space to thrive.
When I use empathy as a starting place for action, it becomes a gateway that can lead to a new and better world.