You Feel Bad, I Don’t Care.
Maybe your parents voted in our new White House tenant. Maybe you became my neighbor after Big Banks foreclosed the ‘hood and Whiteness and wealth privilege co-signed your lease. Maybe you just finished the 13th documentary. Maybe you realized you’ve become soft on war and deportations in the last eight years. Maybe you’re wearing a safety pin right now. Maybe you cried for your friends, their lovers, their families.
Maybe you feel bad.
You feel bad, and I don’t care.
I’m seeing a lot of good White people — and let me tell you they are good people because they told me so, they forcefully shoved their resumé of good deeds, tax records of donations, snap stories of them with their diverse friend groups into various conversations, while slapping away any pointed fingers — scramble around trying to assuage their guilt. The guilt, I’ve determined, has to do with their actual or assumed complacency during the cultivation of the neutral (uncaring), progressive (naive/a-historical), colorblind (Whitewashed)narrative. This positioning provided no match to the exponential growth an outwardly vicious, far right, White-nationalist movement that successfully produced a globally recognized grand leader.
They would like to set the record straight! This is not their fault! Or maybe it kinda is, but please be nicer about it!
They want me, and if you’ve heard a migraine-inducing defense of the Safety Pin campaign, possibly you, to comfort them. Problem being, I don’t care.
They have cried,
“ I have a long track record of volunteering, I have a real heart for the people.”
“Stop isolating allies, don’t push people away who are simply trying to help, who just really, really, really, really want to do good, and really, really, really, really, want you to validate them in particular… ”
which quickly, if not commended and accepted becomes,
“So what am I supposed to do?!” “I’m trying to help, maybe I’ll just pack up and leave” “Fuck this, I’m not fighting for you anymore…”
At its worse level of progression, Feeling Bad (which is a misnomer, it’s really Feeling Implicated) will make people start sounding as vitriolic and hateful as Sanders supporters during and immediately after Black Lives Matter organizers interrupted the Great White Hope’s rally in Seattle.
This where the article is supposed to shift tone, and I start offering alternatives to wearing safety pins, and start pointing our areas for improvement in the days to come. Not here. I don’t care.
You still feel bad, maybe now you also feel bitter, and I don’t care.
“..but I’m NOT like them! I’m different! #ImWithHer! #FeelTheBern! Beyoncé is my quéén I lovéd Lemonadé! Let’s lean in together!”
You are not entitled to the trust of folks whose livelihoods, security and happiness took a direct impact on Nov. 8th, and multiple other moments leading up to that. Let me repeat. You are by no means ever entitled, regardless of how many good things you do, regardless of how many good causes you’ve ran 5K for, regardless of how good you are, to the trust and good graces of minoritized and subjugated populations.
Let’s also pause here to note: People and, or, entire communities being suspicious of you despite your HRC bumper sticker or zeal for social justice is not as much reflective of their ignorance as it is a testament to the ways they’ve been harmed or sidelined by people that at least look like you. It’s a means of protection, and seeing how things like the safety pin of “solidarity” could be co-opted by white supremacists and alt-right trolls, maybe it’s for the better that their guards stay up.
Many people do not have the privilege of being trusted. Folks in the Transgender community are being barred from public restrooms, and are denied access to emergency shelters in the dead of winter. Muslim, Sikh, South Asian and MENA Americans are getting kicked off planes, threatened with violence or straight up murdered. Black, Brown and Native Americans are being shot and attacked by overzealous members of the fraternal order left and right. Asylum seeking refugees and undocumented immigrants are being detained and denied by the millions because rampant xenophobia makes their presence synonymous with terrorism, espionage sexual assault, nondescript ‘foreign ideals’, health epidemics, and the overtaking of the White hegemony.
Grace, levity, and trustworthiness are conditionally and rarely granted for too many of us, but it’s expected for you. You want it, maybe you feel bad for wanting it, maybe you outright demand it. “It’s my validation, and I need it now!”
I’m not going to exert the remaining energy I have pat you on the back, to create a special status for your in my subconscious, to always interrupt anyone who asks more of you. Your attempts to cover your ass and what’s increasingly looking like performative allyship makes my eyes roll.
You feel bad, and I don’t care.