I’m sorry for what you deal with every day

I’m trying to learn how to confront racism and inappropriate behavior when I see it, and it doesn’t come naturally to me.

All my life, I’ve been taught that the polite Southern girl or woman doesn’t argue, accommodates, keeps her opinions to herself. And I’m an introvert, a 9 on the Enneagram — I pretty much hate confrontation as much as I can hate it.

But I’m trying, for the sake of friends who are members of marginalized groups and for the sake of our country. I believe these things matter, and it’s past time that comfortable, cis-het, able-bodied white people start speaking up.

Today, as politely as I could manage, I commented on a post from another parent on Facebook where their child was dressed “like an Indian (Native American for those who want everyone to be PC).”

This is cultural appropriation. I asked the parent to please consider that. They responded saying that the child’s school had given them the option to dress either as a pilgrim or Indian for their Thanksgiving program, and the child chose Indian. The parent expressed that they had no problem with the child’s choice.

I responded that this mindset willfully ignored a racial issue, that I did not agree with the school’s choice to encourage children to dress like this, but that I didn’t come on Facebook to argue and would be happy to continue the conversation privately.

Well, apparently I shit in somebody’s sanctuary. Several somebodies, actually.

The other parent didn’t respond again, which is fine. The other responses were primarily that I needed to get over it, that “my grand[parent] was 25% Indian, and I’m fine with this” (paraphrased), that Thanksgiving should be a time for giving thanks instead of judging others, that dressing in a Native American costume was a way of honoring America’s history, and that several other parents have children who reenact the first Thanksgiving, so of course they need pilgrims and Indians!

I think some folks may be in dire need of a history lesson. White colonialism led to the death and destruction of many, many native people. Rape, slavery, clubbing kids to death and diseased blankets don’t fit into the happy narrative of everybody just getting along.

Anyway, I haven’t responded again on Facebook. I spoke out against the issue I saw, I offered to provide context, and I don’t really feel like I have anything to add to that discussion at this point.

But it made me pretty angry.

I deleted Facebook from my phone today, because I was mad, frustrated and hurt to see person after person pile on and tell me I needed to just get over it, that I was judgmental, that I was wrong, etc. I couldn’t get it out of my mind or let it go.

How dare I speak up against a beloved tradition. How dare I suggest that there might be something wrong with a cute little kid dressed up in fringed brown clothes. What kind of person am I? Can’t I see that there is nothing wrong with this?

I have the privilege to walk away. I don’t have a stake in the fight, other than my pride after having spoken up. I don’t live every day being told that I’m wrong, that I’m overreacting, that I need to stop being so judgmental.

To those of you who do face that every day, to my black friends who can either laugh along with racist jokes or get shut out, to my LGBTQ friends who are called over-sensitive when they object to jokes about trannies and dykes, to my friends with disabilities who are told they shouldn’t get so bent out of shape when their coworkers call something “retarded” or “lame:”

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that white people are like this. I’m sorry that cis-het people are like this. I’m sorry that able-bodied people are like this.

I will try to do better, and I will do my best to stand up for you or stand behind you or beside you or even in front of you when needed.