Hey, White Liberals*:
I needed to break protocol to reach out to you and let you know that you’re killing me. No, worse. Much worse. You’re robbing me of part of my humanity.
In lots of ways, really, and frequently, but right now let’s just talk about this one way:
Your constant prioritization of the lives of white people over the lives of people of color is taking a serious toll on my psyche and those of many in my community. And by that I don’t mean what you might expect. Most of us already know that racism and its BFF white privilege have detrimental effects on people of color. Racial oppression leads to any number of unhealthy conditions, including high blood pressure, depression, heart disease, diabetes and even asthma. But what I’m talking about is something different. Something I’m going to call DSWP: desensitization to the suffering of white people.
A few days ago, I was having lunch with a good friend who is Korean-American, and she told me that when she heard about the bombings at the Boston Marathon—the marathon itself being something she knew nothing about and immediately associated with white people—she found that she had a hard time…well, caring. I’m sure that sounds shocking to many people. But it didn’t shock me. Because I was having the same feelings myself.
I really noticed it a few months back, during coverage of the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings. As news outlet after news outlet flashed photograph after photograph of mostly white children across TV screens and computer screens alike, I felt something I hadn’t remembered ever feeling before upon hearing of the brutal murder of children: I felt numb. Not numb in the way that people in shock feel numb. Not numb because of the great weight of what had happened. This was a different kind of numbness.
I couldn’t help but think about Trayvon Martin. He wasn’t an elementary school kid when he was shot and killed by a racist with a gun, but he was just a 17-year-old boy, unarmed, walking down the street with a bag of Skittles. I thought of countless other Black youth who have been murdered by crazed gunmen, usually with badges and police uniforms, in the last few years. I also thought about the hundreds of brown children in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan who have been killed by US forces on the ground and by drone strikes. I thought about how many times I didn’t see any of their faces, smiling and innocent, splashed across the TV or the internet for days and weeks on end. I thought about how white people I know weren’t posting links to stories about those children and what had happened to them. That they weren’t writing Facebook statuses about how unbearable those kids’ deaths were. And, seeing pictures of those little blonde children—because the blonde ones are always featured most prominently—I felt numb.
And it wasn’t just me. The same was true for many of my majority-POC friends and many people in my community. Many of us seemed unable to feel what a person should be able to feel when another person, especially a child, has their life taken away. After all, we had always been able to feel it before. I thought about the numbness of my friends and about my own lack of connection, and I wondered what was happening to us. I didn’t wonder for long, though, because the answer is really simple: you are happening to us, white liberals.
It shouldn’t have to be this way. While many white people may not be capable of connecting emotionally to the humanity of people of color, we POC have always been capable of connecting to yours. Because all our lives we are told white people’s stories—through news, television, movies, etc.—our ability to see white people as people has been pretty solid. (This is also probably due to the fact that we have never needed an excuse to kidnap, enslave, or mass murder you, which is always easier to do to a race of people when you can deny their humanity). But even in the face of all the evil that white people have perpetrated against us, most of us, in the face of some individual white person or small group of white people in pain or suffering, have still been able to feel compassion. Sympathy. Empathy. But lately…it’s getting more and more difficult to feel those things (for examples, see hereand here).
Some of it has to do with the fact that the wars and subsequent occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have gone on for more than a dozen years. For many of the younger folks I know, that’s the better part of their entire lives. It’s a whole third of mine. For a dozen years we have watched as the mainstream media has ignored the deaths of so many brown children, day after year after decade. I mean, they were ignoring the deaths of Black children all over the world, including here, way before that, but we didn’t have to see them ignoring it so blatantly every morning and afternoon and evening and night on TV (that 24-hour news cycle is a bitch; they have time for everything except our stories). Also, before the internet, and specifically before bloggers, the killing of black children by police officers had much less chance of even being known about outside of the community in which it happened. So, you know, you could at least feign ignorance. But now we know how often these things are happening. And we know how often white people don’t have a damn thing to say about it.
This is also true when it comes to the disappearances of black and brown women and children, which are all but ignored in the mainstream media. When our children go missing, there’s barely a teardrop in the news cycle. When white children go missing, it’s a national event.
Why don’t our children get to be children? Why don’t they ever get to be innocent?
What all this has resulted in is the displacement of compassion and empathy with anger and resentment. Because when the names of slain white children are spoken, I can barely hear them anymore. My ears are plugged with the unuttered names of the Black and brown children whose lives didn’t mean enough to be spoken aloud on CNN. When I see photos of their smiling white faces, I can only imagine the smiles of fallen Black and brown children whose faces never grace the news.
I feel as if something important, something essential to my humanity, is being drained away every time you ignore the suffering and death of people who look like me and my family and my friends and my community, while devoting endless hours of attention to the suffering of people who look like you. Each time, I feel little less…well, I feel a little less.
And I’m not happy about it. I don’t feel good about it. I don’t want to be someone who can’t empathize with people who don’t look like me. I don’t want to be like you.
The only way to stop this is for you to stop ignoring our lives and our deaths and our stories. For you to put the names and faces of those Black and brown children in your news and on your Facebook pages. It is not enough for you to say, when confronted, that you care. You need to act like it. Because a part of our humanity—our empathy—is eroding. And that’s not a good thing for any of us.
*I’m speaking to white liberals because I don’t expect anything from conservatives.
Mia McKenzie is the author of The Summer We Got Free.
All work published on BGD is the intellectual property of its writers. Please do not republish anything from this site without express written permission from BGD. Yes, linking to this post on Facebook and Twitter or elsewhere is okay.Mia McKenzie is an award-winning writer and the creator of Black Girl Dangerous. She’s a smart, scrappy Philadelphian with a deep love of fake fur collars and people of color. She’s a black feminist and a freaking queer. She studied writing at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the winner of the Astraea Foundation’s Writers Fund Award (‘09) and the Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award (‘12). You can find her short stories in The Kenyon Review andmake/shift. Her debut novel, The Summer We Got Free, is a finalist for the 2013 Lambda Literary Award and has been described by author and critic Jewelle Gomez as “a brilliant tapestry filled with exuberance and anxiety.” Her recent live performances include Queer Rebels of the Harlem Renaissance, Mangos With Chili Presents: WHIPPED! QTPOC Recipes For Love, Sex & Disaster, and Black Girl Dangerous: Mia McKenzie on Being A Queer Black Femme Nerd In A Ridiculous World, the last of those being a signature reading of her diverse works, performed at universities across the country. Her work has been quoted onThe Melissa Harris Perry Show and recommended by The Root, Colorlines, Feministing, Angry Asian Man, and Crunk Feminist Collective, among others. She lives in Oakland.
And if you don’t believe me, you’ve never been a married woman who kept her family name. I have had students hold that up as proof of my “sexism.”
My own brother told me that he could never marry a woman who kept her name because “everyone would know who ruled that relationship.” Perfect equality – my husband keeps his name and I keep mine – is held as a statement of superiority on my part."
I might have reblogged this already but it’s so good I don’t care.
Kyriarchy in action.
Also the study where they had women and men talking in a discussion and when women spoke around 30% of the time, men perceived them as dominating the discussion. They didn’t consider it “equal” until something like 5-10% of women talking.
Voila. A beautiful example of why fighting for equality becomes a gross exaggeration in the eyes of the oppressors.
I’m planning my wedding and basically being told that if I don’t take my fiance’s last name, people will judge me… . I don’t know what to do. I’m feeling the pressure from all sides, including from my fiance. I don’t want to make my name longer and I don’t want to be Dr. _____ someday when I had always dreamed of having my family name. And my name just sounds better. -____-
Natasha Walter, Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism, pages 69-70, 2010. (via bitemebeautiful)
Bringing this back as people have started reblogging this again and EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW THIS.
Let me tell you some things.
I used to investigate child abuse and neglect. I can tell you how to stop the vast majority of abortion in the world.
First, make knowledge and access to contraception widely available. Start teaching kids before they hit puberty. Teach them about domestic violence and coercion, and teach them not to coerce and rape. Create a strong, loving community where women and girls feel safe and supported in times of need. Because guess what? They aren’t. You know what happens to babies born under such circumstances? They get hurt, unnecessarily. They get sick, unnecessarily. They get removed from parents who love them but who are unprepared for the burden of a child. Resources? Honey, we try. There aren’t enough resources anywhere. There are waiting lists, and promises, and maybes. If the government itself can’t hook people up, what makes you think an impoverished single mom can handle it?
Abolish poverty. Do you have any idea how much childcare costs? Daycare can cost as much or more than monthly rent. They may be inadequately staffed. Getting a private nanny is a nice idea, but they don’t come cheap either. Relatives? Do they own a car? Does the bus run at the right times? Do they have jobs of their own they need to work just to keep the lights on? Are they going to stick around until you get off you convenience store shift at 4 AM? Do they have criminal histories that will make them unsuitable as caregivers when CPS pokes around? You gonna pay for that? Who’s going to pay for that?
End rape. I know your type errs on the side of blaming the woman, but I’ve seen little girls who’ve barely gotten their periods pregnant because somebody thought raping preteens was an awesome idea. You want to put a child through that? Or someone with a mental or physical inability for whom pregnancy would be frightening, painful or even life-threatening? I’ve seen nonverbal kids who had their feet sliced up by caregivers for no fucking reason at all, you think sexual abuse doesn’t happen either?
You say there’s lots of couples who want to adopt. Kiddo, what they want to adopt are healthy white babies, preferably untainted by the wombs and genetics of women with alcohol or drug dependencies. I’ve seen the kids they don’t want, who almost no one wants. You people focus only on the happy pink babies, the gigglers, the ones who grow and grow with no trouble. Those are not the kids who linger in foster care. Those are certainly not the older kids and teenagers who age out of foster care and then are thrown out in the streets, usually with an array of medical and mental health issues. Are they too old to count?
And yeah, I’ve seen the babies, little hand-sized things barely clinging to life. There’s no glory, no wonder there. There is no wonder in a pregnant woman with five dollars to her name, so deep in depression you wonder if she’ll be alive in a week. Therapy costs money. Medicine costs money. Food, clothes, electricity cost money. Government assistance is a pittance; poverty drives women and girls into situations where they are forced to rely on people who abuse them to survive. (I’ve been up in more hospitals than I can count.)
In each and every dark pit of desperation, I have never seen a pro-lifer. I ain’t never seen them babysitting, scrubbing floors, bringing over goods, handing mom $50 bucks a month or driving her to the pediatrician. I ain’t never seen them sitting up for hours with an autistic child who screams and rages so his mother can get some sleep while she rests up from working 14-hour days. I don’t see them fixing leaks in rundown houses or playing with a kid while the police prepare to interview her about her sexual abuse. They’re not paying for the funerals of babies and children who died after birth, when they truly do become independent organisms. And the crazy thing is they think they’ve already done their job, because the child was born!
Aphids give birth, girl. It’s no miracle. You want to speak for the weak? Get off your high horse and get your hands dirty helping the poor, the isolated, the ill and mentally ill women and mothers and their children who already breathe the dirty air. You are doing nothing, absolutely nothing, for children. You don’t have a flea’s comprehension of injustice. You are not doing shit for life until you get in there and fight that darkness. Until you understand that abortion is salvation in a world like ours. Does that sound too hard? Do you really think suffering post-birth is more permissible, less worthy of outrage?
“Pro-life” is simply a philosophy in which the only life worth saving is the one that can be saved by punishing a woman."
An LGBT rights group in China called Queer Comrades is launching a campaign to raise awareness of transgender people and trans issues.
As part of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia next week, the group will hold a special event that will educate the public about transgender communities. The event will include a showing of Brothers, the first documentary about trans men in China, and organizers are already reaching out to media for coverage.
‘Chinese society is currently still largely unaware of the plight of transgender people in China, who face stigma and discrimination on a daily basis,’ said a statement from event organizers Queer Comrades.
‘With the event, we focus on bringing attention to transgender communities in China and increasing public understanding of transgender issues.’
plot twist: the man thinks, ah, she is simply expressing her frustration as a member of an oppressed group, whilst hating the construction of masculinity that was designed to keep her down, not all individual men such as myself…this is absolutely not the same thing as sexism and not a personal attack on me *keeps scrolling*
- it’s okay to be genderfluid but usually a girl
- it’s okay to be genderfluid but usually a boy
- it’s okay to be agender one day and bigender the next
- it’s okay to not identify as any specific gender
- it’s okay to keep your gender to yourself
- your gender is your own goddamn business
Women from Iran’s female police force, established in 2003. These ladies undergo a three year training program requiring intensive military courses including judo, fencing, firearm training, and laying mines. They serve alongside their male counterparts, work regular beats, and they do it all in hijab. Respect.
the bottom left picture made my night
can i just direct your attention to the middle right picture
These ladies look like they could bust you up big time.
fun fact: iraq, pakistan, afghanistan and saudi arabia have a higher percentage of women in the government than the us & the uk
another fun fact: white people tend to get very angry when you point this out to them