As a white person it’s easy to fall into the pitfall that is white guilt. Before even understanding constitutional/structural racism, you will likely have felt guilt on behalf of figurative ancestors. And some of you may actually be in the lineage of people who owned slaves, allowing you to carry generational guilt.
Here comes the important question: Does you expressing that you feel guilty of any of this help anyone today?
I’m quite convinced it doesn’t. And once you start talking about your white guilt you may experience guilt from expressing it, especially when you’re reminded to not project your white guilt on other people. A few days ago this happened to me, where I ended up projecting white guilt onto something a friend wrote online. Today, I could easily make excuses for why I expressed white guilt, but that’s only really important for myself in regards to not doing it again. But the occurrence reminded me what a vicious cycle it can be and how easy it could be to get trapped in a never ending spiral.
As stated above, if you express your white guilt, and someone in your surroundings call you out on it, you’re likely to feel another pang of guilt wanting to apologize profusely again. And in doing so you make the whole thing about you. You’re not doing anything to solve any of the systemic racism we all live in and are affected by, you just start spiraling and building more guilt about all the times you did something wrong.
“Why am I not allowed to express myself”, is possibly something you’re feeling right now. And honestly, you are allowed to express yourself, but you’re not free from the consequences of it.
I see it as part of any personal growth, you need to be willing to do a lot of internal work. Let me say that again: You Need To Be _Willing_ To Do A Lot Of Internal Work. I hope I emphasized that enough. Doing internal work can still allow space to vent to a friend or confidant, but try to avoid doing that to any friends who are at the opposite end of your white privilege. They don’t need to hear it, it’s not what they need from you, it will most likely drain them. As Bianca Xunise wrote “It’s not my job to absolve you of your white guilt”.
This is why I believe that anyone who feel like they are experiencing this kind of guilt, myself included, need to practice nipping it in the bud, as soon as that white guilt creeps in. Just don’t entertain it, and especially don’t express it. If you need to do something talk with yourself about it (this can be done in text, like a diary or such, or a letter to burn, or your workbook for dismantling your complicity in white supremacy).
I can’t tell you exactly how to have this conversation with yourself, but if I were to do it I’d take a lesson from coping with anxiety: ask yourself questions about the negative thought, the thought about feeling guilty. Ask yourself leading questions, questions you probably already know the answer but need to hear the answer to, you may not even be able to answer it immediately, but have to ask again or ask another question to work around it. These kind of exercises can be done mentally or written. Eventually this becomes second nature, and you’ll do it unconsciously.
Why would white guilt and anxiety be treated the same? I’d rather phrase it like this: Why not take lessons from areas where we’ve experienced how to cope with difficult things? It may not work in every situation, but where it does, it does.
This is me, trying to practice to not let my white guilt take over, but rather work pro-actively to help other people begin their anti-racist journey.
While musings can be supported elsewhere, I will never ask for money for any of my anti-racist work, and every time you’d consider giving me money for it I’d rather have you support other creatives or organizations who are non-white and already having these conversations and doing the work. Alt. if you really want to support me, support someone else with half of the money for the same time. You can read about Anti-racist work for White People here.
I started using a Bullet Journal in early January. It was my first time, and it really clicked for me. Finally a tool that works with ADHD.
Considering how many years I didn’t even know that I had ADHD, me not realizing that Bullet Journaling could work for me comes as no surprised, but it also feels a bit unfortunate. I partially wish I would’ve been able to organize myself and my thoughts this way much sooner. Then again, I wish I would’ve understood that “yes, I have ADHD” a lot earlier too.
In September 2020 I decided to journal every day, and I did for about 3 months. Now I still journal a few times a week. I soon got eager and excited about buying a new journal, and maybe trying out a dotted journal. I would let myself buy it if I kept writing my journal until the end of the year. And I more or less did.
Kicking off 2021, I was ready to start using my BuJo, but I didn’t do it immediately, because it felt like an insurmountable task to even start. So I began with a table of content spread, and wrote myself an introduction. This is something I’ve done with some journals in the past. And I figured that maybe it would make it easier for me. And now, I don’t even remember what I wrote in that introduction.
The important part for me was to get started, and writing an introduction and setting expectations helped with that.
I didn’t really plan on writing anything about my bullet journaling, I didn’t expect that I’d become one of those people who dedicate their “content” to the magic of the bullet journal (no shade). And I don’t think that’s what this is. Rather this is me exploring something peculiar.
In my habit tracker, I accidentally set my writing (w) to every day for the next 7 days, when it was supposed to be walking (o = outdoor/walking). And because I don’t have whiteout, it will just sit there and wait for me to be done or failed, and I figured I may as well write something about it.
So here we are, at the end of this blog post, talking about how Bullet Journal Without Whiteout is rough. And I can now add this point to my writing tracker of a written and published post.
In my dreams there are places I've never been
I wonder if we meet there when we both dream.
The places aren't old, nor are they new.
they are definitely not blue,
are they maybe borrowed?
While they are just the same, over again,
and I know that I've been there before.
Opening up like a maze, it just makes sense
once you get there, but never before.
I keep walking through door after door,
up the stairs, and then down the stairs.
Yet its core is out of my reach,
it's like a place I'll never breach.
Then in that stairwell, you give me your
hand and show me the door,
which leads to that central core.
It opens up, to a big cafeteria, and people laugh and talk,
the clock strikes 5 and they have closed their shop,
but we can still see the tasty treats offered up.
This is a place I've never seen,
yet so many times in my dreams I've been.
It comes back all over again
and becomes its own in my mind,
in our shared dreamland.
This poem was not sponsored by my patrons, but it could be in the future. If you would like me to be able to write more of them, feel free to head over my patreon and check out the tiers there, $2 will hopefully eventually start sending poetry straight into your inbox! (it’s a process) Alternatively, check out my support page for more info.
This blog post will contain spoilers from Grey’s Anatomy up until season 16. If you haven’t watched it yet but intend to, I’d recommend you not continue reading here. That said, if you’d want to know what to prepare yourself for, there may be reason to continue reading.
non-character (real): possible death, covid-19, lockdown
I’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy pretty much since it started, but the past few years (quite a few years) I’ve not been watching it regularly, but I will catch up once in a while. Recently however YouTube began recommending me clips from the show, and I knew if I began watching them it would start recommending me clips from episodes I haven’t seen yet. Even knowing this I watched a few, which I knew I’d seen, and then down the rabbit hole I went.
Eventually I began seeing clips from more recent episodes. I knew that the series had come up to season 16 (and now 17), and that a lot have happened. I knew that Derek had died but I hadn’t seen how. Which means I haven’t seen season 11 in full. I had however seen Christina Yang leave, at the end of season 10, but I don’t know if I actually had registered it as her leaving permanently.
I was enjoying watching clips, reminding me of the powerful episodes that really stuck with me, that would always make me cry, and that would make me cry more than I think I’ve ever cried to any shows. I used to use the show as my wind-down on Friday’s while I was still on sickleave, but training to leave the house regularly. It helped me cry and let out any stress that built up over the week. And me watching these clips this week was helping me do just that (it’s surprisingly stressful to move during a pandemic, and the 3rd lockdown in England).
I got to see two of my favorite broken characters not only get together (which I had seen on the show), but also get married, as the clips showed me. And here is where it took a really bad turn for me. So many times Alex Karev had said to Jo (Wilson) that he wouldn’t leave her. When I saw the clip of them finally getting married, my heart sang. They were growing together, and becoming stronger and better people together.
Alex’s development had partially started in earlier seasons with the help of Izzie Stevens. But she had left him in the most heartbreaking of ways, without saying goodbye, she had just left him a letter and gone away. He had later told her, that he didn’t deserve someone who’d leave him like that. And he was right, he deserved better.
So that brings us up to the dreaded 16×16 episode. We find out that Alex has left, for real. He was “missing” kind of, not where he was supposed to be. And his friends and wife get a letter each, explaining what happened and why he was gone. And it just hurt so deeply.
While I understand why they kind of had to go with it creatively, with Justin Chambers leaving the show abruptly, emotionally I’m reeling. It just pierced me with the reality that even when you think a relationship is good, and strong, and even fortified against any kind of disruption. Even when you know you would communicate about your issues to try and fix it, you could get hit by something completely unexpected.
In the story line there are somethings which makes it kind of make sense. There are children involved, children that Karev didn’t know about when he married Jo. Children made with frozen fertilized embryos he and Stevens had saved when she was going through radical cancer treatment. Embryos he had released to Izzie some seasons earlier. Karev brings this up in his letters.
A part of his letter that really bothers me is this part: “It was like no time had passed when we started talking again” (paraphrased). Because the last time they saw each other wasn’t necessarily a good time, it wasn’t a time where they were happy and in a good relationship. I understand what they were trying to go for where, when trying to salvage the actor leaving so abruptly. I also went to do some digging, what was his actual last scene, and yeah. It was tame, it was him reading out letters in court.
I guess in a way, this was not just Alex Karev leaving his wife, but also Justin Chambers leaving Grey’s Anatomy. “There’s no good way to say goodbye.” When that goodbye is happening on short notice because your priorities changed, and you want to go elsewhere, you may end up in this kind of a situation. Chambers has been on the show for 15 years. And it’s understandable that he wanted to go out and spread his wings and get a chance to get new opportunities.
I am pondering if it stung me harder because of the stress in my own life right now. Big life changes, me and my partner are moving into our first house together. Our own house. And the stress of moving, combined with the current pandemic, and feeling like a lot of things are out of my control, and I just have to keep swimming in order to stay alive. The thought that I can do everything right and everything can change by the drop of a hat is incredibly painful.
This isn’t revealing any hidden emotions or thoughts about a possible ending of my current relationship. But rather just reminding me that anything can happen, especially right now. Either of us could die, either from Covid-19 or something else.
I did not think I would write a whole blog post about this, but it kept stirring in my head, and I kept crying to various clips and montages relating to this particular episode, and some other heart-wrenching episodes. I just needed to put it into words.
Tell me about something in a story that struck you a lot harder and deeper than you had expected it to?
If you enjoyed this bit of musing, and would like me to be able to write them more, feel free to head over my patreon and pledge your support! Alternatively, check out my support page for more info.
I weigh my heart, and care for other people around me. I weigh putting into words what others need to hear. I weigh connecting people. I weigh community. I weigh my curiosity, always looking to learn more about the world, and people and cultures. I weigh my imperfections, and also that I am looking for ways to improve where I can, without pushing too hard. I weigh my physical and mental health journey, which is a never ending winding road. I weigh that I care.
If you’re reading this, it means you survived 2020. Congratulations!
I think it’s important that we recognized what a victory merely surviving this year was. Especially if you’re disabled, an immigrant, BIPOC, or part of any other minority groups.
Now that it’s over, the year feels both short and mega long. It was the year with a million billion months, in July. It was the year with forest fires we forgot. It was a year of plague and fascism. It was a year with revolution and riots.
It’s easy to think everything is done and over once we turn the leaf to a new year. We can close a chapter, but we still need to remember the content and lessons of that chapter.
We still need to continue fighting. We still need to take care of the most vulnerable people in our society.
However, today you can say that you survived 2020. And you should be proud of that, and you should celebrate that.
Cherish your chosen family. Remind them you love them.
I watched this YouTube video, and wrote this giant comment at the same time. Figured I’d share it with you. Enjoy, and maybe tell me your own thoughts with each point as you watch the video. You can do it here, on fedi, or Twitter. Or find my comment on the video and respond there.
Breathing, I tend to hold my breath for extended periods of time when I’m stressed and tense. But now breathing makes me feel lightheaded. Am I breathing too fast, too much oxygen…
Inconsequential contests, we watched Dragula earlier today. It is such an over the top fun show. But I also tortured myself with watching something painful, because fighting pain with pain is good right?
Crosswords will probably not work when I’m too stressed. I lose so many words, but then again maybe it would actually help. Your brain processes things differently when you step away which is nice. I should ask my mom to send me a Swedish crossword book from home.
I’ve been reading so much since July, but the past few days my brain just stopped. I need to pick something lighthearted to distract me maybe. I recently read Colour of Magic finished it in October. So good. Ohh, I should reread Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! Yes! Thank you.
(I’m writing this giant comment to keep myself distracted but also focused enough to watch the whole thing and not go look for more election stuff)
Exercise, I… The fucking pandemic is just making me afraid to go out, and I hate it. I know I love getting out when I do. I should start again. Hopefully after I get some sleep. Or exercises at home.
I have been cooking the past few days, it’s been so nice. Fried meatballs and cooked pasta in the middle of the night tonight. Baked banana bread earlier in the evening. I guess I knew I needed something to comfort eat tonight. Cook foods you enjoy eating. Remind yourself what you like to eat.
Cleaning, my housemates were a way for a few days, so I got a chance to take care of the house, as a preparation for when I get my own house. I got a chance to try out things that I’ve been mulling over, but never really get the chance to do because my house mates does some of the things out of habit before I can get to it (it’s their house).
Body scan meditation helps be relax. I think we can it something else as well. But just going through each group of muscles, tensing to relax. It’s so good. I think I have a recording of this somewhere, I should try to find it.
Yoga often makes me feel like I’m walking on clouds afterwards. I miss it.
How do we seek unrelated news. Phew. I wouldn’t even know where to start. I rarely seek out news as it is. I did decide today that I wasn’t going to look at the results during the evening, and try to not think about it. I can’t change the results by watching them. They will be what they will be. We’ve done what we can. I’m prepared for the worst. I wasn’t 4 years ago.
Video games, yes! I’ve played graveyard keeper, it really got me stuck. Similar to Stardew Valley but a bit darker, and goofy.
I’ve been taking hot showers, sometimes sitting down and just relaxing. If you don’t have a bath bring a small towel over your shoulders to keep some of the warmth in.
I’ve been journaling every day since the beginning of September, it’s helped me a lot. In processing. Seeing patterns. Seeing myself. Seeing my thresholds. I also managed to start some creative writing again.
Researching stuff for home, I’m dreaming about the house we’re trying to buy. But the process is so slow because of the pandemic and social distancing. So right now I dream and plan.
Seeing a conversation about traditional publishing, and the issues with it and how books that seems like a treat don’t make it through because traditional publishers just don’t know how to market it my mind went on a tangent.
What if we allow ourselves to write for a non-traditional audience? If you’re neurodivergent, like me, you may know that you have trouble to sit down and write some of the thoughts and stories you’d like to write because you have this idea of what traditional writing should be like.
For a while, after having a long period of severe aphasia, and memory loss, and my mind just wasn’t putting words together, I was able to write smaller sentences again, and kind of string them together into something someone could read. I could tell it wasn’t an article, it wasn’t a poem, nor musings. But in a way it could be all of those things. I was letting myself write to the little capacity I could, and it brought my joy and I could tell others saw themselves in some of it.
We tend to get hung up on what we think writing should be. Because we’ve been taught all the rules. It’s common to say that knowing the rules are needed in order to break them. And it may be true in some cases. But what if we just let go?
What if we just let ourselves write that sprawling messy story, where we don’t go from point A to B in a straight line, but we jump to D and C, maybe X and J, on our journey to tell whatever we’re telling.
Let yourself write in the way you think. And let that be it. You can always come back to it, and create something else out of it.
Don’t restrict yourself with writing the perfect lines. Just write for the joy of it.
Sometimes, when I give myself time and space to think, connect the dots and so forth, I also am able to write something down in a coherent matter, like this post i wrote just now while having breakfast, because a conversation between friends hit the right notes.
Why do I write this? Because I needed to read it years ago. Heck, I needed to start learning about this in kindergarten if not earlier. All the links I’m adding in this post is for you to read, some will be pointed at more than once to drive home that point. I don’t want to just reference them in passing, I’m trying to point at them for you to go look closer at.
Mid-Covid-19 pandemic, I found myself thinking “now is not the time to write this anti-racist article”. As those thoughts danced around my consciousness I realized that they are part of the problem. “Now is not the time to talk about racism”. We always find excuses not to talk about racism, and to not be political. It’s always the time to talk about racism, and anti-racist work. If you didn’t yesterday, there’s no better time than today. And now, as May ended and June began with the Black Lives Matter protests against Police Brutality, it’s even more important for us to talk about. Racism isn’t a new thing, and racism isn’t something only pervasive in America. The racism that killed George Floyd was built in Britain [UK resources]. It is so easy to deflect and point fingers at another country as being guilty of racism and anti-blackness, but never look yourself in the mirror. It’s about time to learn your history, especially from the perspective of silenced voices.
This blog post is partially inspired by conversations I see regularly on Mastodon/the fediverse, conversations about how white that space is, and how we as white people fail to do our part. While sitting with the feelings those words evoked in me, I always found myself making excuses, because of my own health and disabilities. I accepted it as truth, even when reading and agreeing with people criticizing white women for hiding behind their queerness and disabilities. So I had to check myself, and thought: what can I actually do? I can talk with other white people about these things, to slowly help change how people behave and talk, and think. When I can’t talk with them in a physical space I can always write.
This article is not me trying to provide all the answers, but rather me gathering some of the resources that other people have already shared, so you in turn can find it and share it with other people. I want to highlight some of these issues, but also help other white people to start looking at their own actions, behaviors and habits, and give you some tips for how you can change and challenge yourself.
For me this is one way to try and be more anti-racist, as sharing this with you should help alleviate some of the work that we tend to put on Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). This post will become a collection of resources, both embedded in the text for you to come back to when you’re ready but also specifically listed towards the end. You can read it through once and then go back and look at the links, or head over to each link along the way, whichever feels more comfortable to you. Take the time to process, take notes on how you feel, how you react. Sit with it. Be silent. Just listen.
I will keep referencing my own experiences, because I want to show you that it is a process, and that you wont change or improve over night.
White Privilege – Where to start
First of all you need to see that you as a white person have privilege because of the colour of your skin. This can be hard to recognize, and even harder to accept.
It is so easy for us to say “but I don’t have privilege because x y z.” There are many ways, a lot of us aren’t privileged, but other ways we are. When you’re white, you do not have to deal with people being biased towards you because of the color of your skin, you can never get away from that.
If you as a woman can reflect on sexism, and see how patriarchy has molded you, then taking the next step to also see racism, colonialism and capitalism, isn’t too far off. This is exactly the leap which Peggy McIntosh made in their “White Privilege – Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”, and in turn their text was definitely an eye-opener for myself and many other people.
Do you have White Privilege?
1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
2. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.
3. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
4. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
5. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
6. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
7. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
8. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.
9. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods that fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair.
10. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.
11. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.
12. I can swear, or dress in second-hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race.
13. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.
14. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
15. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
16. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world’s majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.
17. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.
18. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to “the person in charge,” I will be facing a person of my race.
19. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.
20. I can easily buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, and children’s magazines featuring people of my race.
21. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, or feared.
22. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of race.
23. I can choose public accommodations without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.
24. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.
25. If my day, week, or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it has racial overtones.
26. I can choose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more less match my skin.
There’s more to the original text than just the above list, and this list isn’t perfect. It is however an opening portal. Whatever your opening portal is, be it the White Privilege text, be it a break-in like described in this update from a Awaken Café, it doesn’t matter, because you are reading this far because you want to start to see, you want to unlearn your racism.
Understanding Racism: Everyday, Structural and Intersectional
It is so easy for us to be ignorant of our everyday racism and microaggressions, especially when we do not see that racism is so much more than just “individual acts of meanness“. We are unable to see that it is systemic issues, which we perpetuate on a daily basis. The hard truth is that we, as white people, are always benefiting from white supremacy, every single day.
Structural, systemic and institutional racism is pervasive through our society, and if you aren’t looking for it you probably don’t see it. Unless you’ve been taught to see it from an early age, like pretty much all BIPOC who are raised by non-white parents (adopted or birth) have been. White people however, were probably only taught in school that slavery was a thing, but it’s over since over 100 years ago, and the American people had the Civil Rights Act of 1964 . And then you are taught to not be mean to people because they are different than you, and that’s probably it.
For example, in Swedish education we are not taught about the systemic oppression of our indigenous population, Sámi people. And you should ask yourself, what do you know about the indigenous population of your country, and the history of how your government has treated them? And the fights they are still having to have in order to be recognized?
Systemic racism is also upheld through capitalism. Capitalism relies on a lower class, an othering, in order for us to shift the work onto someone else. Since the birth of capitalism, with chattel slavery, up till now, our society relies on this. Our society has built its wealth off of the backs of BIPOC for generations.
“Racial capitalism, which is to say all capitalism, is not a thing, it’s a relation. However, if we look back through the history of capitalism as it developed, we see that the understanding that those who own the means of production had of their differences from those whose labor they exploited were understandings that we can recognize today as racial practice.”
This brings us onto one of the things which makes it possible: othering is used to divide and dehumanise groups. It makes us think of others as less than ourselves. It makes it easier for you to accept that those people don’t deserve to be protected. It’s a way to distance yourself, they don’t have names or faces. You will view them as “those people” or refer to them, to their faces as “you people”.
We often actively do not want to see the connections between all of these things. We do not want to see how all injustices in our society are interconnected. We’ve all heard about the cobalt mines with child labour over the past few years, right? Yet we’ve still bought a new device which uses lithium batteries during that time. This makes us complicit. It makes me complicit and it makes you complicit.
Yes, I know, this is a lot. And there’s even more to untangle. I just want to help you grasp that we ignore some of these things as defense mechanisms, it’s too big to grasp all at once. For example if we’d try to only eat ethically sourced food we may have to spend most of our time focused on finding that food until it becomes a habit, until we know a lot of the good choices out there, same goes with clothes, electronics etc.
I would like to use intersectionality to help us understand the things we don’t see. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot, but I do think that you can use intersectionality to help you use your understanding of one oppressive structure to begin to see another. If you for instance know and understand ableism, sexism, or transmisia, you may be able to use that to recognize that there are other things you don’t see yet:
You know that other people don’t see the things you do because it’s not their lived experience. You know how difficult it is to explain these things to them because it is just out of their realm of things they know and understand.
In a way it’s an unknown unknown, they don’t know that they don’t know it.
If you think you know and understand everything in the world, it pretty much means that you don’t.
Sit with that. Let it sink in.
It can be painful to accept, but once you do it will unlock so much room for growth and things you can learn in the years ahead.
Human beings are naturally curious, sometimes this curiosity can be used for good.
Allow it to do that for you, get curious again, and listen.
Sometimes listening means just being silent, and hearing what people are saying. Sometimes it means engaging with what they are saying, not necessarily with them, as a way to process the content. Sometimes it means to sit down and write something, like this.
Where do we go from here?
There’s a lot in this article, and you may not be ready to process everything yet. Take your time with it. I hope you came here because you already started to see the cracks in the facade of white supremacy, and wanted to start untangling it, without really knowing where to start.
Now that you’ve begun to see, to put it in the words of Ursual K. LeGuin in her Essay “A War without End”:
The shift from denial of injustice to recognition of injustice can’t be unmade. What your eyes have seen they have seen. Once you see the injustice, you can never again in good faith deny the oppression and defend the oppressor. What was loyalty is now betrayal. From now on, if you don’t resist, you collude.
The Wave of the Mind—Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination
You now have the opportunity to begin resisting, together with millions of others across the world, and that is a beautiful thing.
Do not put the burden on BPOC
It is so important that white people put in the work on their own. We can’t continuously expect other people to check us and tell us when we’re doing something wrong, we have to learn to review our actions and introspect.
It is easy to say “just come to me and tell me when I’m being racist or anti-black”, but that is putting the onus on someone else to do the work, instead of yourself doing quiet introspection over time. It’s okay to look at yourself and say “I have been racist, I participate in the structural racism, as I’ve been socialized and indoctrinated to do. I have acted in ways harmful to others.” Accepting the wrong you’ve done is the first step to doing better, and less wrong. No, you can’t take it back, but you can start harm-reduction today.
Things you can start doing:
There’s a saying about if you can look back at yourself 10 years ago and cringe, it means you’ve grown. So allow yourself that, by admitting to the unsavory things that you’ve done in the past. Here are 10 things you can start doing today:
Start by listening to at least one other voice that is Black, Indigenous or a Person of Color. If you use Twitter or Youtube, you can start by extending who you follow with few black voices in something that interests you. E.g. a few years ago I woke up one day realizing how white my entire twitter feed was. I slowly started to listen to more and more black voices online. We shared similar interests which allowed for an intersection. And since we had very different lived experiences I got a sneak peek into a different world. I began learning about cultures I didn’t know much about. I continued by following other voices that were associated with them, got boosted by them, and so on. And I was there to listen, and give support. When you do this I think it’s important to just listen for a long while. Read, fav, boost. Listen. If something makes you curious, see if you can google it, or ask a friend.
Read, watch, and listen to more culture produced by Black, Indigenous and People of Color. In the long run you will learn a lot about how cultures can differ, even within the same country or state.
Practice being silent. Any time you read something and you want to RESPOND. Don’t. Yes, this takes practice.
Do not use the N-word. Do not quote it. Do not sing it in lyrics.
If you have money, donate to a fund that hasn’t reached it’s goal yet, I’d recommend starting from the bottom of any list you find. There are a lot of underfunded crowdfunds, bail funds, and 115 other ways you can help by donating.
And lastly, be willing to learn, and expand your horizons by learning about how vast the world truly is.
Learn how to apologize.
The journey continues
Made it all the way to the end? It doesn’t actually end here. Being an anti-racist is defined by your ongoing work, not that you declare “I’m not racist”, because being not racist isn’t enough if you do not start seeing the issues you are perpetuating.
Growth is painful, and you will feel a lot of weird emotional stuff through your journey. Even writing this whole thing has been a painful work for me, with a lot of anxiety for various reasons, but we have to push through. We have to keep doing the work to change the world for the better.
Just keep in mind that you’re not alone, and I’ve been where you are. The things that look like a lot of work right now will become habits and internalized soon enough, and then you’ll start being able to see when others are doing the things you used to do, and you can help them start their journey to becoming an anti-racist.
There is a lot more to talk about, and if you’re noticing something that’s missing, you can join the conversation with your own article, or blog post, extending upon what we’ve talked about here. Let us continue this conversation together.
Additional materials and resources
13TH has been on Netflix since 2016, and I keep recommending it to everyone who start to open up their eyes to racial inequality. Now it’s also available to watch for free on YouTube, in full (embedded below). On Netflix there’s also an interview with Ava DuVerney (director and producer of 13th) by Oprah Winfrey.
Free Ebooks by revolutionary BIPOC. With subjects such as racial politics, black and Marxist feminism, prison abolition, racial capitalism, critical race studies, indigenous studies, revolution, and more.
Body and Soul—The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination, by Alondra Nelson, available to read for free online.
Facing a slew of media requests asking about how protests might be a risk for COVID-19 transmission, a group of infectious disease experts at the University of Washington, with input from other colleagues, drafted a collective response. In an open letter published Sunday, they write that “protests against systemic racism, which fosters the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on Black communities and also perpetuates police violence, must be supported.”
The people in our household have come to the point where we’ve lost count on how long we’ve been in lockdown, especially since we started self-isolation long before that, but a few things have become clear: Lockdown depression is here to stay.
Disclaimer: I do not have a neurotypical brain, as I probably have ADHD. The content in this post may or may not be relevant to you.
So, it might sound macabre to say that the lockdown depression is here to stay. But to me admitting that I was actually dealing with depression again, when it’s been some years since depression was my main issue, made all the difference, because I know how to deal with depression. The past few years have mainly been physical issues causing depression like symptoms occasionally, and there is a difference between the two. Knowing what your dealing with makes it easier to bring out the right tool kit. Like you wouldn’t try to use an Allen Key for a Phillips screw. No that’s not true, we’ve all tried it, because getting the other tool would be too much work. But we also know how it ended: the wrong tool didn’t help you handle the problem nearly as efficient as the right one could’ve. That said I feel like it’s also important to note that efficiency isn’t everything, and do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, but if you have the right tools available to you, do take a day to try them.
When I realized that I was dealing with depression and remembered that I have an entire toolkit to deal with depression, which is slightly different from dealing with anxiety and other ailments, I decided to get to work.
The first try actually resulted in a severe backlash, so be aware that your mind may punish you for trying to fix all the things at once. At first when I realized that I can help myself feel better I started by trying to take a walk every day, and showering and cooking etc, all at the same time. And for my brain (I dunno if this is a ADHD thing, a me thing, or a general thing) just went “what the actual fuck”, and kind of shut down even more and led me to be more depressed. This was when I realized that just taking better care of myself wasn’t going to cut it I had to restart entirely. For me this was when I decided to really get back to basics.
What do I mean with basics? Well, this will vary for different people and I’m sure I’ll get plenty of tips from you all after reading this as well, but for me it was this:
I don’t have to do anything.
I chose one thing every day that I want to do (emphasis on want), and try to do that.
Disclaimer 2: If you have a family and children or pets to take care of this will probably be a lot harder to accomplish at least in the way I’m going to describe it. But if you find yourself depressed in such a way where you’re not taking care of yourself or them this may be the place to start. For example: if I had still had a dog my one thing every day would be taking care of the dog by a small walk with them and feeding them. That also ended up being where all my energy got allocated, and then I’d return to bed and cry, or go to the computer and distract myself while being very numb.
Context: one of my most extreme ways to get out of my depression was leaning full into it. I was in my early 20s, and I had all these “must”s and “should”s looming over me, and it was making me sick. Even writing about it now makes me feel uncomfortable, and I can feel those sensations in my body. I had to remove myself from everything that had “I have to” or “I should” attached to it, until I was ready. So I stopped showering unless I wanted to, I ate danishes for breakfast or dinner if I so felt like it, or a pint of ice cream. All of these were associated with myself, I still took care of my dog even if it was the bare minimum. I don’t remember how long this period lasted, because it’s well over 10 years ago, and I don’t recommend it as a first solution, but when nothing else works I know I’m the back of my head that I can always try that. But, since this wasn’t the extreme I wanted to go to yet, I needed a different method.
Step one was telling myself to stop trying to force the good things to happen. Stop trying to force myself to do all the things (which had caused a backlash), but I didn’t want to go as extreme as I had in the past.
Thus I decided to choose one thing a day that’s what I want to get done today. Saying that I “want” to do it, rather than I “have to” do it, also makes all the difference. There’s a cognitive difference there, and even if you know you’re tricking yourself by changing the wording, it may help. For the past week I’ve been doing this, and every morning (or noon or late afternoon) I’ve decided on a thing I want to get done that day to make myself feel better about having done something. Today it was to take a shower. A few days before that I wanted to make a proper meal, enough for leftovers which I could have later. Each of these things made me feel better that day, and by me saying this is the one thing it relieved a lot of pressure from myself because I didn’t have to do anything else, unless I felt like I could, and I still did good.
Choosing one thing that you want to do every day doesn’t mean you won’t do other things. You still can, but it’s important to remind yourself that you don’t have to do anything else. Earlier this week when I also had “shower” as my one thing, once I had I felt good about having done my one thing, so while I was in the kitchen I ended up wiping off some surfaces, I helped my house mate in the garden, and I made late lunch for me and them. It’s important for me to reiterate here that this isn’t supposed to be a trick to tell yourself that you only do one thing today, but then secretly plan other things, your mind knows these things, so be careful of creating backlashes because of that.
On Saturday this weekend, I spent all day doing nothing and eventually realized that I wouldn’t get one thing done. I chose to forgive myself for that, that I can’t always do something. Some days are just going to be horrible. That night had been terrible, and I had not gotten nearly enough sleep, and I needed to just wind back down from that.
In choosing to forgive myself I removed the pressure of “I have to do something today”, yes even the one thing is some pressure, which I try to make it fairly small, and beneficial so the cost is outweighed by the reward, and so I can get it done first thing when I get out of bed. Removing that weight from my shoulders helped me relax again, and eventually that evening I sorted out a box so we can move some boxes upstairs (I moved into a couple of my friends’ house a while back, and we’re still shuffling stuff around). I do not think I would’ve been able to do that if I hadn’t forgiven myself.
Another tip, bonus, is to be the friend to yourself you’d be to your friends. Tell yourself all the things you’d tell your friends when they were struggling with similar things as you. If you can’t do it in your head, try writing it down as a conversation, or something like that.
In these trying times we need to take care of ourselves and each other. For me sometimes the best community care is self-care, because the better I feel the more of myself I can give to others. You can not pour from an empty cup.
How are you dealing with your lockdown depression? Or mitigating it before it even turns up?