Me & White Superiority
Yesterday I had a white fragility meltdown…the kind described by author Dr. Robin DiAngelo in her definition of white fragility. I’m still pretty unglued today staring my White Superiority in the face.
I started, stopped and started over 6 different times in my attempt to dig deeper and be all the way honest about my White Superiority. Over and over I’m coming up against all the usual suspects of being performative, explaining and psychoanalyzing my behavior, and feeling frustrated and sorry for myself. I’m a cornered addict trying to squirm my way out of the “telling the truth” part my treatment. There’s no chance of faking it until I make it because BIPOC already know all my white woman tricks even better than I do because they live them everyday. They know all the tactics I’m trying to use instead of opening my eyes wider to the ways in which I feel superior because of my white skin.
Today I spent 2 hours with 2 Spanish speaking, brown skinned men who were working as day laborers outside U Haul where I rented a truck. Our only conversation was about what I needed and how much I would pay them. Between my pathetic Spanish and my exaggerated hand gestures, we figured it out. I felt superior in so manys way for those 2 hours, even as I tried to stop it.
I wrestled myself between wanting to get “a good deal” mixed with the part of me that wanted to pay them a good wage. The fact is that I can’t move couches by myself, I needed help and they were there available and willing to help. It’s a fair transaction and I paid the price we agreed to. Why did I feel superior?
I felt superior about my level of education, for being able to communicate in English, for having a job where I don’t have to do manual labor or get my hands dirty, and for being able to hire people to help me. I’ve never bothered to become fluent in Spanish, and yet I felt superior for assuming that I was more educated than these men? Very hypocritical of me.
I always make sure to tip well, I try to be extra easygoing, friendly and kind, and I also often feel superior to those that are serving me, more so towards people of color. I go out of my way to be nice as some kind of sketchy attempt at reparation that likely isn’t helpful, nourishing or restorative. I’m sometimes so concerned with people liking me that I lack authenticity, especially when I’m working overtime to hide my feelings of superiority.
I couldn’t relax in the truck today because of the elephant in the space between us. The elephant for me is the unspoken knowledge of my white privilege, fragility, silence, perceived superiority and so on. We both know it isn’t unfair and that I didn’t earn it. I probably haven’t worked as hard as they have and my life has most likely been a lot easier. This could also be a projection because I don’t know & didn’t find out.
I’ve often felt superior because I had a top level education from kindergarten to graduate school. I often feel I’m better able to think critically, express myself creatively, and teach myself most things I need to know. So many people are so concerned about getting the best education and having the best opportunities. I feel valuable being a product of it, but I also feel superior to those didn’t have that privilege. Ironically being educated is an area where I’ve felt confident, but at this moment I’m confronted with how completely uneducated, obnoxious, and cruel my behavior as a white woman and a feminist has been.
I’ve been wearing my pink pussy hat that a beautiful woman from Maine knitted for me as a gift. I just discovered that this is a huge no-no, the equivalent of the Confederate flag for Black, Trans and Intersectional feminism. Not all women have pussies! Not all pussies are pink…I honestly did not know that. Now I know. I will dye my hat another color and add tassels. I have since googled vaginas of different races and educated myself. My White Superiority had me only thinking of white, cisgender women with pussies (the kind Trump likes to grab…barf!) I also realize that this is just one of many examples in the history of white feminists leaving out and not standing up for BIPOC and Trans Women.
I’ve felt superior because I’ve assumed there’s some merit-based reason that I am better off, higher up in the hierarchy, less persecuted and less misunderstood than so many BIPOC. It’s dead wrong to think better off means better than or superior to. While my behavior is more controlled, my mind is often compulsively centering myself and feeling superior about so many things.
My mind is spinning with reasons that these words might not be true or maybe I’m exaggerating/being dramatic…The same thing white people do to BIPOC when they talk about racism.
I am praying for help from higher guidance while continuing to discover all the ways I’ve been wrong, ignorant and hurtful. It does feel relieving to drop the pretense of innocence and admit to my crimes. Time to break up with enabling white supremacy. Something new is brewing. #meandwhitesupremacy
This is in response to Layla Saad‘s 28 Day You & White Supremacy Instagram Challenge. @wildmysticwoman
Question for Day 5: “Superior: higher in rank, status, or quality.
White supremacy stems from this erroneous and violent idea that people with white skin and more superior to people with brown or black skin. The most extreme manifestations of this are the KKK, Neo-Nazis and right-wing nationalism. However, you don’t have to buy into this extreme ideology to harbour thoughts of white superiority. In fact, you can consider yourself one of the most progressive, liberal, we-are-all-one, peace loving white people and still at subconscious levels believe in white superiority.
Don’t believe me? Here’s some ways that it shows up: Tone Policing BIPOC and thinking we should express ourselves the way you or other white people do (whether talking about racism online or protesting racism in the streets, etc.). Subscribing to and elevating European standards of beauty. Believing AAVE (African American Vernacular English) is ‘ghetto’, and thinking the ‘proper’ way to talk is the way you and other white people talk. Primarily buying from and working with white entrepreneurs and service providers. Primarily reading books by white authors. Primarily learning from and supporting white leaders. Primarily staying on the ‘white’ side of town. Only sharing the work and words of BIPOC if you think it won’t offend or upset the other white people in your communities. Holding the expectation that BIPOC should ‘serve’ you by providing free emotional labour around racism. Believing in subtle and overt ways that you are smarter, more valuable, more capable, wiser, more sophisticated, more beautiful, more ‘articulate’, more spiritual, more you name it… than BIPOC.
Get honest and dig deep: what have you learnt about You & White Superiority. In what ways have you consciously or subconsciously believed that you are better than BIPOC? Don’t hide from this. This is the crux of White Supremacy. Own it.” – Layla Saad
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