With all that is going on in the world these days, I wanted to write about something that is very personal and close to my heart. It is very ugly and hard to deal with at moments. I have White Guilt. White.
For me, white guilt has always been there. And I think many people feel it who are white, they just don't look deep enough to realize it. You see, humans are designed to be in balanced relationships. Relationships work where there is equal give and take, push and pull. When there is not equality, there is often anger on one or both sides. The one with power is angry that we allow them power (I know, you think everyone wants power, but not if you clear away the junk..power is just another way to hide, disconnect from one another) and the one without is angry that the other is taking the power.
When we put ourselves "above" another, it is just a way to protect ourselves. But telling ourselves we are "better than" or "different". That imbalance LIVES inside of us and it can control many things we do.
When I lived in the city of Chicago, I had major poverty guilt. I was employed, not hungry and had a warm place to rest my head. Anyone selling Streetwise, the homeless newspaper, would get a dollar from me, even if it was my last one. I felt the imbalance. I had to do something.
When you see a homeless person and think "get a job" or feel angry that they are putting it in your face, that is you feeling the imbalance. Humans can get angry or sad or maybe even spurred into action when we are faced with our subconscious knowing of an imbalance. When we get mad at minorities or view other groups as "less than" it is because we are feeling our own lack of balance and anger of the imbalance between ourselves and them comes to the surface. Anger is our societally correct default emotion, after all. Anger comes out when you don't know what you are really feeling and do not take the time to look. Think about that next time you get really angry.
There is a meter inside of each of us that warns us when things are out of balance. But we often misinterpret the output of this meter and think it is "them", rather than ourselves, our subconscious, trying to correct the imbalance. We look outside of ourselves for answers, when they are almost always within each of us. We are feeling the imbalance. It hurts.
Accodring to the U.S. Census http://federalsafetynet.com/us-poverty-statistics.html, only 12.5% of the population is African American (black), but 24.1 % of the entire poverty population is black, compared to white where only 9.1% live at or below the poverty line, it affects us all. When blacks are impoverished, it is different that white poverty, as they often live in "double poverty" due to entire neighborhoods being impoverished and lacking the resources of other neighborhoods.
Then we have the racial slurs that are seemingly becoming more mainstream. What?! I thought we were past all of that. I thought the" kkk" (I heard someone say lower case when saying kkk and I loved that they took away the capitalization of this organization..muwhaha..yes, evil laugh) was a long gone scar that we had moved past. Just a bad memory. Not an actual group that was still thriving and meeting and spreading hate. And I am white. So white.
And then we have the anti-immigration movement. Aren't we a country that was founded on helping people escape religious persecution? Oh wait..no, we persecuted those that already lived here for our own religious ideas. We came here seeking freedom, only to take it from others when we could have just co-existed. Who persecuted those people of color? White people. White.
The way we have historically treated Mexico? OMG! If you do not know the show "Adam Ruins Everything", please check it out. It is on Tru TV and his show on immigration will rock your world when you hear the history about our treatment of those people of color that we did not learn in school. And who did it? Yep Whites. So white.
And I hear these whites clumping people of color into groups of terrorists and criminals. I have not heard noisy people of color doing that. I am sure there are some, somewhere, but not forcing in my face, like some whites do. When a white guy breaks into your house and steals your stuff are all white guys then criminals? No. No one generalizes whites they way whites generalize various people of color. White.
Thank you, people of color, for not generalizing me and making me like the whites with the big booming voices that spew nonsense about religious groups or specific cultures, countries or subcultures. I DO NOT want to be lumped in with them. I understand if you feel you need to, but I hope you will not. White.
Thank you for not hating me immediately because the systems that people who look like me set up, are unfair to you. And then we say that they are NOT unfair. Not biased. Not skewed in our favor. White.
Thank you for allowing me the space to try to find my biases. Everyday. I do look and listen, but I can't see all of them yet. Because I was raised in a country that is inherently racist. And we will not even admit it out loud. White.
Thank you, people of color, for getting up on the El Train when I was very pregnant with my daughter in 2004. No white men ever stood up and offered their seats. Only men of color, who were taught that women deserve respect and they gave it freely, to a white woman. White.
Thank you, people of color, for allowing me to coexist with you, even though I have not done everything correctly. I say stupid things at moments because the guilt I feel can be very heavy and hard to manage. I am still learning and trying. White.
Thank you for forgiving me when I fail. Please tell me when I hurt you. White.
I am so grateful to be able to see my biases, a bit more everyday. And I hope I can continue to let them all go, because I have White Guilt. I don't want to hold anyone down, or judge anyone based on anything other than the character in their hearts. And even that does not need judgement. Just acceptance...which means I need to accept those that are judging too..ugh. That leap is too big for me right now. One big lesson at a time.
I do believe that everyone deserves love, even those that have marginalized me, as a woman, sexually harassed me or worse. And, maybe, if we give enough love and acceptance to those that believe they are better, they will stop feeling they need to set themselves apart by looking down and controlling.
Less of everything else that is fear based. Because we only have two true emotions, after all, Love and Fear. I want to live in love.
Thank you for reading about my guilt. It doesn't alleviate it, but it is helpful to be understood and that is how we build bridges to get to the love part. Listening and understanding.
I love you, Kat!
About the Artwork
This piece is called Explosions of Love. I just started drawing it one day and I like it. A lot. So here you go. I hope you like it too. As a friend in college said "if the rainbow only had one color it would be boring" to explain different colors of people. I always loved that description. So this is the rainbow of people in the world. One color of people would be so horribly dull. This picture would be dull without the multiple hues.
Lost in My Mind by The Head and the Heart.
I picked this song because we all get lost inside of ourselves at times. Lost in our own pain, lost in our thoughts, ideas, dreams. We forget to go inside to find our answers. Get lost inside and find your answers, if you dare. I can help any day.