The sheer number of things that have happened in just one day is nauseating. It is not safe out there, at all, if you’re a woman, LGBTQ+, a person of color, Muslim, or… pretty much anyone who didn’t support Trump. There is very, very serious violence in our country today, friends, and the kumbaya sing-along isn’t going to cut it.
Here’s the thing. I’m trying my damnedest to be optimistic and to provide hope and comfort where I can, but in many ways, it’s not my place. As a white woman, I need to shut up and listen, because while I’m a potential target of this hatred and violence because I’m a woman, I’m not overtly part of any other targeted group. Being white is keeping me a lot safer than a lot of Americans are tonight.
Being white doesn’t make me a bad person, but it makes me part of a privileged group. This is something that I need to acknowledge because this means that I have no place telling people to calm down and cheer up because “it’s only four years.” As a white American, I have no idea what it’s like to go through what Americans of color are going through right now. This isn’t because I’m a bad person, but because I cannot understand something I have never lived. It’s the same reason many women will tell cisgender men that they have no right to comment on women’s issues as though they’re authorities. It’s the same reason that members of the LGBTQ+ community will tell heterosexual and/or cisgender allies that they just don’t get it.
Being a person who is in a position of privilege doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad ally, but it does mean that you have to shut up and listen sometimes. I need to shut up and listen to the stories about what’s happening. I need to participate in the conversation about race even if it feels uncomfortable for me because it isn’t about me. It’s about the women whose hijabs are being ripped off of them and in some cases used to choke them. It’s about the women of color being threatened with sexual assault. It’s about people being told to return to their home countries, even if they’re American citizens. It’s about slurs being scrawled across homes and cars and prayer rooms. It’s about swastikas and confederate flags and imagery I can’t even bring myself to write about because it’s so sickening.
As a white American, I need to shut up and listen to these stories, and then I need to be active in helping to make things better. This is not about me; it’s about making the world safer for all of us. It’s about saying something when I hear a slur. It’s about standing with people who are being threatened. It’s about putting a stop to anything even resembling that kind of behavior in children because they’re young enough to learn a better way. It’s about calling adults on this behavior because they’re old enough to know better. It’s about donating when I can, time if possible and money when I can afford it, to organizations that are reaching out to offer protection and support.
We need to stand together. Sometimes, that means we need to shut up and listen. Sometimes, that means we need to put our money where our mouth is.
And while it will vary in type, it always means that we need to act.
There was a panel in one of the issues of the Maximum Carnage series that has always stood out to me, and I found a scan of that panel on this forum page. Spider-Man is beginning to lose hope, and Cap offers him this advice. For those who can’t read the text, I’ll transcribe it below the image.
“Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right.
This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences.
When the mob and the press and the whole world tells you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world—
–‘no, you move.'”