Woo y'all. Over the past few months, I've taken the time to sit in what it means to take up space as a white, able bodied, thin, cisgender, heterosexual female. I've been using my social media platforms to amplify the voices of Black and Brown folx while also sharing some reflections and calling myself out for unintentional, but harmful, everyday words and actions. In doing anti bias and anti racism work for the last decade, I recognize this unlearning and relearning is a lifelong process. I'm going to mess up. I'm going to continue to unintentionally push a white supremacy, patriarchal agenda because it surrounds me - surrounds all of us - everywhere we go. As a woman who holds privilege from the identities previously stated, I've become entangled by the contradictions found within the work. My greatest reckoning has been understanding the intersectionality of my privilege with my oppression - consciously viewing the world from different lenses, simultaneously, is both difficult and very, very necessary.
I'm still trying to navigate what space I want to hold, what space I should hold. Social media in and of itself is centering. What is my place as a white, able bodied, thin, cisgender, heterosexual woman here? Truth be told, I've been deeply sitting in my lack of identity work and how that in and of itself is by patriarchal, white supremacist design. It's erasure. It's violent. It's dangerous.
As a woman, I want to acknowledge that my voice, my experiences, my identities matter.
As a white woman, I need to acknowledge that my voice, my experiences, my identities have always been interpreted to matter more than those of Black and Brown woman.
As a white, able bodied, thin, cisgender, heterosexual woman, I must constantly be aware of how my identities are deemed the "norm," therefore "othering" people who hold identities different than mine. I don't know what I don't know - hence the necessity to be constantly aware.
There are times where I find myself wrapped up in "imposture syndrome." Unsure of my place, of my power - questioning what is the "right" thing to do. This is not imposture syndrome. I am not an imposture. I am a person at the intersection of her identities. I'm relearning what I should do when I find myself there.
I've learned to analyze through questioning:
What emotions am I feeling?
What identity is each emotion stemming from?
What is the power dynamic?
Who holds power?
Who is weaponizing their power?
Being a mama for intersectionality means I recognize both the power and pain my identities hold. With every awakening moment and feeling of accomplishment, I am committed to pausing so that I can approach the situation with an intersectional lens. How can I work so that all who identify with a mama role - in all capacities - have access to overcome the vast barriers our society has put in place? Especially the barriers my power upholds?
I'm listening. I'm reading. I'm unlearning. I'm relearning. Out loud.
I recognize my learning out loud is going to be centering my white voice. I also know that I am not alone in having these thoughts, these questions, these revelations. Furthermore, we should not expect nor go to BIP LGBTQIA+ of Color to educate us on these issues. As a person with resources, I welcome you to come to me with questions as you process your unlearning and relearning.
With that, I'd also like to amplify the work of Black and Brown folx who have guided my anti-racism work.
Sonya Renee Taylor: The Body Is Not An Apology
Layla Saad: Me and White Supremacy
bell hooks: Teaching to Transgress
Mikki Kendall: Hood Feminism
WE ARE - Working to Extend Anti Racist Education
REI - Racial Equity Institute
NPR's Code Switch
Google is free :) This is not an exhaustive list. I recommend purchasing any of the previously mentioned books from a local book store. Think about supporting one that is owned by a member of the BIPOC and/or LGBTQIA+ community.
In honor of being transparent, I am currently sitting in, reflecting on, and ready to call myself out in needing to be more intersectional as I share my pregnancy loss and my birth story. More to come.
Thank you for sitting with me.