When I was in the ninth grade my creative writing teacher gathered our class in a rage. She claimed that our generation had no marrow—we were boneless and flimsy and filled with complaints. You could flatten our resolve like pancakes. Unlike her generation—the 60’s—brimming with fervor for change and revolution, we were two dimensional creatures with nothing to march for. She made us each write down one thing we 'd march for on a piece of paper. Carrying our declarations, we walked around the school. She wanted us to move, to act.
On the other side of the world, I watched on Instagram and the New York Times as my friends and family flooded the streets. It made me wonder a few things. 1) What creates change? 2) Do I have a responsibility to act? 3) Am I betraying my country and my fellows by living on the other side of the world living a blissful existence made possible, in large part, by my white privilege?
There is no feminism without intersectionality. Yes, I know what it is like to be a woman in America, yet I don’t even have the capacity, the language, to talk about my white privilege. Every time I begin to talk about it I get tongue tied and awkward and worry that I’ll offend people and sound ignorant. I’m afraid to use terms like “people of color” and “marginalized” and “white supremacy.”
I’m a writer who is afraid of words. And that’s bullshit.
There could not be a more perfect summation of the privilege I experience: I am afraid to speak for fear of saying the wrong thing, but there are people in my country who are afraid to drive, to walk down the street, to simply exist for fear of retaliation—retaliation for nothing but being who they are.
I’m not sure what to do exactly except this: I have a lot of time on my hands that I currently use playing outside. I can use at least a portion of that time to educate myself. If nothing else, I have the responsibility to learn, to grow and to share what I learn. So, thanks to Daria Reaven and Gabby Arca, I have a list of books to read to help me face what makes me uncomfortable—to find the language to move past my blockades and take the first steps towards change.
Here it is:
Everyone has tools and skills to bring to the table. Let’s set to work.