I had to spell-check the word privilege just now. let’s just move that to the top of the privilege-checking things.
ok, now that I’ve got that out there, I can at least move on, thinking about and acknowledging the rest. that’s the first part, action comes next. that’s the hard part.
I can’t stop thinking about privilege and most recently, it comes in the form of my race. my white privilege. that’s taken the forefront because of, recently anyway, Ferguson.
I recognize that I grew up in a white area - white community and undeniably, Wisconsin is a really white place. I don’t always know how to talk about race, but up to now, I offer a listening ear. I offer up the understanding of an outsider.
I recognize that my current outsider status, or, my outsider understanding comes from a combination of three parts:
1. in my Madison community, I come from a lower-class background.
2. in my everyday life, I am an outsider because i am a gay woman.
3. in my daily life as a white woman, neither of the precious two things come into question until I make them known.
I don’t always openly advertise those things as I don’t usually tell people right away that my parents were 19 and 21, respectively, when I was born. I don’t say straight off that I was the first in my immediate family to attend and graduate from four-year college. I do not offer up that I was a four-year, letter-winning, division 1 college athlete. there are a lot of privileges i have, things that aren’t outwardly apparent, that your could use to pass judgement on me.
but the mine thing I keep coming back to, the thing that’s always on my mind is that I am a seemingly “normal” white woman who can live everyday with all of those things that set me apart from so many of my peers without being found out.
if only there were something to tell me apart.
the color of my skin!?
I’m not even sure. but I know one thing is for certain - that I’m constantly aware and checking that one piece if privilege of mine at each and every single door I walk through.
what are you doing?
and what can I be doing?
to actually move things forward. to take action. to make things better.
…and i do what I want.
like front-load my day with vegetables and lentils only to end my day with equally absurd amounts of pizza and beer.
if that’s not moderation, I don’t know what is.
We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be. The only problem is that there is also so much other stuff, typically fixations with how people perceive us, how to get more of the things that we think will make us happy, and with keeping our weight down. So the real issue is how do we gently stop being who we aren’t? How do we relieve ourselves of the false fronts of people-pleasing and affectation, the obsessive need for power and security, the backpack of old pain, and the psychic Spanx that keeps us smaller and contained?
Here’s how I became myself: mess, failure, mistakes, disappointments, and extensive reading; limbo, indecision, setbacks, addiction, public embarrassment, and endless conversations with my best women friends; the loss of people without whom I could not live, the loss of pets that left me reeling, dizzying betrayals but much greater loyalty, and overall, choosing as my motto William Blake’s line that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love.