Another hot day, summer in the city! I need to get off social media, especially the comments sections of articles on race. Wow, just WOW, white people!
It’s a hot-summer-in-the-city day, so I’m off to the beach.
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Enlightenment is not imagining figures of light but making the darkness conscious.
— Carl Jung
Anti-racist educator, Robin DiAngelo, has defined white fragility as “a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves… ” These defense mechanisms include outward displays of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and shutting down the conversation/ dialog
It’s enlightening to observe how some white people love me when I write about safe topics — topics that deal with individual merit or self-actualization, or relationships! But I become the Latino Frankenstein when my topics are uncomfortable. Whenever I attempt to write about systemic issues regarding race, for example, I become a pariah. I am accused, often by white people, of being a “race-baiter” or of “playing the race card,” of being a divisive element in our society. If only I would shut up, white commenters often whine, the world would be a better place.
When I did anti-oppression work, I would tell my workshop participants that staying in a comfort zone would amount to nothing. Committing the same actions and expecting different results is the best definition of insanity. In order to create meaningful change, we first have to get out of our comfort zones and face some ugly truths about ourselves.
People say that I shouldn’t write or talk or agitate against racism. That doing so is the problem and that if I only stopped thinking and talking about it so much, it wouldn’t be so much of a problem. Individuals like me who point out racism, it follows, are the problem! In other words, I should shut up.
I’m here today to tell you that this so-called victim mindset I am being accused of is bullshit Let me state what is probably already evident. To delve into the study of racism is to come face-to-face with the heart of the heart of darkness, to borrow Conrad’s phrase. To look into this darkness is to know despair. I certainly know this journey has been difficult for me. It’s easy to be overcome by the reality of de facto racism — to realize we haven’t really come that far.
But I will say this much: to know despair, to see injustice and resolve not to do anything about it is the essence of victimization. So, I ain’t shutting up anytime soon. Want to be a vic? Go ahead, keep your head in the sand. Don’t talk about it, don’t do anything about it. Neurosis is never a good substitute for suffering, it’s merely a series of strategies designed to avoid the painful.
If you’re going to engage me, you will surely feel the despair I speak of, you will begin to see some of this darkness. There will be times where you will become angry and defensive and — really — I can be wrong at times. That’s OK. the only thing white people need to decide is if they’re willing to shut the fuck up for a moment and actually consider that what I am saying or pointing to has merit. Too often white people will immediately dismiss any attempt to dialog and adopt an authoritative position. Fuck you with that bullshit. The fact of the matter is you don’t know jack shit. Really.
Many will not engage me, many more won’t even come around. That’s okay; I am not here to judge, or to influence people, or make friends, only to tell the truth. I will say this much: Dr. Jung was correct. You don’t evolve into an integrated human being by stubbornly refusing to peer into the darkness. That’s better known as neurosis. It’s the same as looking for a lost key under a street lamp because it’s the only area where there’s light.
If you choose to speak truth to power, it will be a lonely journey at first. People will tell you that you’ve lost your mind, that you’re part of the problem, and you will feel an almost overwhelming pressure to stop. I’m here to tell you that if you succumb to that fear, if you collapse under the weight of that despair, then you’re the ultimate victim.
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…