I’ve been extraordinarily fatigued lately, and I’ve got good reason to be. Black people are now being seen and heard. We’ve been crying out for centuries, and it’s finally being heard. However, it has also been overwhelming and fatiguing, even with all of the hope that I’m seeing that things could possibly get better. What was very encouraging was to see white people out chanting “Black Lives Matter”. We need their voices. We especially need the voices of white women.
When I think of “white fragility”, I mostly think of white women. A great example was when a girl and her boyfriend posted something very racist, and she was pushing blame off on him. How he “indoctrinated” her or “retrained” her to think in a racist way. On the one hand, that is infuriating, as she is deflecting responsibility for her actions. On the other hand, society, especially American society, has taught her to be like this her whole life.
When we think of the word ‘fragile’, we think of something that is precious, easily broken, must be handled with care. This is how white people are treated in America. I can’t speak for other countries, but that’s certainly how it works here. White women, specifically, are seen as precious, and to be handled with care. Oftentimes, great value is placed on things that are fragile, and that must be handled with care. I’m certain that many white women will try to refute this, but from the perspective of a black woman, high value is placed on white women. It doesn’t matter whether they are rich or poor; they are protected and shielded in a very special way. Any time people are still talking about Jon Benet Ramsey at least 30 years after what happened to her, we see how much value is placed on white women. Meanwhile, a black woman was slaughtered unjustly after police illegally broke into her home, and fired off 20 rounds. On a sleeping woman. How does one justify doing that to someone that was sleeping?? We had to fight for justice to be served for this unjust murder.
I’m not saying white men aren’t guilty of “white fragility”, but with white women, it manifests itself differently. There are usually tears involved. For those that don’t know how to decipher what different cries mean, you would assume that she is sad, and that you’ve somehow hurt her. This especially happens when discussing race and prejudice. A person of colour says something, a white person feels the need to weigh in on it to assuage their white guilt. Hint: it’s usually a white woman. When the person is called out for not letting the voice of the person of colour stand alone, she gets defensive and angry. Then she cries.
White women aren’t accustomed to this kind of discomfort. It sits with you, and makes you question yourself. Maybe you aren’t as “good” of a person as you thought. You knew deep down you weren’t doing enough to begin with, and now you feel guilty. So you cry, hoping that you will be soothed by the people around you. You were taught to do this. You were taught to defense mechanism is crying, so that people would immediately jump to your rescue. “But I am a good person”, “All lives matter”.
I was reminded of when my sister and I were young, and one of us had a birthday. If it was my sister’s birthday, she would get the cake and a lot of presents and attention, but someone would sometimes slide me a little something so I didn’t feel left out. “All lives matter” reminds me of that. White people are feeling like children that are left out, and not getting a gift. The difference is that we aren’t talking about something as paltry as gifts. We’re simply talking about being treated fairly. Trust and believe that no value is being taken from you by putting the spotlight on someone else. That’s how it always should have been.
Once you realize and see that the way we’ve done this society has been unfair to begin with, you’ll start to understand why “black lives matter” is important. You’ll start to see that you’ve been trained all your life to play the victim, and that getting defensive against those who challenge you to grow and develop has been stunting your growth as an individual.
Women (in general) want to shout “I’m a grown ass woman” until the end of time. Well, let me tell you what grown ass women do. When someone offers a critique, they sit with it. They weigh it, and see what about it might apply to them personally. If something does apply, they take that, and try to see what they can do differently. If something doesn’t apply, they just bump it, and move on. We don’t immediately reject and deflect it, and shout “all lives matter”! We don’t shut it out and get defensive. Sometimes it is hard to swallow when someone criticizes us, but it’s also a chance to change. In the bible, when it talks about Jesus judging our sins, it really wasn’t to make us feel like we were so horrible and beyond hope; it’s more of a gentle nudge that whispers “Now I know you’re better than that.” If you feel any sort of guilt when criticism rolls your way, it’s probably because you know you can do better than that, too. We need you to do better than that.
You’ll hear this time and time again, but it’s not all about you, and it never has been. What you do does make a difference. The way you talk to essential workers and people in service work, how you spoke to or treated a person you sat next to on the plane, and what you teach your kids or kids that surround you, whether you speak or not. It all makes a difference. You might have off days, and that’s just life and being human. None of us are perfect, but please strive to be perfected.
This is a huge growth opportunity for our nation and the world, but we need white women on board too. If anyone can pilot this change, it’s women. We’re much stronger than anyone gives us credit for. Our voices and narratives matter. We all have to work together, educate ourselves, then educate others. Racism needs to die. Women, let’s work together so that all lives can really matter.