*** YOUR DAILY DO’S – FRIDAY, 7 AM ***
Thank you all for starting this journey with us in #Race101. I saw a lot of openness, humility, new awareness, and willingness to be vulnerable. I also saw a lot of defensive statements that demeaned and ignored the valid observations of women of color. I heard some very painful personal stories of loss and prejudice and humiliation that deserved every ounce of compassion and outrage we could muster… but that nevertheless demeaned and ignored the valid observations of women of color. I did not know what to do about those stories – meet them with compassion, or continue to focus where this group needs to focus, which is on bringing our equal respect to the voices of women of color. I messed up a lot. We all did. I had to apologize a lot. We all did.
Some of you are saying that these conversations are evidence of our weakness, that these conversations divide us. Hear me: RACISM is what divides us. The social hierarchy that supports masculinity, whiteness, heterosexuality, able bodies, binary gender identitites, physical attractiveness in the narrowest possible definition… THIS is what divides us, and I know we agree on that. But what we don’t all agree on is that our problem is not outside the door or across the aisle. It’s COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE.
This group owes a huge debt of gratitude to all the people of color who took a risk and spoke up in these conversations, posted articles that they knew would challenge us, and were willing to be a part of the education and growth of this group, even though it cost them emotional labor and it wasn’t their job to do. THANK YOU. I am personally in awe of every person of color who is still willing to come to the table with us.
You have one Daily Do this morning. Read this and decide if you’re in. Not PERFECT, but in. Not DONE, but in. In to learn. In to get schooled a little, or a lot. In.
1. Indivisible WA is NOT YET Intersectional... but it wants to be.
2. We believe in the importance of acknowledging Intersectionality.
3. We believe that women of color have been let down and made to feel unwelcome and unsafe in this group and others like it. Most women of color show up for white feminists; most white feminists do not show up for women of color.
4. We believe that many of our white members are unaware of the actions that they have taken to make WOC feel unwelcome and unsafe here. We believe that many of our white members feel safe and welcome here, and do not understand why WOC don’t.
5. We do not believe that talking about race is divisive; we believe that unacknowledged racism is divisive. Whether we talk about it or not, WE ARE DIVIDED, and the line separates us by color. When you call for unity, right now, you are calling for the silence and withdrawal of WOC, which is unacceptable to this group.
6. We trust women of color to know when they have been marginalized. When a person of color tells a white person that he/she has overstepped, we will believe that person of color and apologize.
7. We believe that defensive responses by WW prioritize the feelings of WW over the dignity of WOC, and break trust.
8. Defensive responses include: Questioning the perception or credibility of the WOC, claiming to understand a WOC because of personal trauma or hardship, doubling down on the fact that you're a good person/not a racist/didn't mean to say that, refusing to acknowledge the unique burden placed on WOC as both women and POC and instead recentering the conversation on your own personal trauma or hardship, referencing your previous activism on the part of POC, saying that you’re being attacked/persecuted/shamed, etc.
9. WOC do not need to ask "nicely" for basic respect in this group. Our respect must be given without condition.
10. If you are a WW who wants to become racially conscious, you must rewire the way you think and interact with other human beings. This is VERY hard work and it takes time. You have spent your whole life living in a society that prioritizes your intentions and good heart over the real pain and indignity of WOC. It's natural that you would say, "but I didn't mean to." It is natural that when someone responds NOT with, "Oh that's ok," but rather with, "Your intentions don't matter," that you would feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, or shamed. The WOC is not responsible for your feelings. You are responsible for your feelings. The WOC has the right to tell you when you've hurt her. Go back up to #6 and then apologize.
11. Indivisible of WA is fully committed to race awareness, race consciousness, and alliance. We are not there yet. But this conversation is not going anywhere. If you are tired, me too. And I've only been talking about this for a week. Imagine if this was your life.
12. When WW try to explain why a WOC is wrong about her feelings or perceptions, we demean and belittle another human being. Imagine you meet someone whose name is spelled “Michelle.” You say, “Nice to meet you, mish-ELLE,” and she says, “Actually, it’s ‘MIKE-ell.’” Would you say, “No, it’s mish-ELLE. I’ve seen that name before. I know how it’s pronounced.” No, You would not. Because you are not an asshole. Even if you thought, “HUH, that’s not how I would pronounce that.” Even if you continued to think, “Michelle’s name is spelled weird,” you would call her MIKE-ell, because you don’t get to control another person’s name (and for that matter, SHE probably didn’t pick it either. Just like her race.) When someone tells you how to pronounce their name, you LISTEN because you don’t control their name. When someone tells you that you just stepped on their foot, you LISTEN because you don’t control their pain. When someone tells you that there is racism happening in the conversation, you LISTEN.
13. When we inevitably mess up, we will not double-down and insist that we know how WOC should feel/talk/respond/understand the world. It’s like parallel parking – no matter how good you think you are, sometimes you just mess up. When you do come in at a wacky angle because you were distracted or tired or just OFF, do you clench your teeth and keep saying, “Dammit, it’s this car in front of me! Why is its back bumper shaped like that?” Do you keep backing up even though it’s clear you’re about to crash? Or do you say, “Oh damn, I messed up,” and pull back up, and try again? When we get defensive, and someone points out a defensive behavior, we must hear that response, BELIEVE it, and take a break until we can listen again.
14. White people are responsible for their own education and race awareness. People of color are exhausted and after a week of conversations about race I can see why.
15. We are all racist and say and do racist things sometimes. We are ALSO all here because we share a vision for a better country. We are here to get better.
These 15 points are non-negotiable.
If you are in, understanding that we are all human beings and we will all make mistakes, hurt each other, get into scraps, and miss opportunities to learn, but that those opportunities will continue to present themselves as long as we continue to keep one hand on our humanity and LISTEN to each other as equals, please comment below.
If you are struggling to agree, that's SO OK! We are all on a spectrum of comfort in our awareness and ability to engage in this extremely painful and complex topic of racism in this group. Read the article below, and then sit with yourself for awhile. Then if you have questions please PM me and either I or another member of the group will talk with you confidentially and without judgment. Do not comment. Comments that are defensive or recentering will be deleted and the poster PMd by an Admin, not because we want to silence you, but because we want to have an opportunity to hear you in a private conversation.
Katie Anthony is a writer, one of the administrators of Pantsuit Washington, and heads the Daily Do's team.
Liz Bander - writer
Angela Teater- Writer