I'm WitHERed: Election Fatigue and White Privilege

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It's the eve of the election. If you're reading this in the future, "the" election is probably something you know about. Do you need a year? Let's see...it's 2016. We have a talking head from reality TV resembling the color of Fanta that's been left out in the sun too long spewing hate that is too reminiscent of Hitler himself. As Luvvie says, he's basically Hitler's mentee. I mean...y'all! What in the world?!

And yet there's nothing he can say that will turn his supporters away! Walls to keep Mexicans out? No problem. Tracking Muslims in this country? Sure. Grabbing a White woman by the pussy?

Wait. A. Damn. Minute!

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Oh now you want to distance yourself. Chile! I can't. We could peel that onion but it's only gonna make you cry.

As the weeks have gone by, I've felt white women climbing on to that pedestal. Looking forward to winning the White House tomorrow and fully expecting the Black and Brown vote to deliver that into their hands. And yet...I've seen conversations attempting to crush the voices of women of color as they've pointed out the historical facts around the suffragettes and their blatant racism as a reason for why we won't be wearing white.

Instead of listening, we find that, once again, white women are centering themselves in this story and providing all of the tears needed to quench a Florida-day-in-July's thirst.

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This was best illustrated today when Kelly Wickham Hurst (fellow disruptor, badass and professional burner of all the shit that is not serving us) critiqued an article written by the dispenser of previously mentioned white tears. What ensued was the type of erasure, dismissal and butt hurt that I'm afraid we've all grown to know all too well.

But such is life. It's reminiscent of the hashtag #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen circa 2013.

I'm not happy with this election. Not happy at all. I looked at my options. I thought of the history of elections and most specifically Florida in 2000 (I might still need therapy over that one). And, I specifically thought of the air of fear that mixes in with the humidity here in the south. The one that you can taste, feel and not name.

This election scares the hell out of me. I'm sure a lot of you feel the same but, I don't think it's for the same reason. I'm not worried about what happens on November 8th as much as I am worried about the lingering hate, apathy and cognitive dissonance that has bubbled up over this last year.

My brother texted me the hashtag #ImwitHERed and I thought it was perfection in the face of how I feel. Dare I generalize? How many people of color feel about this election cycle?

Have you ever tried to put boiling water back in the teapot? You can't. It either has evaporated or, if you try to touch it, it will burn. And I'm very worried about who is going to burn as white women wear their white pantsuits in memory of suffragettes that would rather lose limbs than give a person of color the vote, celebrate their victory and forget about the votes that got them there.

But, hasn't that been the general MO? I'm not surprised. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a tad bit disappointed.

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In Search of Solidarity

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Fresh out of college, I got a job. It wasn't a terrible job. I kinda liked the people there. Family owned business revolving around quality control and consulting. The owners were cool on the phone and then one day the wife came in and saw me. I'd just braided my hair up for the summer. The next day, the complaints started coming in. About how I answered the phone. My own mother would call me at the office and could not differentiate me from the other young ladies that answered the phone.

Suddenly, I couldn't really do anything right. And I started wondering if it was the way I looked. But it couldn't be, right?

The wife asked me to go to their house for a meeting. In Bay Hill, an upscale neighborhood. She spoke to me about the beginnings of their company. About how hard they both had worked and how she did all the jobs necessary to make the company succeed. I thought it was great she was sharing this with me and suspected I'd be given a permanent position with the company.

Then she mentioned how they used to have to go to secretarial school back in the day. And she suggested I attend an administrative school. Me. Who just received a bachelor's degree in Psychology from what is affectionately called the Harvard of the south (Rollins College).

The next words out of her mouth were "I heard you like to write. That's good. It will help you with the English." I had never felt like that before. That mixture of disbelief and cold anger. Did she just insinuate that I did not know how to speak the language?!

Not my first run in of this kind but certainly one that I felt was the most pronounced. I didn't take action against her though a more seasoned version of me would have brought the attention of the world to their doorstep (did I mention they did lots of business overseas?). I gave them reason to "let me go" after I ended up with a mild concussion and was out for a few days.

But that's not the point of the story. No. While in her home, I got to hear all about equality for women. All about how she had fought for a place at the table. As she was attempting to show me her superiority while showing me around her unimpressive house. If she had just taken the time to step away from her privilege she would've understood that her fight for "a place at the table" was for her own plate and no one else's. Certainly not mine.

This is what I thought about when I read the tweets for #solidarityisforwhitewomen. It reminded me of that time because it was one of the few,if not the only time in this life that I truly felt alone in the presence of another woman. I felt let down by this thing called feminism that I had studied and vehemently claimed.

The hashtag can be explained simply: a conversation was sparked by Mikki Kendall and the ramifications and responses are global. The gist? I don't even want to give the background on Hugo Schwyzer because he deserves no attention. He was allowed to behave in ways he shouldn't have. Read it up on it, I won't waste words on him here.

Feminism is mainly represented by white women and that must change. With so many women of color speaking out and giving their own experiences with privilege, it's no wonder so many people are feeling uncomfortable with the conversation. I'm happy to see so many willing to sit in their discomfort as they learn, though.

It frightens me to be raising a little black girl these days. Because we are not as far along as I'd hoped. But the only way to get there is to speak. To come together with ALL women and try to find a solution. To the race issues. To the gender issues. I'm not sure where we go from here but I know it's not back behind the shade, to our spot of comfort where no one sees where we stand or what we fight for.

I think this topic might be uncomfortable for some but I applaud those who have been open to listening and not violate one of the four agreements: take nothing personal. Thank you for that. It allows us to speak in a way that lets us feel safe and heard.

Hands_QuoteWho holds your hands and are they lifting you up or keeping you down? It's something this woman of color has to think about because I am not privy to the privilege that would allow me to ignore the question. And it is something I hope my daughter does not have to ask.

Let's try and learn from one another. Shall we?