I could just end this blog post at the title. It is, after all, just about the simplest distillation of my argument here. But I want to make a full blog post out of this thought, and in truth it would sound a little like trying to pass laziness off as a mic drop, so let’s extend this idea. I’m going to be saying some things over the next six weeks, but I will not be the first to say these things and I will certainly not say them best. This is because, as a person both with just about every kind of privilege this country has the capacity to bestow, I was fortunate enough to never actually suffer any of the kinds of prejudice I’m going to be talking about over these next six weeks, and those who have can speak to them more powerfully than I. There might, however, be some things I say here that you, dear readers, hear for the first time. And that’s a serious problem.
You see, there is something of a history in America, a history of privileging the voices of white, straight, cis-gendered men (and if any of these identifiers about myself seem unnecessary or ridiculous, then there is just that privilege at work). We see it in the way white rappers of mediocre quality often perform worse than their counterparts of color, the way Keith Olberman can say that an Eminem verse taking down Donald trump has “changed his mind” about the power of rap, conveniently ignoring the legions of darker-skinned artists who have been producing articulate and savage political critiques for years. We see it in the way legions of woman who have been sexually harassed are held silent by the knowledge that their accusations will be so easily dismissed that it would be as if they never spoke in the first place. We see it in the ways young white men convicted of sexual assault, and indeed almost all crimes, routinely face lighter sentences than their counterparts in other races. We see it all around us, in a thousand great and small ways every day that the voices of some in society are privileged dramatically over those of others.
So, to make it as straightforward and as obvious as I can: If anything that I say here strikes you as surprising, if anything you read here seems new and shocking to you, you have been ignoring others. If you read what I write and think I’m “woke,” you have been ignoring people. If you read what I write and think that I must be particularly insightful to have written it, you have been ignoring people. Perhaps it has not been conscious. Perhaps you have not even heard the voices that you have ignored. But if you have not heard them this is no accident, and if you have encountered them, this country has taught you to ignore them. I too, of course, was ignorant in this way, for a very long time, and in a great many ways still am. It is an ignorance, a history of prejudice, that must be actively scrubbed from our minds, and for us to be able to do this scrubbing we must confront what we try to eradicate. It is, again, an uncomfortable thing to do, to confront the fact that we have been conditioned to dismiss certain voices so easily. But it is what must be done.
This history of prejudice can, however, be turned on its head. If the voices of people like me are those that our society is predisposed to hear most powerfully, then I can use it to shout out the names of others society does not privilege so profoundly. If our society is predisposed to look at me, I will point to those who deserve to be seen far more than I do. To this end, I’ll be posting links to a few resources that you can use to find a bevy of powerful non-white blogs in the first comment of this blog post. They are well worth reading, and learning from. I know I’m doing so.
With excitement and optimism,