Racism sucks. I work/train in a white able bodied and middle class dominated profession where unacknowledged privilege takes up so much space, silences me, and infuriates me.
I sometimes wish that it did not get to me the way that it does. I sometimes feel like I’m not thick skinned enough to respond in a non victim way. Like I want to be the kind of person who can just ignore it and just know that it’s not about me. I want to be a fierce resister, full of black/working class/queer/disability pride and just not let it get in my way. But it just gets to me, it hurts a lot, it makes me cry, it makes me doubt myself, it makes me feel like I don’t belong, it makes me feel like shit. I’ve been thinking lately that that is exactly what oppression functions to do; that the way it leaves me feeling is exactly how I should feel.
Oppression destroys lives and communities, the oppression that I experience at work is not just one comment made, or the lack of space for other ways of being that are outside of the dominant culture, it is systematic, it is lifelong, it is historical, it is interpersonal, it is governmental, it is global.
It’s no surprise that it leaves me so depleted. In a way I guess I beat myself up for not responding in the right way when really there is no right way to respond. I think I find it hard because I want a way to avoid the pain of it but the truth is it fucking hurts to be treated like you are lesser than, it hurts to be constantly having to fight to be included, it hurts to hear the racist things that people say and the fact that I don’t ignore how much it hurts is not a bad thing.
It’s not like I don’t fight racism, its not like I don’t speak up against it and other oppressions. Its not like I don’t know that it is rubbish, that there is no truth in me being less valuable to society because for example; I use a wheelchair. It is one thing to know it’s another thing to live in a world surrounded by so many people who do not know my value, to be constantly having to fight, to constantly be surprising people because you don’t fit the stereotypes they have in their heads about you. Surviving oppression is hard work and not paid work, and not work in which you reap enormous rewards. I find the term ‘surviving’ a difficult one, on the one hand I think I do fucking survive, like it takes a lot to get through each day, and many days, I am just glad to have made it through. Yet I think it makes not ‘surviving’ seem like failure. Really how can someone fail at responding to oppression? I don’t want to have to face the horrible pain of being on the receiving end of oppression and then if I collapse under the weight of it I don’t want to then have to face the social shame of being a non survivor of racism or disability oppression or other oppressions.
I also don’t want to think of being in this pain the rest of my life, that is such a bleak prospect. I do wonder if I should choose an easier path, maybe just stay safe in a community of people that are caring and supportive. Maybe i should avoid white/middleclass/able bodied environments. I don’t actually know if that is possible living in a white majority country. Yet I don’t want to be boxed in, I don’t want to have to have less choices just because oppressive people make is so hard for me to do the things that I want to do. I’m left wondering what is the secret to getting through? How do I learn to live within it in a way that does not damage me too much? I am sure I have some skills at this, I must have done some managing so far in my life, but I just am not sure what else I could do to be able to cope more with it. At the moment I am just trying to accept how it makes me feel and how justified I am in feeling the way I do. I don’t know how or where I go from there.