When Anger Makes You Deny Privilege

Black Friendly When We Need You” was cross posted at Feministe.  My experience blogging there has not always been the most pleasant. In fact many times I have felt down right attacked, but I have continued on because I believe that we need to have conversations openly and honestly, if a change is ever to happen.

My feelings on the blame game that resulted from the yes vote on 8 are still extremely raw, actually that may even be an understatement. When I went to read the commentary on that thread, I saw an instant vision of red. In an effort to attack the racism that I view that many are engaging in when it comes to Prop 8, I was blind to my cisgender privilege and made the following comment:

 On a post about coalition building and why it is necessary to examine privilege when it comes to assigning blame, this is the shit I get to read. You know I’m about to say some really honest shit. If you are gay and you walk down the street does anyone know for certain that you are gay? Well??? Guess what no matter where I go my blackness is available for all to see. I cannot hide it, I cannot blend in and I cannot pretend for one moment that it does not exist.

While what I said about colour is most defiantly accurate, what I ignored was the cisgender privilege in that statement. When I made the statement about visibility, I was not thinking about trans people, and the issues that come with “passing” (I hate that term but don’t know another to use).  I excluded them in my effort to make a point about racism, and thereby belittled their experience. 

As conscious as I try to be, I mess up.  Now I could  say that I was prodded into that statement by some of the ignorant commentary on that thread, but really I know better. There are no excuses for “othering” anyone in any circumstance. 

My commentary on that thread is the perfect example of what I have been talking about in reference to oppressions being linked, when I accused liberals of not having the courage of their convictions due to the usage of an oppression to fight an oppression.  I wanted people to take racism seriously and I privileged my oppression as a POC to do so.

I have acknowledged my mistake, but where to go from here? As principled as I try to be in the way that I lead my life, I instantly reached for what was comfortable in my rage…hierarchy of oppression; otherwise known as oppression Olympics.  I know that I am not the only person to be guilty of such behaviour, what I am interested in is the why.

Is it because the pain of oppression is so personal?  Is it because of a need to lash out when one feels hurt?  Honestly I have no answer.  I do know that it is wrong. So my question is how do we go about unlearning privilege at times when we are challenged?  It is easy for me, or anyone, in a time of calm reflection to recognize “othering”,  but doing so at a time when emotions are raw takes a different level of consciousness.  It seems that I have not reached that point yet. 

I tried to re-engage after apologizing, but my heart was no longer in the debate after realizing my mistake.  Suddenly seeing a reflection in myself of something I am ardently against spoiled my spirit for the fight.  Tomorrow I might feel differently but for now, my disappoint is deep and bitter.  The only consolation that I can give myself is that it was done in anger, and the knowledge that I never would have done that in a state of calmness.  I guess I am just sharing with you a profound sense of personal disappointment in myself.

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