THOUGHTS ON: The White Silence

White Feminism

Some posts flow from my fingers, urging themselves to be written, coherent and easy to tap into legible text.

This post, however, has been the hardest for me to write yet, not least because this past week has pitched my mood down to a real low. Writing this feels futile, redundant: I'm turning up late to the rally. I'm speaking out long after the fact.

Though none of me relishes the idea of setting pen to paper, in an effort to understand the madness of last week's election, I cannot bring myself to write about anything else. I can't pretend that I feel confident or positive. I feel shocked... and more than anything, I feel guilty.

"I'm a feminist," a former version of myself has said. I've tweeted the angry tweets. I've written posts about what it's like to be a woman. I've worn the title with pride. But then I look at what has happened this year and how little I have done, how little I have said, and the only hope I can find is that I now feel I will never let this happen again.

There's a quote, by Maya Angelou, that has nagged me this past week. "When someone shows you who they are, believe them." 

These words spring to my mind, every time I read something, hear someone, trying to normalise the election results.

Calm down, silly things, some have said. Stay positive, say others.

Yet truly, this is not a time to back down, to welcome a new leader, to pluck at his few fine qualities and grovel in the hopes of being on his side. Not when racially motivated crimes spiked; not when Muslim women were too afraid to wear the hijab; not when reports came of transgender teenagers - teenagers - were driven to suicide. And not when it's likely that we won't defeat climate change.

If I have learnt one thing from 2016, it is that if I am going to say I am a feminist, I need to act like a feminist.

"Calming down", and staying silent, are not options for those most vulnerable at the moment.

 It is a sign of my white privilege that I have been able to do so until now.

Writing to my MP, calling out those defending the president-elect and helping friends to set up political projects are all acts that won't make up for my complacency, my complicity. They are, however, things that are critical at a time like now.

We need to discuss the responsibilities of white people everywhere. We need to stop squabbling over what's racist, and what isn't, and start listening. We need to step up, stay vocal, and above all, to not "calm down".