In America today, it is a privilege to have a baby (without your consent).
That is a factual sentence I can type. This is a truthful sentence I can say out loud including the quiet parts.
I love forming new, true sentences. Recently, I had the privilege of adding “my therapist wants to get a pussy print too” to things I can say truthfully with or without context.
There’s also the sentences I never thought I’d ever have to say out loud to another human being. Little things like “So you packed one pair of underwear for our weeklong trip?” or “Sorry I dropped taco dip on your cat” or “sorry my kid gave you bunny poop”.
Or the more serious, I have been pregnant 6 times, I raise 3, I have placed a child with an adoptive family, and I have had 2 abortions. I’ve been in a mental hospital 5 times, I had a psychotic break and totally thought I was a lot of reincarnated gods and goddesses, and I heard demons making fun of me on the radio. I also have a shit ton of white privilege, and I have no clue how racist I actually am.
All of these are words I cannot believe I can say, all are facts, and they all have vastly different connotations and context.
Which category does my first sentence fall into? What’s different? Reactions are such good teachers.
But without context, my pussy print story is far less salacious, but my first sentence is so much more important.
For context: I have been obsessed with learning about our history. In particular, slavery. It started because I saw a book called White Fragility, and it made me feel a kind of way. It happened during black history month, which I never understood why we needed one. Not because I didn’t like black history, I just never understood what was different. Isn’t it our history? Is that racist? Is it true? Because these things made me feel a kind of way, I thought perhaps I was exactly who that book was seeking to speak to. I have always believed those who have nothing to defend don’t get defensive. What do I feel defensive about, and what am I defending- I’m not racist? So I read it.
Then I read 10 more books on slavery. Not black history, our history. Slaveowners, white people, slaves, and whoever else could be used, abused, or killed. Slavery and white supremacy and it’s ever changing and evolving permutations. Then I read more, and I keep learning more. I did not know what I did not know, and there is nothing so dangerous as ignorance. If I was so ignorant of our history, as in the history that, if you don’t learn from it, you’re doomed to repeat, what does that mean? And what happens when you don’t know what you don’t know?
I learned how slaves were raped to increase “domestic supply of slaves” when the trade routes closed, or just to increase “domestic supply” because slaveowners didn’t have to import the “cheap labor”. More profit. I also learned how slavery was a $4 billion dollar industry, not adjusted for inflation.
Crazy how words can make things seem different from what they actually are, when we equate domestic supply and cheap labor with people. Crazy how easy it was to accept when those words were just different.
I also know white girls get raped all the time too, I’m one of them. I’m one of the white girls everyone likes to talk about in cases of rape and pregnancy. I had the privilege to choose the best outcome for my children and myself interchangeably as I needed, I also had the privilege to not give context on which choice I made when, consensual procreation or not. I didn’t see privileges because I didn’t understand the contrast of not having choice in what I was going to do next. Even if I had no choice in the rape, I had a choice of what I will do next. To me, that’s not a privilege, it’s a right. I thought rights were inalienable and given to all. Is that still true? Is it racist?
I also think it can go without saying there is a big difference in anything that happened to me, and what happened to enslaved women. In face of trauma, we all cry our tears. Our pain is something we all have in common, but my god, we must acknowledge and share that pain. Instead of make it sound better or less bad, or arguing how words make us feel.
Compared to the historical and present experiences of others, I will absolutely and emphatically say my experience is a privilege, though. It’s better than so many alternatives. I did not choose to be raped, I did not choose my skin color, but I did have a privilege to choose the next best thing. There are too many who don’t have that choice, still and it’s getting worse. Or is it?
I will absolutely also say to not be raped is a goddamn right too. I would say the ability to choose the next step for yourself in a given situation is so much an an inalienable right, we take it for granted and as a given until someone limits those next steps for us. These things could go without saying, but we’re fuzzy on rights right now, or at any time, really. And we can’t even have a conversation about privileges. Because none of this feels good. Should it? And if any of this does make someone feel good, are they pro life? Or are they pro some lives because all lives matter? What’s the difference?
I also learned the war on drugs disproportionately incarcerates and destroys the lives of black and brown communities. That’s how I learned the War on Drugs has created a lot of problems for every community. White people are overdosing like crazy now, so more people care, right? Is that racist or is it true? Is it true because it’s racism or because of racism it’s true? What’s the difference?
Look at how many more people OD on heroin and fentanyl. I have to say, coke and crack were much better alternatives and it is a privilege to OD on coke or be addicted to coke since crack will incarcerate you for life. What’s the difference? Same drug, snorted or smoked – it’s not more deadly like fentanyl vs heroin. But we fought a war on drugs and got those newer drugs. Millions were incarcerated, and millions more are felons, and all of them are losing their rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. While how many others, of all the divine beauty of colors of our skin, lost their right to life? It’s not those lives we’re talking about though, when we talk about the right to life, certainly not liberty, and definitely not the pursuit of happiness.
Compared to a life of incarceration and forced labor for no wages or being forced into a shadow existence like having felony convictions, overdosing can be a privilege in America too, no?
I thought a right to life was a right? Or is it a privilege? What’s the difference?
It’s also how I learned how many people are imprisoned, and how it is another system that uses “cheap labor”. I did not know the US has the largest prison population in the world. I guess I thought Russia was worse. Prison has a different name, and whatnot, but really, what’s different? If felony convictions make it perfectly legal to segregate and discriminate black and brown communities who are disproportionately, exponentially incarcerated and given felony convictions moreso than their white counterparts: what is different besides not calling it Jim Crow? Because whites get incarcerated too? Is that a happy true sentence I get to say now? Because all lives matter except those lives?
Oh well, we’re not as bad as those people, we’ve never illegally possessed/sold pot, snorted cocaine instead of smoking crack – which is the majority of incarcerations. Is it racist, is it true? I know I haven’t been incarcerated for any drug related charges, it’s a privilege, or is it my inalienable right to liberty that I thought we all got equally, because we’re all the same. Though, I’ve never been frisked, seized, searched, or denied due process AKA my rights. Is it because I’m white and that’s a privilege, is it because I’m American and it’s my right? Is it racism? Is it true? What’s the difference?
Would anyone else like to make an educated guess how disproportionately my first sentence will affect our various communities like it has in the past and present with the war on drugs? If a domestic supply of children are needed, but no domestic supply of care will be given, what is different now? White babies are given an interesting mélange of privileges, and “other” babies are given ….? Is this our right to life, or is this increasing domestic supply? What’s different? All lives mattering is starting to feel like a new way of saying domestic supply and cheap labor, or maybe I’m just crazy.
The biggest lie about white supremacy is that it’s in white people as a general term’s favor. It doesn’t benefit people, it benefits a system that is controlled and operated by those who want to reap those benefits. Before, it was slaveowners. What’s different now, and is it just different ways of saying the same thing too? I mean, whites get shot by cops too, and that’s apparently okay with a lot of people.
The second biggest lie is that white supremacy is made of big, bad racist people, and that it is not a system. Racism is a system enabled by overt action and covert ignorance. What populace needed to be well educated in order for democracy to survive, and how much ignorance is allowing not democracy to thrive? If this isn’t making sense, is Idiocracy a great movie or a documentary?
The idiots we’ve all seen make it easy for white people to say, oh I’m not racist, at least I’m better than ____. I don’t see color. I’m not racist. This type of racism just makes white supremacy easier to hide, because we’re not like those racists. We’re different than those racists. It’s like white supremacy plus plausible deniability. White supremacy is not people, it’s a system. But if people are enabling the system, what’s the difference? Isn’t it so much easier when at least I’m not ____?
The grammar of “I’m not racist” and “am I racist?” can change and save the lives of many different colors. Since all lives matter, this should be clear, but “I’m not racist”. Or maybe all lives matter until it affects me personally, then it really matters. Or am I racist? Are we racist? How harmful can using I, me, and they really be?
I’ll write it again: the biggest lie is that it’s in white people as a general term’s favor. It doesn’t benefit people, it benefits a system. The second biggest lie is that white supremacy is made of people, and that it is not a system. Any system benefits the people (making shit tons of money) using the system. Not the ones who are part of (privilege), used by (rights) or abused by (slaves) the system. To say I don’t see color is to say I don’t know how to read a book or a room. I got nothing.
Any system benefits the people who created and are using the system. Not the ones who are part of the system. The ones who are part of the white supremacy system enjoy the privilege of the racist system, don’t know they’re part of a racist system in the first place/being used by the system or they are abused by the racist system.
This system of white supremacy was created to give privileges to white people and enslave non white people. White supremacy is created to foster the racist belief that white is better or that colors are different. Or, the new, more plausible deniability one: normal or not there at all. White supremacy is a system fueled by the belief that there is a difference, enabled by the belief there is no difference or most pervasively: there is no system. Reactions are teachers, and reactions to these words may indicate where you fall in or out of the system. But, let’s be honest, the easiest indicator is your bank account.
During the time of slavery, which I guess is in the past(?), whites were given meager wages and better housing. They had very few rights and privileges beyond that, but certainly far more than the slaves. They also had privileges like better food, more freedom, and of course, the ability to look down on the slaves. They were also put in charge of the slaves so they could feel better, supreme, superior to the inferior different person. They could give the slaves hostility and torture. It could be worse, right? At least I’m not ___, right?
The privileges weren’t given because the whites were special or the system liked them more. Not because white is factually better or normal. The privileges were given so the whites would help, enable, and perpetuate the system instead of question it. The whites could beat down on the slaves who conveniently had a different color so the two groups wouldn’t unite to fight against the system (again). This was the genius(?) of a rebellion about bacon. But his name was Francis, not Kevin.
With white supremacy, your skin color determines your privileges or your abuse. Aside from melanin, there’s no biological difference in races. The entire notion is rooted in white supremacy. Since white supremacy is a system, you either benefit from, are part of, or abused by that system. We have been told we all have the same rights, but is that true? I know I have privileges, but is that still true? Is that still racist? What’s different now?
I thought privileges can be taken away, but rights cannot. They’re truth that is self-evident and inalienable. We had to make an amendment to asterisk we meant everyone of all colors and genders too. And dammit if we don’t want to keep arguing about who does or does not get rights that were said to be given to us all by our Creator. The same Creator whose religions are constitutionally separate from the government, (and probably ethically separate from the religious institutions that love name dropping) but that’s only someone else’s creator. Apparently, certain Creators don’t need the constitution, and can change rights for different groups. But, if a right can be taken away, then it was just permission, given to certain groups. Isn’t that a privilege? Is this racist? Is it true?
The biggest argument I ever had against the notion of white privilege was that I did not ask to be born a white female any more than any of us had a say in how we have come into this world. I actually don’t believe that anymore, I would suppose I did pick this particular spacesuit, but that’s just a different ignorance I learned about.
What my ignorance also kept me from seeing is how many privileges I enjoy from wearing my white space suit. Some of them are dubious, but many of them insulated me from opening my eyes, looking around, and seeing how… fucked shit is. But I still think many of those are rights that I was told we all have, but is that still true? Is it still racist? But if the rights came from our creators, separate from government anyway, why do I need government to give me that which is already mine?
With many of these new privileges (given to me by a racist system because of my skin color), when I don’t have consent to make choices – about my body or my next steps in pregnancy and god only knows what else, what is different now? Does it sound and feel better to say I am an American vs. I am an indentured servant, but at least I’m not a slave? What else don’t I know that I don’t know?
I have to hope now that as the lines between privileges and rights are getting weird, the lines I’m drawing here make more sense, and inspire more questions.
What type of sentence was my first one? What type of sentences are we really forming anymore? What type of sentences are we happy about? What type of sentences are just better than someone else’s sentences? And am I referring to a grammatical form or life?
With privileges like these, how sure are we about rights? And how much do we know about racism, and about White Supremacy. Are we repeating history, or are we living history with words that feel better?
And if you’re still here and wondering how any of this is related: What’s the difference? A well educated populace is needed for the survival of democracy. The inference, then, is a stupid, idiotic, ignorant populace is needed for tyranny. What would slavery and indentured servitude be defined as? We were a democracy then too, weren’t we?
The more I learn, the more questions I ask. I am only starting to learn just how dangerous ignorance is because I’m just starting to wonder how much permission I have, as I’ve been watching how much is getting taken away year after year. When any ignorant person cherry-picks rights, they don’t understand that they are taking those rights from their own pocket. The same ignorance that had to amend the Constitution to include all lives is the same ignorance fighting to protect some lives.
All lives matter, just some lives matter more. Fixed that for ya.
When you’re ignorant, you make a lot of sentences you can’t believe are true.
White Fragility by Robin DeAngelo
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race by Renni Eddo-Lodge
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
They Can’t Kill Us All by Wesley Lowery
America on Fire by Elizabeth Hinton
You Can’t Touch my Hair by Phoebe Robinson
Becoming Abolitionists by Derecka Purnell
TikTok Content Creators: