whipping boi

Sung to the tune of “no good deed goes unpunished”.  I’m not your whipping boi.  And I’m trying not to be a total douchenozzle – you know, being the white, overly defensive whining asshole.  In general, I try very hard (ok, maybe not my very best every minute of every day or anything like that, but still…) to be a decent human being.  I really do.  As I said I would back in July, I have been educating myself and identifying myself as someone wanting to help.  I have replaced no fewer than 4 Black Lives Matter signs on my property, which have been repeatedly pulled from their wire stands and thrown to the ground as well as stomped on and outright stolen.  I now have one hanging from my second floor porch (as well as one on my car).  I have been reading voraciously.  And I have joined groups that help combat injustice and spoken with our local police department.  I seriously have our state governor on speed-dial and have been calling him (sometimes several times) daily to voice my complaints and opinions for how to make the world a better, safer, less bigoted and hate-filled place.

I’m far from perfect.  I know that better than anyone else.  In addition to not being perfect, I also know (or at least have an inkling) how much I don’t know.  But I am trying, learning, growing, and on any given day doing the best I can.  And I do take issue with being reprimanded for not doing enough, not being helpful enough, doing the wrong kind of help (at what feels like every turn).  I have the queasy sensation that I’m about to enter politically incorrect territory; alarm bells going off in my head and “Danger, Will Robinson” ringing in my ears as my hand on the mouse hovers anxiously over the *delete post* button.  But I do my best *thinking* in my writing here, so I’m going to continue even at the risk of sounding like the stupid jerk I may very well be.

Last week I wrote part of the story about Joita running back to stand up to the bigger girls who were picking on another kid on the playground.  But I stopped the story just shy of the ending.  And that ending was that as the older girls stared at Joita in disbelief, dumbstruck that she was standing up to them, stopping them momentarily from teasing the other girl, that other girl smugly sauntered over toward Joita and spit at her (sort of a raspberry tongue sticking out spitting) and then walked past me and did the same to me.  Sometimes Joita’s oblivious nature serves her well – she didn’t even notice.

But I did.  Here my kid was putting herself on the line sticking up for this kid and what does she get in return?  A kick in the pants, that’s what.  A big fat raspberry.  And I’m not asking for accolades or even acknowledgement.  But there is certainly a wide chasm between encomium and expectoration!?  And, like Joita, but perhaps not to the extent of Joita, I’ve got enough shit on my own plate without sticking my neck out for others.  Especially when the response is going to be sputum.  I’m blatantly gender-non-conforming and I’m Jewish (and I wear a kippah/yarmulke all the time).  Let’s just say I stand out as *one of these things is not like the other* in a not good way.  In some respects, I’m a walking target myself.  So I’ve got my own struggles.  As I have alluded to in other posts, I find it easier and more preferable to speak up for others.  Unless I get spit at or yelled at for my efforts.

Before the election I’d been added to a “queer mamas” group on Facebook.  The group shared stories, asked questions and brainstormed answers to issues only LGBTQ parents face.  I didn’t post at all, but I did enjoy reading along.  The growing numbers of the group helped me feel a sense of community and camaraderie.  Many of the stories were amusing and lots were situations I could relate to.  And then someone’s partner quit the group (announced by the remaining partner) because there wasn’t enough support for people of color and white folks were not doing enough and/or talking too much.  And then 30,000 white queers immediately self-flagellated and begged forgiveness – though most had no idea what for.  And then someone pointed out that the Black Lives Matter movement had actually gotten quite a bit of engagement within the group.  And then someone else pointed out that it was all the white folks who were doing all the talking and not listening to the people of color.  Specifically, the queer mamas of color felt that “putting a stupid sign up in your yard” wasn’t even close to enough.  And then some white people were like, “I’m doing the best I can here”.  And then some people of color decided to break off from the group and form their own “queer mamas of color” group.  And then a few people of color said that the others didn’t speak for them and that they did feel supported.  But then some of the white folks were angry about the split-off.  And then the people of color who were trying to keep connection got angry.  And then the remaining people of color who were not totally frustrated by the whole thing tried to explain (for the gazillionth time) that white people will never truly understand what it’s like to be a person of color in America.  And I was really missing the photos of toddlers and tantrums during meal times. True story.

I quit the group.  I couldn’t stand that much tension and bickering.  Call me a wimp.  It isn’t that I don’t agree that there is undeniable white privilege.  It isn’t that I don’t see it and, undoubtedly at times, benefit from it.  At least as often as I am discriminated against because of my abstract gender (or my religious head-covering) I am also afforded privilege because of my skin color (or lack thereof).  I get it.  I see it.  And I’m not sure what to do with it or about it.  I try every day to, at the very least, not add to the problem.  I try every day to do something that will set the pendulum of change swinging the other way.  I’m not saying it doesn’t bother me.  It does.  I don’t want to be dismissive of other people’s feelings and experiences.  All the time (in between the running commentary in my head that I am a piece of shit) I’m thinking, could I be doing more?  Should I be doing more?  How?  And what?  For whom?  It’s disheartening to the extreme to realize you are shoveling shit against the tide with a teaspoon. {please pause for a moment to visualize this exceptional metaphor}  And the spittle that gets thrown back at you from the outgoing wave feels a lot like the raspberry that the girl on the playground gave me and Jo.

man-wearing-traditional-kilt-outfit-showing-kilt-pin-and-skean-dhu-ak5t5nThis came up again.  This time in *pantsuit nation* (the secret society of sanity on Facebook).  Someone suggested wearing safety pins on outer clothing as a sign of “safety” for anyone feeling threatened.  Some claimed this was an established underground signal and attributed it to the Dutch resistance to the nazis during WWII.  Others gave credit to punk rockers who have been wearing safety pins in defiance of bourgeois establishment for decades.  At any rate, the safety pin alliance gained momentum.  Crafty pantsuiters started bedazzling the pins and soon there were no safety pins to be bought at local stores.  It was all fun and games until… Until the backlash of rage at what gets defined as *slacktivism* happened.  First, some white (presumably straight, presumably Christian) man wrote an article (mansplaining) saying that the whole safety pin thing was a huge embarrassment and that those wearing them should just take them off because they looked stupid.  Some people felt the safety pin was offensive, patronizing and paternalistic.  Then the vertiginous ridiculous started up again.  Too little too late.  Not enough.  But I’m doing the best I can.  You don’t understand.  Neither do  you.  You’re not helping.  But I’m not making things worse, am I?  And on and fucking on.

I just shook my head.  Wearing a safety pin doesn’t apply to me.  No one is looking at someone of indeterminate gender, wearing a yarmulke as a safe haven.  Another true story.  But as someone who just might be the target of hate, I would welcome a safety pin sign (bedazzled or plain) that someone just might hold a safe space for me in a world that feels scarier by the minute, that I just might not be alone.  If you don’t want to wear one don’t.  But don’t make others feel badly about their small effort.  You have no idea what someone else’s life is like or what they’ve got going on or what they struggle with.  And believe me, (ooh, I just threw up in my mouth a little hearing that in trumpspeak)… but believe me, everyone has something they struggle with.

The thing is, first graders seem so babyish and dumb to sixth graders.  And sixth graders look so puny and stupid to high school freshman.  And… you get the picture.  Everyone has to start somewhere.  I guess that’s my point.  Don’t jump all over folks who are just starting on the (right) path.  Slacktivism might seem utterly worthless to people who are volunteering and marching and speaking out and donating time and money.  But everyone needs to start somewhere.  And who knows where that tiny gesture might lead? Encouragement goes a hell of a lot farther than criticizing in my book.  Thanks for reading and helping me work through this.

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About halitentwo

i am. god is. we are. as soon as i write something about me i change, am different, evolving. i am trans. i am a parent. i am a partner. i am a human. i am attempting to live a well-lived life in the spaces in between, beyond definition, fluid, dynamic, omnifarious and always changing. hopefully growing.
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3 Responses to whipping boi

  1. Jamie Ray says:

    Hali,
    I’ve been in two different political groups that imploded because one of the people of color accused the group of being racist, and then a lot of white people walked out in support…and then if you stayed it implied that you were really racist. There was no option to try to stay and listen and work it out.
    I’m concerned that it will happen again in the Trump Resistance group that we are trying to put together. It is diverse, but disproportionately white gay men, which will eventually be problematic. There has already been some consciousness raising about intersectionality when the three white men who set the agenda separated out immigration issues, islamophobia, and racism – as if they aren’t all part of the same white supremacist mindset. The men eventually stopped being defensive and listened.
    I was thinking about you when I read this article in my Facebook feed: http://forward.com/scribe/355864/anti-semitism-in-america-is-nothing-new-dont-deny-jewish-history-and-cultur/
    about anti-semitism and white skin privilege, and how to deal with this with people who don’t believe that anti-semitism is still prevalent without pretending that I don’t have privilege (particularly class and education).

  2. Pingback: do gooder | kaleidoscope life

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