I’m still thinking about that man on the street, and the feeling of uneasiness that erupted in my chest without notice. My fight or flight response with the needle throwing itself into flight. Here is a man standing in a yard looking and not looking at me in broad daylight. Why am I afraid?
Here I am as a white woman walking through the neighborhood, knowing I can walk through without being questioned or threatened. No one will wonder at this white woman in this pretty dress with this expensive bag, “Does she belong here?”; “Is she up to no good?”; “What right does she have?” ; no one will chase me out, chase me off, lock their doors at my passing, at my presence, at my being. No one will gather their children or clutch at their dog and scurry away.
If anyone does harass me, it will be because they want me to feel affirmed in my attractiveness and fuckableness. Thank you.
I think of all the privilege I carry into spaces. My worst fear most often being that I will be disliked–when there are so many other fears I never have to consider, never have to confront. So many things I don’t carry on my shoulders, day in and day out.
- What does it mean to be white in this world?
We drive to Door County and I am cognizant of keeping my camera phone tucked away. There are bright, breathless moments, but I keep my camera phone away. Trying not to participate in this culture of consuming, viewing, geotagging. Trying to keep the pristine places pristine and the views to myself. What does it mean to always have a community in wait? In wait of the picturesque scenes I may or may not share. In wait of the world to narrate and consume it?
2. Why do we pretend to exist? Why do we want to pretend at existence?
Is our life only worthy if we are photogenic and brightly colored? Or, are the things worth sharing, only worthy if they are photogenic and brightly colored?
What is my experience if it’s not on Instagram, if it’s not liked by dozens, if it’s not part of the larger story we tell ourselves that the world, the places, are worth being seen? What story are we trying to tell about ourselves when we tell the world of all the things, the places, the sights we’ve seen?
What if I keep all of this to myself and no one ever knows? What if my life is not about creating pieces for others to live through? What if my life is not about creating an image for others to believe in? What if my life is not about buying and doing; what if my life is about the thoughts in my head? What if my life is about asking all the questions with no intent of finding an answer? What if I believe my life is not about constantly celebrating, or coming up with constant proof that my life is worth living? What if my life is not about reaching my full potential? What if it is just this?
3. What if my life is hardly worth living at all, in the mundane sense that so many lives are hardly worth living, because so many lives that are being lived are not worth it?
It being the recognition you think you deserve for living a very regular life. Or, for being unable to recognize that your life is unordinary. That your life is irregular. That regular is subjective. Normal is only what you can see from your bedroom window.
And if your life is only ordinary in the sense that it matches all the lives being lived outside of your bedroom window, is it worth recognizing? Do you deserve to feel special for living a life like all the people outside of your bedroom window?
Even if all the people are faking it, even if everyone is striving for the same sense of feeling special?
You don’t know what you’re doing–you don’t know what’s important–is it my role to care? Is it my role to help you realize your ignorance? Is it my role to challenge you to be better? Why should I give you the mental space you haven’t bothered to give yourself?
I’m still talking about privilege.