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— Taylor Monroe / IG @tayleurmonroe

I am one of you. I am a white cisgender woman. I am a white cisgender woman with a mental illness. I am a white cisgender woman with a mental illness who writes and creates art to get by. I have struggled finding my voice as well as being proud of that voice. I’ve criticized myself for not being different enough – for not being smart enough. This imposter syndrome manifests itself when I’m trying to create. It is a voice multiplied in hundreds of sinister, malicious snarls.

I didn’t know how to write my letter about the #blacklivesmatter movement. At first, I thought about saying, “Check your privilege! Donate! Protest! Discuss racism within your family!” Focus on the action of uplifting and amplifying myelinated voices. I thought about saying, “Read black literature; listen to black artists; do everything to support black creators and businesses.”

But then I watched a video by author and poet Sonya Taylor. My sister had sent it to me because the content was about talking about black people with your white family members. The title is pretty self-explanatory: “Why Talking to Your White Family About Black People Is Wrong.”

Taylor calls out white people for their participation in systematic racism. She gives an example of a white girl named Haley debating with her racist parents about how black lives are worthy of living.
“That is your privilege speaking,” Taylor says. “You’re sitting around the table, talking about how my life is worthy? The conversations should not be about why black people live in a ghetto; it should be about why white people made a ghetto in the first place.”

Back when I was studying Latin American politics, I had to take a survey course on Latin American history. We watched a documentary called “Guns, Germs, and Steel” which was based on the book by Jared Diamond. To summarize the film/book, Western civilization succeeded because of their geographical luck and their abled bodies; they believed that with this combination, they had power and jurisdiction over people who didn’t have that same luck or ability.

I could spew more facts about conquistadors stealing land, spreading germs, and killing innocent people all for the sake of political power. I could tell you that the conquistadors that sailed across the Atlantic Ocean were not kings; they were sons of merchants who did not have any inheritance, any power, and were looking for that in the Americas.

But get-rich-quick schemes always fail. To think that our Western history, our basic political power, is in the belief that either we inherit greatness or we steal it is essentially what it means to be white. “Check your privilege” is not just a rallying cry from black

voices; it’s also an overall demand. It is synonymous with “Police yourself, dammit, because we’re sick of your entitlement.”

“Police yourself.” Be aware of your white skin, your white relatives, your white friends, because black people always have to. Be aware that your white skin signifies your resources, your wealth, that are provided simply because of the political significance of being white. I don’t care if you are on welfare or make over $100k a year. People perceive your whiteness and assess for themselves whether you are a friend or foe with that first impression.
I stand with the #blacklivesmatter movement not because of my white guilt. I stand with black voices because I know the pain of silence. As a woman with a mental illness, when my depression hits, there is no language equivalent to grief. I feel robbed of love and joy. Someone turns up the volume of the voices inside my head, telling me, no, you’re not good enough. No, you’re not even worth a penny. Can I imagine being silenced simply because of my skin color by the world – no. And I never will. But if you have any idea of how silence impacts a person, whether it is psychological or societal, then you would know why black lives matter. Why right now, black voices need to be heard more than your white entitlement. (Of course, this unravels my argument as a white woman and reinforces my anger on the spiritual level.)
My call to action is to shut up about your guilt, your allyship, and talk more about why you think you deserve what you have. Why you think the world permits you and not a black woman or man to have what you have. It will be uncomfortable because, in the end, you will see that power will always dictate our lives. It is then about reassigning and diversifying that power. It is about inclusivity, not exclusivity. Not radical ideologies that tout extreme measures to keep the white man in power (we’re looking at every authority figure, past and present).

Democratization scares people. If we give more power to minorities, what happens to the white dominant class? Do we then become the “minority” because we become the inferior ones, the oppressed ones? My answer is hell no. White people will never know anything about true oppression. History has always favored us; we were not slaves. We were not driven from our land. Just because racial and gender equality are forcing us to assess our haves and have-nots does not mean that we are now the inferior class. It just means that our actions will be held to a different standard. Everything we do will now have the obstacle of never being truly enough.

So, my question to you white people, myself included, is – can you be okay with that? Can you, for just once, let others get what they want? Can you put forth more equity rather than hateful ignorance? Or must you always have everything?

From the desk of an angry white woman

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