A gchat conversation earlier today with my mom. »
me: just wanted to tell you about Ferguson Maybe you heard some stuff Cathy: Who is ? Tell me. Going home now me: Ferguson in Missouri There was a young unarmed boy killed by a white cop shot many times in August and yesterday was the announcement of the indictment (if the police officer that shot the boy would get a trial or not) Cathy: I've heard about it today. What a sad story me: what did you hear? Cathy: Tomek [my baby bro] just told me me: What did he tell you? Cathy: I'm too tired to discuss it me: Ok, im just really curious
If it is safe to do so, please talk to your parents, cousins, family members about # — Be gentle with them. Be patient. Don’t talk at them. Listen to what they have to say, what language they use, and if their rhetoric is one repeated from mainstream news sources. Knowing that, you can meet them there and then try to unravel all the assumptions alongside them. They may not be as invested as you, and that’s ok. Not everyone fights the same battles. Not everyone fights them the same way. We can’t simply exist in an echo chamber. We can go to protests, be bodies in the street, be bodies on Twitter, talk to our students, talk to our co-workers, talk to each other, but we also need to engage with those that don’t do those things, that don’t have access to those things, and don’t know they too can do those things. My parents are too tired and too overworked trying to stay alive with the accrued financial and emotional debt of the immigrant experience to make sense of the spectacle of current events. But they are also people that vote, that have friends, that know people who work in all areas of life including local newspapers, and it is in those transmissions that the metaphors of ideology and white supremacy spread. It doesn’t go away if we turn away.
I write this thinking of them. I write this because I have the privilege of being privy to the stories of those acutely affected. I have the social and cultural capital and the energy to parse the news.But that doesn’t mean I’m smarter, or know better, or that I should dismiss those that don’t think like me. I have the awareness not to caught up in my own frustration, rage and despair of the situation, because I am an ally. These are some of my obligations as a white woman who is implicated in this system. It is my responsibility to be sensitive, in all the ways, and recognize that these sensitivities are imbricated in the ways, I too, perpetuate the system I am actively fighting to dismantle. This statement isn’t an excuse to evade responsibility, but as a recognition to continue to face my subject position and do the solidarity work of an ally. When I speak, it is from that place, and I speak to my parents from that place, from that situated knowledge, which only provides me with a partial perspective. I speak also knowing I have the choice to pull out when it’s not safe. Not everyone has that choice. I don’t always have that choice.