Then I look back and see all the signs that I somehow chose to miss. And this choice seems to be just as complicated in the case of the white supremacist patriarchal system as it is in an abusive relationship. I am being manipulated and yet there is also a level of allowing myself to be manipulated. A willful looking away. An attachment to the lie that is stronger than the tiny voice saying that things are otherwise. So in my head now is the voice over and over “how could I not have seen?!” And my mind lists all the red flags – for example, Ferguson, The New Jim Crow was published in 2010. Heck, I went to workshops and even wrote about them! Somehow the lull of the lie was too strong for me to stay awake. “How could I have let that happen?!”
Partly because that’s how the system is set up. It is set up in ways that make it all to easy to not see, to ignore. We’re segregated so we don’t find out what’s happening unless it’s in the news and the news drops it fast. Unless those of us with privilege make a conscious effort to know, we don’t know just how abusive this system is – and how much it is hurting everybody! Those with less privilege experience the abuse every day.
How can I stay awake? The most important thing is for me to stay involved. Just like I asserted my agency to protect myself from the abuser by going no contact, I can chose to set up my life to stay woke. No, I have a responsibility to do that. Enabling this system through my collaboration clashes with my values. Seeing how easy it is to go back to sleep, to hide behind my privilege, it is my responsibility to ensure this does not happen. Fortunately, there is lots of help for that: From organizations, from other people who have been doing this far longer, from books, from podcasts (the links are just a tiny sample). Most importantly, I need to keep practicing showing up. Speaking out. And listening to those who keep telling me about the abuses of the system.