Since I broke up with the Spiritual World in November last year, I have been led into the journey of unpacking my whiteness. The reasons for the break up were the lack of depth in the creation of this box of women, the cookie cutter models of how to be successful that made me sick and the way we white women like to appear perfect all of the time to ensure we are never seen as weak. Where was our mess, our fears, our anger, the truth of our messy, crazy, wild, painful lives? I was more than ready for another deep dive into myself and it came in the form of what it was to be white.
It started slowly, as I watched some amazing women I admire start to speak from their hearts about what White Privilege and Supremacy do to them on a daily basis. I watched as white woman after white woman turned on them, saying ‘we don’t see colour’, ‘you are being divisive.’ And I watched as they were harmed and hurt, I felt them, I wanted to know what to do as a white woman to honestly and finally be able to stop this. So I began reading and listening to them.
** Please note for PoC reading this :: I am very honest in my journey and some of the things I cover may be insensitive and harmful to you. I apologise for this and warn you now so you can choose whether to keep reading. I have weighed up the decision not to publish this, but I believe deeply that it is a conversation more white people need to have with each other to bring this to the front of our conversations. **
I was threatened.
I want to say that again. I was threatened. I say this from my heart because I truly want other white women to understand that their fear around this is normal and its okay. What is not okay is questioning WoC on it. Ever.
I couldn’t admit at first that there was one hint of white supremacy in me. I HAD been raised in a house of inclusion, some of my best friends growing up had been WoC, and I adore these women still today. So how could I possibly be a white supremacist? I could feel my white fragility, even though I didn’t have a name for that yet, and so I decided this was a path I was dedicated to taking, but I knew I had to go easy on myself to truly unpack.
It turned out that there is no easy way to unpack this, or do the work. When we go gently we end up with excuses and justifications and to be really clear, no-one is benefitting from that. Not even us white people. You know why? We are missing the magic that PoC bring to the world. Magic we cannot replicate, and believe me, we have tried – a lot of which is now called cultural appropriation.
So I started by reading as much as I could and trying to make myself triggered. Yes, I went out there and triggered myself into being threatened by what WoC were saying. Because then I could get to the root of my thoughts and use this to unpack what I really thought. To go deeper and deeper and deeper. Under layer after layer after layer. And what I found was that my heart was not a racist (KKK style) heart. But some of my actions, assumptions and life choices have been rooted in white privilege and supremacy.
Something I heard on Wild Mystic Woman’s podcast with Desiree Adaway early this year blew me away: “When we look at how systems and institutions have been created, they have been created, its all about power and a power imbalance. Whiteness was created, literally, the concept, the core of whiteness, it was created to justify slavery. To justify blackness. So whiteness was created around power and exploitation.” WHAT? My evidence based brain needed more, and Desiree went on to discuss where she had learned of this, which was in the Seeing White series. I went on to listen to this. Now I was angry. I could see where I had been led to believe, without even realising it, that I was some kind of different from PoC by the institutions and systems we have in place, and I am NOT okay with that.
Shortly after this, while I was travelling, Wild Mystic Woman (Layla Saad) experienced personal racism with her daughter and was removed from social media (instagram and Facebook) for posting about her experience. She was abused by white women for speaking out and neither channel did anything about it, in fact they literally said that Layla had broken guidelines by speaking out against white supremacy, but the white women who abused her had not broken guidelines at all. This is NOT okay and this has to stop. That is honestly when I knew it was time for white women who had done this work to start speaking out amongst ourselves and start spreading the word. Because we can do better, we HAVE to do better.
The other big lightbulb moment was when I realised that it’s not about me. Seriously, its not. I’m not a WoC. I’m white. Not everything has to be about me. WoC get to have their own shit, and you know, sometimes I vent about men, and how they mansplain to me. PoC get to have that too. I don’t need to fix it. I need to support them to be allowed to speak what they need to speak. Thats it. I am a support, not an advocate. It is deeply offensive to imply to any group that their voice is not strong enough, loud enough, vital enough for them to speak themselves, and that for whatever reason they need a white woman to speak for them. They don’t. It’s also not a competition of oppressions. So stop making it about that. As a woman, yes, we have been oppressed, and you may have been oppressed because you were in a low socioeconomic household growing up as well. But its not a competition. Everyone has their story, its time to hear them all out.
What I am sitting with at the moment is how I can keep learning, which is always through listening, showing up and calling out what I do see, and acknowledging that there is still stuff I don’t see because I am not there yet. I have learnt that my white skin doesn’t make me horrible, I do not need to be ashamed of myself, but I do get to try harder and do better in this skin to right the wrongs we have created. As I am Australian, I am currently exploring where Indigenous Australian’s sit on this matter, as they see themselves as different from some other PoC and their voice is important too. I am learning more and more about what it means to them to be Indigenous. Even though none of this is about me, I want to learn and hear from them too. I want to make space for them to tell their stories and be heard.
White women who are reading this, please step up now. The Dalai Lama said it would be Western Women who change the world, and didn’t we all love that. But what if he meant it would be because we acknowledged our privilege and dismantled it? What if it was by choosing to do all we could to remove and destroy the systems that give us so much power already, so that we give voice to and watch our sisters of colour rise and rise with us? How magical would that be?
So I invite you to also start to unpack this fear we have around being told we are racist. Go and listen to Layla Saad’s podcast series. She opens courageous conversations everywhere and her words, her depth and her magic is incredible. Please do yourself a favour and listen. And when your indignation and white fragility comes up, sit with it. Invite it for tea, let it inform you of what you truly believe in and what you are afraid of. This work is for the brave and for the woman who wants to honestly change the world. Until we are truly ready to look at the monsters inside us, we cannot have a hope in hell of meeting face to face the monsters that are without.