i’m no stranger to feeling heavy for specific individuals, or even the world at large. it’s been happening for years. as recently as late winter of this past year i struggled immensely with what to do with awareness of poverty in the world, specifically in light of how much we have here in america (most of us, even lower class people have a home, car, food, water, clothes, etc). my feelings of sadness for those who are without were always gnawing at me, keeping me restless and agitated. it was rare when i could put those thoughts aside and just enjoy the present moment or be thankful for what i have. i couldn’t help but feel irreverent- smiling while others elsewhere are struggling, thirsting, starving- how is that okay? how can i? that isn’t fair. in late winter, though, i found a way to make peace with much of my restlessness upon realizing that, based on my tax bracket, i am among those who have our hands tied with barely making ends meet. this was a huge relief to me. i think i previously used to feel that as someone who was afforded some basics i was solely responsible for the plight of anyone who had less than me, and while i continue to advocate an economic structure that is beneficial for all people (and not just the whitest or richest or male-est), i have come to let myself off the hook in many ways. it has been healthy for me. i am no longer crippled by existential guilt per being someone who has a bed to sleep in. my guilt wasn’t helping anybody anyways; letting go of it has afforded me the freedom to explore ways in which i can be a voice for equality while learning to live my life as an emotionally healthy+compassionate person. this has been good.
but as the events in ferguson, missouri have unfolded i have been faced with a new burden clawing at my heart- racism. i hesitate to say “new” because it’s not like i’ve never known about racism- of course i’ve known. i’ve known it is absurdly still a thing in our country, i’ve even heard a handful of racist remarks come out of family members’ mouths. it is close. it is ugly. it is anything but new. but in a way, it is new to me in the sense that i have never before let myself fully feel the tragic weight of it all until a week ago. what happened to mike brown has caused me to feel it now, and i am stricken with sorrow, disgust, outrage… and shame for being counted among white people, since it is chiefly white people in america who perpetuate racism. i’ve been a restless mess all week on account of this. as opposed to the issue of poverty, the injustice of racism is a matter in which i cannot count myself among the oppressed. there is simply no way to relieve myself of a sense of responsibility. as someone who has white privilege i don’t know how not to feel guilty about the easier life i’ve been handed. i don’t have to fear. i don’t have to worry about picking up toy guns. i am never, to my knowledge, viewed as suspicious or threatening based merely on my unchangeable complexion. it is not fair and i don’t know how not to feel angry and sad about it. so i’m working through this, but i feel that i have very far to go before i find any semblance of peace.
i’m definitely open to your thoughts if you think sharing them would be helpful. can any of you relate? if so, i need need need to hear about it.
thank you for continuing to read along, you guys.