Nothing dries up my well of goodwill like a dishonest conversation about inequity. Like having to sit here while you proclaim that you are not racist, don’t see color, have gay friends, love women, taught someone with autism. Let’s retire the notion that racism happens only when you throw a burrito at George Lopez. Let’s be rid of the idea that homophobia ends once you are distantly okay with gay marriage. Let’s retire the notion that misogyny comes only in the form of your unwanted hand up my skirt. Let’s be rid of the idea that able-ism disappeared with the IEP.
If you aren’t able to say, “I live in a society constructed around inequities, and my default mode is to participate in those inequities”, then you aren’t being aware, and therefore the truth didn’t get airtime.
So let me start: I, by default – as much as I’m loathe to admit – am likely racist, homophobic, misogynistic and able-ist (among other things). And yes, I am likely these things even as someone who stands to lose from perpetuating such constructs. It takes a great deal of determination – at times I falter – to unshackle myself from this ugly default. I do not arrive at enlightenment simply by being a ‘good person’. And there is (spoilers ahead) no ultimate arrival at enlightenment.
Because these -isms are default, it is far easier for me to perpetuate them than it is for me to protest them. The only opportunities I have to break free involve pain. Direct pain – where I feel an injustice bearing down upon me, that angers me into action. And indirect pain – when I am embarrassed and inconvenienced by someone else’s lived, and vocalized, experience. The latter is hard. The latter is where I falter most – where some days, aversion to discomfort overrides my ability to acknowledge a truth and to right a wrong.
I hope my reflection inconveniences you. I hope it was immensely hard to read. Now go forth. Get to know the man in the mirror. And don’t excuse yourself from the context. No one is merely a spectator to inequity. We are all supporting actors. If you’re not changing the script, you’re probably reciting one.