“You are such a rebel!”
“Why can’t you just jump through the hoops?”
“Why do you always have to create waves?”
“You are such a sh$# disturber!”
To each of these observations by loved ones and peers I have had to accept that they were true reflections of who I am. Who I have always been. I suppose I can’t really help myself. I’ve never wanted to be anything else. I enjoy stirring things up. I enjoy helping others to be uncomfortable; to live outside of that proverbial comfort zone. But, this past week I got a taste of my own medicine.
On the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday I purposely chose to attend the Black Lives Matter March in Sacramento. I decided late Friday night and felt a bit uncomfortable with my decision. I instinctively knew that my dis-ease revolved around media reports from previous BLM events: the counter protests, the violence and the anger on both sides. I even dreamed about it that night, knowing full well that any potential negative was in the back of my mind. Even as I parked and headed toward the march’s meeting spot, I wondered what the day would hold for me.
Upon reaching the Safeway parking lot, I heard that the march was not permitted and that there would be no police escorts. That said, I understood that failure to secure a permit is its own protest about having to “get permission” to exercise the First Amendment Right to peacefully protest. And from the very agencies that are viewed as the root of racism and bigotry against people of color. Anyway, I felt comfortable that the march was well organized as we headed down Capitol Avenue on our way to the steps of the state Capitol. Imagine my surprise when we began the march north on Alhambra and then west on J Street…a one way street! And we were going to march against traffic. My anxiety was up and I was a bit wary about what I had gotten myself into. Once we started I got my mojo and fully embraced the march, the rationale and the actions that were taken. I allowed myself to trust the organizers, trust the participants and trust the process. In other words, to trust what Black people, specifically what Black women can do!
I tell this story only to highlight the inherent prejudice that someone, as liberal as me, can harbor inside, and not even recognize it.
A friend, Maureen Wanket, addressed such ingrained prejudice in a post.(http://maureenolearyauthor.com/2017/09/07/to-my-white-sisters-so-the-tina-fey-thing/ ) And as I re-read her post and aligned it with my thinking before the BLM march, I recognized just how little any non-Black person actually gets it. How a brown/biracial/feminist/pro LGBTQ man can still harbor insecurities about Black people. What I actually recognized was that I have my own personal work to do.
I suppose that I can feel some satisfaction in knowing that recognizing my faults is the first step in addressing and changing them. Now comes the tough part: fixing them.