Racism, Special Girlfriends, and why Fierce is my new Favorite Word

This blog has been burning in my brain for months and months and months.  It has been sitting in here since the tragedy in Ferguson when I was forced as a white woman with a whole lot of privilege to challenge my own personal racism. It has been sitting here because every day there is another death, another act of domestic terrorism, another story of racism and insanity. I kept waiting for it to stop. It hasn’t.

It was as if I woke up one morning and slapped my own self in the face. I can try and say I am not racist because I have loved black men, embraced my sisters of color, raised my children to love everybody. But the truth of the matter is pretty damn simple. I live in a “nice” neighborhood with no black people in it. My children go to “better” public schools with mostly Hispanic and Caucasian children in them. For too long I have subscribed to the silent racism. The one where on the outside I rage against the machine but on the inside (I discovered after some serious soul searching) that I am pretty much like all the other white folks in America living blissfully, ignorantly fucked up racist lives.

I am outraged about the confederate flag and I speak out against it’s representation. I forwarded this great blog by John Metta on Facebook and Twitter. I do everything I am “supposed” to be doing as a progressive woman involved in the social justice movement but am I doing enough? No, not really, which is why I am coming out on my blog as a racist white woman who is ready to own my shit.

I was talking to my dear girlfriend Carol and she encouraged me to be as vulnerable and open as possible about my racism. To change the dialogue with my family and friends. To push the envelope of conversation so that we are owning our privilege.

This is Carol! She is FIERCE!

This is Carol! She is FIERCE!

And so I did and this is what happened: I got into a fight with a wealthy Jewish Latino man who passes as white who informed me that, “privilege is a state of mind” and that, “privilege is based on entitlement and whether you assert it and it is possible to relinquish/abdicate that privilege.” This man who sends his children to private school and lives in a fancy house with his fancy life will not own his privilege. And it killed me and made me yell a lot because it people like him can’t see what is so plainly real how will we ever be able to make change in our nation?

And I got angry. Really, really, really angry and could respond with nothing but this:

“You know what? You are totally right. The patriarchy is not real. Discrimination is a figment of everyone’s imagination. We live in a country of full and equal opportunity for all of its citizens. Poverty is an illusion. All this senseless killing has nothing to do with color and is just isolated random acts of violence in an otherwise perfectly peaceful Union of fifty nifty states. There is no prejudice. There is no privilege. Everything is as it should be. I am going to continue living in my perfect house in my perfect neighborhood in my perfect city in my perfect state in my perfect nation and just be happy with what I have because since everything is perfect there is nothing to work for anymore. And while I am at it fuck my perfect PhD in my perfect fancy fucking school where nothing sexist or queerphobic has ever happened to me because privilege is just a figment of my fucking imagination. You are totally right. I am just going to do a full 180 and be the woman I am supposed to be. With my perfect husband and my perfect children and my perfect laundry pile and my perfectly pedicured barefoot feet. Because, you nailed it on the head. Nothing bad ever happens in America and privilege isn’t real. Good day.”

I cannot abide the ignorance anymore. I cannot sit idly by and remain silent. We live in a racist nation that is at the tipping point. We must engage in FIERCE ACCOUNTABILITY for our actions. We must FIERCELY, RELENTLESSLY speak against the system that has given us this power. We must be FIERCE in our intention to no longer protect other white peoples feelings about racism.

Get the conversation going. Now.



About Melissa Bird

Melissa Bird is a passionate feminist who has turned her education in social work into a career advocating for children, women and their families. She is a fierce believer in preparing women for leadership roles in politics and has a wealth of experience working with policy makers, community leaders, and other stakeholders to improve access to reproductive health care for women, men and teens. In 2006, Melissa became the Vice President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Utah where she quickly took a struggling political organization from mediocre to powerhouse in just a few years. Melissa has written and passed into law six pieces of legislation that aim to help disadvantaged homeless youth find shelter and women and their families obtain unfettered access to reproductive health care. A spirited public speaker, Melissa derives great joy from speaking to groups of all sizes about social justice advocacy, reproductive health, women’s empowerment, and fundraising. Melissa has presented workshops at many conferences throughout the country such as: Planned Parenthood Federation of America-State Public Affairs Network: New Public Affairs Staff Orientation—Washington D.C. Planned Parenthood Federation of America-Innovations & Generations Conference—Seattle, Washington Troubled Youth Conference—Snowbird, Utah Child Welfare League of America National Conference—Washington D.C. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center of Mental Health Services Conference-Collaborative Approaches to Successful Transition for Children, Youth, and Families within System of Care—Dallas, Texas Melissa has played many roles throughout her life including preschool teacher, professional lobbyist, university professor, non-profit executive, wife and mother. Throughout her life and her career, Melissa has always held a deep conviction that she is here to empower others in order to improve the lives of women and children throughout the world.
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2 Responses to Racism, Special Girlfriends, and why Fierce is my new Favorite Word

  1. oosorio456 says:

    Inequality is becoming increasingly popular in Western Hemisphere

  2. Pingback: Racism (Missy) | Walk In My Shoes

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