I’ve always cared about freedom, equality, and decency for everyone around me. Sure, I’m a rich white man who doesn’t even have to really work to get along, and I can see why women and people of color are bothered by my very existence. I can almost, if not quite, understand why my voice is nothing more than an annoyance to them. I wish it wasn’t, because otherwise I’d make it rain dollar bills all over the ghettos and subsidize women’s shelters left and right. But I’m not going to, because I’m being oppressed.
The effect of the rhetoric of feminists and people of color on a white male is just terrible. To share the experience that this rhetoric generates in a white man, well, that’s called “derailment,” so shoot me, I’m a derailer right now. To critically participate in a conversation with oppressed groups is to “make it about me” or worse, it is “abusive.”
I’ve been told I must “decenter,” and let go of all the complex emotions that these conversations create in me — after all, putting a voice to them would only be to unleash internalized authoritarian tendencies under the guise of “rationalism” or “critique.” The point of these narratives, I think, has been for me to quietly absorb in an unreflective and silent stupor. Even an innocent question can trigger traumatic memories of oppression, and god forbid I add to the cumbersome load of oppression I in fact intend on understanding and fighting. In effect, I have been systematically silenced.
Although I’ve always intended on helping the oppressed with my fortune, now I know they don’t even want my help. I was falsely led to believe by Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech that bringing people together was the kind of utopia we all wanted to work towards. It turns out Dr. King had internalized the white man’s utopia.
No matter how many times I’ve told people of color to forgive me for my internalized authoritarian tendencies, they just haven’t listened. White people don’t know what they’re saying and how bad it sounds, and surely if they understood they’d not say such things. I’ve been just terribly shocked at the way things I’ve said have been interpreted, and it seems the kind of forgiveness and trust that I’ve extended will never be reciprocated.
Now that I know the horrible pain of oppression and exclusion from a group of people I want to interact with, I understand people of color and women perfectly. I don’t want to give my oppressors any money or even listen to a single word they say. Just to hear them reflect on the story of oppression I have just told opens up deep wounds in my psyche and possibly even racial memories from when my Celtic ancestors were repeatedly oppressed by Romans, Anglo-Saxons, and Vikings. One word from women and people of color and it’s like it’s happening all over again.