So last week was terrible.
I kept wanting to write about the Ferguson shit, but I couldn’t find any words because I was so sad about the Robin Williams shit.
Things I found myself arguing about on Facebook:
~Whether suicide is selfish or cowardly.
~Whether Robin Williams “just didn’t try hard enough” to overcome depression.
~Whether white privilege exists or not.
And the thing is that I don’t really understand why any of these are arguments at all. Because people who struggle with depression have SAID WITH THEIR MOUTHS that you can’t just decide to be happy and then *poof* the depression goes away. So why are you still arguing about who tried harder? (Watch out, I feel some bad words coming on.) And, do you know how hard it must be to get to a place where you suddenly decide to not live anymore? Millions of years of evolution and your entire biology will do absolutely anything – including cutting off your own arm in certain cases – just to not die. So how can people still say it’s a selfish or cowardly thing knowing what desperation must have been present? (No, really, here comes the cussing.) And the white privilege thing is really pretty fucking clear. (THERE IT IS.) Even before we knew that Michael Brown had, in actual fact, been shot no less than six times from a distance, there was Eric Garner and two others.
Super embarrassing to admit: When I was an ignorant teenager being raised by a woman who later in her life would subscribe to multiple Bill O’Riley email lists I didn’t get the need for Affirmative Action. After all, my education taught me that Rosa Parks and Dr. King fixed the racism problem and now we all lived in a happy world where we could totally share the drinking fountains. (I had similar ignorant ideas about feminism. I KNOW.) But, honestly, how the hell would I ever have known that racism was still alive and well? I never had to live it.
So here is the big secret about how I learned about white privilege and feminism and depression:
I FUCKING LISTENED TO PEOPLE WHEN THEY TALKED.
It turns out – and this may shock you – people tend to share their feelings and thoughts and experiences. Sometimes they do this when asked, and sometimes they choose to start the conversation. But you have, to paraphrase Mark Twain, twice as many ears as you do mouths. SO FUCKING USE THEM OKAY.
There is no fucking way this earth is ever going to get better, there is no fucking way humans will ever stop being terrible unless we have fucking compassion. You already have everything you can possibly need to make the world better, you have the ability to fucking change shit, and all you have to do is fucking LISTEN TO PEOPLE WHEN THEY TELL YOU THINGS.
If someone you know says you are struggling with depression, you DON’T say, “Well, try harder!” Or “Have you tried being happy instead?” That shit shuts down the conversation and alienates people which, as it turns out, doesn’t really help depression. Weird, right? Instead try something like, “How can I help you?” And “I love you so much and you mean so much to me.”
This listening trick can work in literally every aspect of your life. Know someone who’s overweight? Listen to their feelings and experiences and help to end fat phobia! Know someone who’s trans? Listen to their feelings and experiences and help to end trans phobia! Know someone who’s a different religion than you are? Listen to their thoughts and experiences and help to bridge the massive gaps we have in religious and culture differences. Just shut up and listen! It’s amazing! It’s free! It’s revolutionary!
The word compassion just keeps coming up for me this week. Everything has been about people lacking compassion for other people. Compassion. Compassion. Compassion. Fucking focus on that shit right now okay? It will fix everything. Not right away, of course, because there are a shitload of other steps that need to be taken first, but fucking COMPASSION IS THE FIRST FUCKING STEP AND IT IS VITAL TO FUCKING EVERY SITUATION EVER.
Here are some good articles about the Ferguson shit and white privilege. Fucking listen, okay?
Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person.
Explaining white privilege with funny memes so you don’t have to word too much.
America is not for Black People (I kept being very confused about how people would show pictures of tanks in America with the caption that “this is not America” because, actually, it IS America. I mean. Very clearly it is. You mean that you don’t want it to be – which is also kinda shitty because what that’s really saying is “keep your mega violence in the Middle East so we can pretend MURRICA is totally radical, okay?”)
Things to Stop Being Distracted By When A Black Person Gets Murdered by Police (I was somewhat heartened when I saw these things being discussed more and more as the week went on. Some of you are listening. Go, you!)
Some people have suggested that we stop calling it “white privilege” because, I assume, it scares white people and makes them think they have to feel guilty for being born white. I mean. Whatever. I guess. I don’t really care if you call it something else, but I do think that white people should STFU, stop being whiny babies, and just take a moment to (say it with me!) LISTEN and understand what the phrase actually means. It’s really got nothing to do with YOU and everything to do with the SYSTEM. Which even our history books do not deny was built by white people. Here’s an article that puts it much more politely.
Stuff you can do to help:
Ten Things White People Can Do About Ferguson Besides Tweet
In addition to the link just above, if you need to actively do something, here’s a Tumblr post with some ideas.
AND THIS. This is a petition to the White House (which they have to look at since it’s reached the needed number of signatures) to have cameras worn by all law enforcement.
And listen. Just fucking listen. Have compassion and just fucking listen.
You are awesome and I love you and this post is FUCKING PERFECT.
Compassion is a great start! Thanks for the post and all the useful links!