The people were restless. They wanted out. They started seeing each other, brunch opened for a day or two. Then, the revolution came in like a tidal wave and knocked their small espresso cups clear off their tiny sauce plates. Their gaping mouths didn’t know what to say, but they were told that silence is violence, so they started repeating what they heard.
Black Lives Matter. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. No Justice. No peace. Defund the police.
They started to learn. Not just in terms like “red lining” and “systematic white supremacy”, but how they were holding them between two pieces of buttered toast and eating it for breakfast every morning with eggs over easy and some extra crispy bacon. Then they started learning more. How the police were put in place as slave patrol. How they are lucky that black people want equality and not revenge. How the police have always disregarded black lives. Tear gas, Big plastic shields protecting tiny blinking eyes in 400$ military suits. Fighting against a crowd of ants and colorful signs. Rubber bullets splitting skulls and ripping skin and causing black eyes. They learned quickly that all cops really are bastards.
On the crest of all this. The whole world is listening, the whole world is waking up. The alarm has been sounding and sounding, but they liked sleep, the bed, under the sheets of privilege… so comfortable. Just snooze. Snooze. Snooze.
When mama came in to yank the covers of the bed in a final attempt to get them to wake up, a wave of nausea overtook the people who had taken a likening to dreaming.
They would have to acknowledge what they already so knew to be true. That they greatly benefited off of the plight of black people. That they were the problem. Not just one president that resembled a pip blown up in the microwave and left out go stale. Not just their exes for creating trauma and trust issues. Not just their parents for fucking them up. The problem with the world, the sickness, the real sickness, the deepest sickness, had always been whiteness. Suddenly the bottomless brunch mimosas and eggs benedict betrayed them, and felt like cement in their weak stomachs.
I remember that feeling. My stomach has been hurting since. Maybe it’s because I haven’t gone brunch since. Maybe it’s because now I rather order a beer instead of a cocktail. Maybe it’s because I’m white and I just need to shut the fuck up and listen for a bit before speaking. Maybe it’s because I have to learn something that I will never really understand.
Probably I will remove this post as soon as I realize that my experience deconstructing white privilege can’t or shouldn’t be compared with systematic, internalized, institutional, structural racism or police violence. But maybe, just maybe, you can be born into privilege and still want to change the world. We could wait until we have been reincarnated into the appropriate socioeconomic class, or we can make the most of the life we have, using it as far as possible to do good and confront harm.
Maybe Dante was right. The inner circle of hell is a place where nothing changes, where life is frozen into immobility, where no one can change their destiny. And it’s easy to stay in there if you were born into privilege but we are all breathing, now, not just some stupid blinded people who think they deserve the world.
I’m watching, ready for listening, trying to learn, and you, whoever you are, should too.