For E&M, Robin White writes about how she is staying hopeful in a world like this – and her answers are ones of advice, smashing the patriarchy, and poignant observations about the societies we continuously choose to live in because we don’t dare to leave our comfort zones.
Recently, I was asked by a friend ‘how do you manage to stay hopeful in a world like this?’
The reality of it is that I don’t feel as if I have another choice. Hope is crucial. Especially as a Black woman, giving up (hope) is not an option, when you not only face racial injustice but also sexism on a daily basis. Most white, privileged people in my immediate surroundings haven’t really thought about the experiences that I’ve made in my life so far, especially my male friends. I can tell by the look on their faces and their loss of words when trying to recap whatever story I just told and their struggle to grasp it. Sometimes, their naivety is as delighting as it is disheartening though. One of my ex-boyfriends literally used to say ‘This does not exist in my world’ whenever he was faced with a fact / experience he couldn’t handle. At the time, as a teenager, I just laughed it off whenever he behaved this way. Today, I think back to these moments a lot.
The society we live in is only designed to preserve its own old structures that work as a farm for privilege, advantages and wealth, with exploitation and systemic injustice, racism and sexism being the most potent fertilizers.
People who struggle to acknowledge the harshness and cruelty of our world are so afraid, they choose to exist in a bubble within it. A bubble that not only shields and protects them from all the dangers and despicable horrors we as humans can live through, but one that, in my opinion, also shields them from making deep connections and experiencing a true sense of worth and belonging – beyond peer groups, carrier achievements, status and the whole capitalistic, oppressive framework. The narrative of white male supremacy, which perpetuates our patriarchal mapped society, can only thrive in a world that is survival-based and driven by fear. It cannot survive in a world that is based on reaffirming the experience of courage, love and true connection. Another important aspect to this narrative is that male energy/force is preservational, whereas female energy/force is creational. The society we live in is only designed to preserve its own old structures that work as a farm for privilege, advantages and wealth, with exploitation and systemic injustice, racism and sexism being the most potent fertilizers.
It is time for this system to crumble. It is time for something new to grow from it. It is time for female forces to create an environment in which we can restore equality for all. ‘How does that look like?’ some may ask. Well, first of all, be aware that if you are a white, privileged male, it is your turn to show up and bring initiative to the table. Always and forever. And not only if it’s a trending hashtag and or more attractive writing ‘feminist’ on your bumble profile. Tip: reflect and think back at the discussions with womxn you might have had during #MeToo and now compare this to your newly found activism with #BLM. Did/do you bring the same energy to the table when it comes down to womxns rights? If not, why so? Take time to dig deep enough to reflect upon and decipher this deficiency.
It is time for female forces to create an environment in which we can achieve equality for all.
Besides education, (which, at this point, should be the most basic requirement, so we should stop passing out ribbons for it) one of the main things to do is listen to the womxn in your life, especially the ones of colour. listen closely to their experiences and their traumas. Open not only your ears but also your hearts – believe them. Expand your minds and observe. Observe your own behaviour and that of your environment. Recognise and acknowledge that the society we live in is not designed to hold space for us and our stories. And that it is your responsibility to do so. It is your responsibility to reach out and connect beyond race, gender, sexual orientation, age and national borders. It is your responsibility to stop confusing your mere existence and complying with an oppressive system with truly experiencing life, the good, the bad and the ugly that comes with it. And yes, that sh*t is scary as hell, but the antidote is called compassion, a skill that is in desperate need of further development. But, to be fair, this needs to happen across the board and there needs to be a broad understanding of it for each and every one of us.
It is your responsibility to reach out and connect beyond race, gender, sexual orientation, age and national borders.
My appeal to every single person reading this is to be braver, dig deeper, love harder and connect to yourself and others so profoundly that you have no other choice than to stand up against this oppressive system, even if that means losing your privilege, your innocence – and to be popping your bubbles.
If you were to ask me again ‘how do you manage to stay hopeful in a world like this?’ I would probably answer that I’m not hopeful in spite of being a black woman, but BECAUSE I am a black woman. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Cover Photo: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash