“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once the hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” James Baldwin
On Monday nights I have my ‘White Women Talk Race’ zoom call. There are seven of us, all white, all women. For the last six months we’ve read, journaled and explored our thoughts, beliefs and actions around white supremacy. The work makes me squirm, but then I pat myself on the back for being willing to look in the hard, dark places and sit with my discomfort.
The work continues to open my eyes, and challenges me to explore my unconscious feelings of superiority and being deserving. It’s not been easy, but as a progressive, liberal, lefty and a compassionate, open, empathetic human being, I’m committed to working for a world that works for everyone.
I call bullshit. Something smells a little fishy.
The truth is, I’m only compassionate, open and empathetic if you vote the way I vote.
In fact, I’m actually a hypocrite. (The dictionary: “Hypocrisy is the practice of engaging in the same behavior or activity for which one criticizes another.”)
That’s me. If you don’t vote the way I vote, I get all smug and judgey. I’m right, you’re wrong. I’m smart, you’re an idiot, I’m empathetic, you’re insensitive. I sneer at everything that comes out of your mouth.
How, I ask myself, is my disdain for Republicans any different from another person’s disdain for black people or people of color?
My double standard confuses me. Why do I say yes to opening up to black people and no to people who vote red? Why do I brag about my willingness to explore my own racist tendencies while I socially, emotionally and intellectually distance myself from conservatives? Why do I laugh in solidarity when friends disparage and mock Republicans?
This hateful behavior is eating at me, corroding my soul.
It must change.
Here’s my public commitment–to listen and open myself not just to the history and stories of black people, indigenous people and people of color but to open myself equally to listen to the history and stories of Republicans, conservatives and Trump supporters. I challenge myself to speak up when others speak with contempt, to remain open and curious to differing political views and to be willing to be surprised.
I don’t expect this to be easy. I ask you to hold me to account and to stand with me.