State of the Flawless Union

Flawless folk,

There’s not a lot of things we know right now.

Here’s one thing we do know: shit is fucked.

Let’s just sit in that first.

I’m not interested in providing platitudes to make me or you feel better. This is not a time to feel good. This is not the time to show off our “ally” cards or provide long lists of all the things we have done in the past to support immigrants and LGBTQIA folks and Muslims and women. This is a time of reckoning. We have to decide what kind of people we are going to be now.

What lines in the sand we are going to draw.

We watched Tuesday as fear won. We howled and heckled the TV in sheer shock and disgust, which reaction we now know was a product of our privilege – privilege that allowed us to live in a world that we believed would come to a rational conclusion. That’s not the world that most of the marginalized live in. They were not surprised.

It’s the world we all live in now.

Here’s what I wanna say to my fellow flawless folk who are white:

There can be no unity until there is equity.

While I appreciate the cries for unity and mutual understanding, we have a long, painful road to walk in order to attain it. My dear roommate put it beautifully when they compared our current plight to that of the butterfly. We cannot skip straight to the wings without first enduring the suffering of the cocoon. Transformation often looks like destruction, because it requires building an entirely new thing from the rubble of what used to be.

 We cannot skip steps in the journey to our wings. We must fight for them.

When the equity and flourishing of all humans has become a tangible reality, then we can call for unity. Then we can hold hands and light candles and sing Kumbayah. Then and only then. All the cries for inclusiveness fall short because everybody is not currently “together in this”. The power structures of our culture and society have created a wide disparity in our daily realities. As a bisexual white woman, I experience only two of the myriad ways a person can experience hate, prejudice and marginalization in today’s America. A person of color experiences far more than I do. A less straight-passing person experiences more than I do. The ground is not level.

We must level it.

Anger is not hate. When you read the angry comments of those who are facing hate crimes because of your voting choices or those of your friends and family, that is not persecution. Folks are allowed to be angry. They are not the problem. If you cannot allow them their anger, you are the problem.

I have sat in silence this week, struggling to find a way to convey to our readers both anger and grace. What follows here is my imperfect attempt.

Anger is a force that propels us forward, that alerts us to the reality that all is not well and gets us actively pursuing how we can change that reality. Anger is cleansing. Anger is transformative. Anger gets our blood boiling and our feet moving.

The grace to be found here is that you are welcome.

 I am welcome.

We are all welcome to join in the battle for the equity and flourishing of all humans.

This path is for you, but it is not *about* you.

The difference may seem subtle to you, but it is not. You are not to blame for the color of your skin, but you are responsible for what you do with the privilege it affords you. You are not in trouble for being white, but for failing to dismantle the harmful power structures of systemic whiteness. In this journey towards equity, you will find that true inclusivity often feels like oppression, when you are used to being the one whose needs and wants are centered.

But – the door is always open for you.

As a white person, I feel very strongly the call to keep the light in the window for other white folks who may currently be climbing their way out of ignorance and apathy right now. That is not any people of color’s job, but it is mine. I was once where you are now, and it is only at the hands of some very patient other white folks that I began to find my way. At any point in this journey, you can join us. My light is on for you. I am here for your questions. I am here for your searching and your reaching and your agonizing.

Here’s what I’m not here for.

I’m not here for your discomfort. I am not here for your whining. I’m not here for you trying to explain all of this way. I’m not here for your rationalizing or your excusing or your blame-shifting. Regardless of your vote,  if you are white, the onus is on you to alleviate and remedy the clear and present danger that everyone who is not like you now faces. I’m not here to sit and wallow with you. We cannot stay here. I will not stay here. I acknowledge that wallowing may be a step in your journey, but for a lot of folks, defensiveness becomes a destination. Time alone will tell whether you can move forward and join us in the trenches.

I’m gonna be honest, I’m not entirely sure where all our trenches are yet. I complain about the lack of specificity from white leaders promising to “stand against injustice”, but I still don’t have concrete answers for you about where to put your time, energy and money. I promise you that we here at the Flawless Project are working on it, and when we find them, we will not be silent. We are going to be writing and singing and speaking poems as best we know how, to further move hearts and minds and bend them towards justice. We are going to be researching practical ways to affect policy change and protest effectively. We are dedicating ourselves to the what-nows of the troubled world in which we find ourselves.

Will you join us?

Will you join us in demolishing the myths of scarcity and power and success?

Will you join us in celebrating and uplifting the flawlessness of all people?

Perhaps this is why we are all here – for such a time as this.

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