Every step I take on the road to becoming “woke” I stumble upon rocks of my own shame and defensiveness. I’ll be honest, some days I think: I AM THERE…I AM AWARE! Because I’m pausing to think about racist housing systems when people give numbers about how home-owning is such a part of the middle class. Because I’m reflecting on the school-to-prison pipeline when I hear stats about kids getting suspended in school. Because I notice racial homogeny at all points in my life now and I step back to see what invisible threads of oppression might be holding that together. I don’t have to read articles about these things anymore because I’m already writing them in my head. I still read the articles, of course, but my instincts are much more aware of systemic racism than they were before Trayvon Martin’s murderer went free.
I AM WOKE! I sometimes believe. Like a fool.
But then I see outrage over a statue wearing a pink hat and my first response is I don’t get what the big deal is.
Because in my white world – a Pink Pussyhat (which I myself was given at the FIRST women’s march/rally in 2017) – is pink because the color pink represents femininity and women are so often connected to the color pink. Because no matter how much I learn, I am still looking at the world through the perspective of my own white skin.
But the whole reason the “pussyhat” was chosen was in response to the President saying he would “grab them by the pussy” and so it OBVIOUSLY has a double meaning and if your skin is white, you don’t think about the other meaning as much but if your skin is black or brown you see the OTHER meaning and y’all? This is where it REALLY shows I have SO MUCH MORE TO LEARN:
This weekend at MY rally? There were tons of women of color wearing BLACK pussy hats. And do you know what my ignorant self thought? That they just didn’t like the color pink. And you know what I thought? I’ll let you sit down for this one:
I thought I might want a black one instead since I don’t like the color pink either.
Again. I saw it as just a color choice without even SEEING the bigger picture behind the color choice.
It wasn’t until I started reading articles from people who did not see it as cute as others did:
But intentionally or not, the pink pussyhat associated with the Women’s March overlooks the living, breathing bodies of multitudes of women. Not all women have vaginas, and those who do don’t necessarily have pink genitals.
And y’all? I’ve been looking at the symbolism of that pink pussyhat for over a year and NEITHER OF THESE POINTS EVER OCCURRED TO ME. So not only was I blinded by my own white skin, but I was also blinding by my own genatalia and how it “defines” a women’s movement for me. JEEZUS, ZOOT. I wove racist and transphobic threads in that line of thinking without even realizing it.
I’ll be thinking on this for a few days so I may come back and visit this more. I also want to read more from women of color about this, but I just wanted to step up and say, “My name is Zoot and I still have so much to learn.”