About CHARLOTTESVILLE and Sororities

My daughter of the heart just posted the comment below from on Uju Anya on Facebook this a.m:

“Dear white people: COME GET YOUR COUSINS (emphasis mine). Seriously. Speak up and take a stand. This is not the time to claim individual responsibility, #notallwhitepeople, colorblindness, or whatever other lie that keeps you from feeling involved in this mess. Nazis, Klansmen, and other white supremacists are marching on a college campus and through the town of Charlottesville, Virginia. They’re not wearing hoods. They’re assaulting the few counter protesters that get close. Police is not stopping them. Armed militia are surrounding and protecting them. These white supremacists want to be seen and known, because their allies and sympathizers now hold the US presidency and major party leadership. If you are not actively and explicitly speaking, arguing, snatching wigs, and challenging your relatives, friends, social media followers on the topic of racism, inequality, white supremacy, hatred, and xenophobia, you are contributing to a culture that literally KILLS people. Stop hiding behind “respecting political differences and freedom of speech.” This is not just politics. You benefit every day from this shitty system. Now cash in some of that bonus and do some house cleaning.”12dyson-articleLarge

This issue of speaking up or staying silent hit me up close and personally three months ago in ways that are still reverberating through my life. I succumbed to terrorism, identifying eight facts about my life that make me a target for murder and mayhem here in AmeriKKKa under Trump.

My worldview with respect to race and white fragility, in a post Trump AmeriKKKa, led me to fish or cut bait…And, I let go  of membership in a women’s circle that had fed and nourished me for over 20 years. I divorced that most enduring support group this spring, just as I left to emigrate to Canada.

I was not the first woman to leave this group, over its  20-year history, nor was my leaving the most dramatic. But it was extremely painful. And, as I make meaning of it now, it had everything to do with my worldview clashing up against that of my sisters.

All of whom are white.

All of the language I use from this point on has to do with sororities. That is deliberate.

that would be ME, the BROWN one...

that would be ME, the BROWN one…

Urban dictionary definitions of “sorority” numbers 1 through 3:

1. “A group of girls who have come together because they look similar, and are now kind of friends.”

2. “A group of girls who pay to have friends.”

3. “A group of women who band together under a greek letter title. Often based in traditions, many sororities have rich histories. The girls call themselves sisters, and tend to have close friendships. Upon entering the sorority, each new member is assigned a “big sister” who will be her mentor and friend, ideally forever. As in any group of women, sometimes the sisters are catty, bitchy, slutty, partiers, nerds, prudes, or just average hard-workers.

By definition number one, I “never fit in”, with my women’s circle. I have always been the only black member of this group despite the ebb and flow of several other women joining and leaving. Since the Trumpocalypse of last Fall, I had come to realize that I could not tolerate the white women sharing from their hearts about the challenges of being in families where they were hearing racist comments from relatives. Just hearing their shares (understanding they did nothing and had no strategies for doing anything) left me traumatized. Yet for most of the winter, I had no words for my discomfort.

By definition number two, I was paying to have friends. Paying emotionally, that is. Biting my tongue and attempting to swallow indigestible pieces of the other women’s lives that gave me severe heartburn.

By definition number 3, I allowed myself to participate in a culture of emotional bullying.

GF 2

I shared here on my blog (in a fairly anonymous way) my response to words said in that sorority circle that challenged me deeply. The response to my use of those words was a furor of accusations of deep betrayal that shocked me at the time. But not any more. Under definition number three of a sorority, I had simply not understood the rules of the game:

“As in any group of women, sometimes the sisters are catty, bitchy, slutty…”

shhh... don't tell anyone.

shhh… don’t tell anyone.

For three months, I have wondered whether I was cutting off a vital source of solace and connection for a petty reason.

With this weekend ‘s events in Charlottesville, I know deep in my heart that I Did The Right Thing. The Right Thing for me, a black woman with many white friends, and biracial children, in a country  where the fires of white supremacy are threatening to burn us out.

I am a bohemian, bisexual,  pagan,  polyamorous, integrationist abortionst (those labels plus my black womanhood add up to my eight lethal identities).

Total Truth. With that much “oddness”, I am never going to fit into any formal group terribly well. At age 60 I am finding some peace in truly “grokking” that  fact.

I intend to continue to find resilience and meaning at the margins. And I embrace the ongoing work of decolonizing my mind. Alone. In small groups. And wherever humanly possible.



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