By: Jacqueline Gates – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
Yesterday I went to vote.
For the first time as an American, after living here for 22 years.
It was an existential experience.
I stood in line between a chic black woman in a mask, who kept repeating that she preferred to stand 12 ft apart, even as the library guy ushered her forward to the 6’ markers…
And a giant of a white man in a football shirt, legs astride, arms crossed, no mask at all.
Two aspects of the same country – one trying to survive with grace and dignity, striving to claim enough space to feel safe in; the other so certain of his safety and entitlement that he will enter a public building as if he owns it.
Me in the middle.
I read a post in my Facebook feed this morning about Trump and all the “good” he has done.
What struck me most was that the message was just as one-sided and convinced of rightness as any I’ve read about the same man and the divisiveness he’s wrought.
We all want to be right – There’s a saying that most people would rather be right than happy.
But at what cost?
What happens when our need to be right costs other people their literal lives?
The fear I’ve had till now of speaking up and out about racism is the same fear I’ve had about stating my opinion about anything really.
I’ve always been the diplomat, the mediator, the let’s-hear-both-sides one, equipped with weapons-grade charm and a knack for smoothing waters.
I told myself I was the fulcrum in the scales of justice, stable, impartial, unswayed.
That was a lie. A delusion of safety.
When I confront my privilege and ease, the truth looks far less noble.
I’ve been afraid to take a stand.
I’ve been afraid to take sides.
I’ve been afraid to be seen/judged as wrong.
I’ve been afraid to find out I am in the wrong.
I’ve been afraid to be wrong.
My whiteness has always been a cushion; my attractiveness an auto-entry card; my femininity an asset that I’ve invested in for great return.
In the grand Lottery of life, I’m one of the lucky ones. I am more fortunate than many.
Oh, make no mistake, I believe I created my life.
I take full responsibility for the situation I enjoy now – in my marriage, my family, my home and my work.
But I also can not,
gloss over the fact that my path was made far easier by the opportunities that came with the genetic hand I was dealt at birth.
To cash in on those opportunities is nothing to be ashamed of.
But to know that others do not have those same opportunities and to be afraid to take a stand for them, to risk speaking up in their defense, in case I say something wrong???
That is cowardice.
I have been a coward.
My cowardice told me that I couldn’t build a thriving business unless I was “all things to all wo/men”.
I was wrong.
In trying to be all things to all wo/men, I have spent too long being nothing at all for the very people I care about.
In keeping my opinions to myself to avoid some perceived existential risk, I have been complicit in the literal risk Black folk experience daily.
In that line, waiting to cast my vote, I decided I couldn’t be in the middle anymore.
Because it can’t be about me and my white life anymore. The cost is just too high.
It has to be about Black lives now
To my white friends who see themselves in these words, I say, to sit silently on the fence is no longer an option.
To my Black friends, I say, I’m sorry it took this long to realize that what I thought was a fulcrum was actually a fence pole up my arse.
More by Jacqueline:
I am the Goddess known as Jacqui.
I strive to become a masterful live-er,
to live a beauty-filled life …
full of light + depth,
and the glorious.
I can help you learn to do the same, and in the process we can make magic in your home and life happen.