The Burden of Empathy: A Woman’s Tale of Being a Victim and Witness of Harassment

I’ve spent most of my life completely ignorant to my white girl privilege. When I finally started to wake up, I was not prepared for the pain and shame I would feel. It’s not enough to say, “I didn’t know.” It was all around me, it was in the media and in the faces and lives of my friends of color, varying preferences, and gender identities. It’s not enough to say, “I didn’t practice discrimination or exclusion.” It was around me and I didn’t know the full scope of what my friends, and anyone different than I, really felt or experienced daily or moment-to-moment.

How could I not know?

I’ve experienced and survived heartache, destitution, and struggles to find my place in this world. I’ve had my share of gender inequality, foul and sexist comments, ass and breast grabs, drinks drugged, cat calls, leering, missed (and lack of) opportunities, as well as consistently made to feel inferior to male colleagues and even the important men in my life. As I look back on what I just accepted as “the way it is,” I’m angry. I’m angry at myself for not waking up sooner, for not speaking out louder sooner, for not calling shitheads out more often.

When I did say something, I was dismissed as being too sensitive or for misunderstanding intent – for exaggerating what had happened. Looking back, my feelings and callouts were spot on. They just fell on deaf ears and eyes that refused to see the truth in what women have always had to face, because it’s just “the way it is.”

Black Lives Matter

It wasn’t until I studied the BLM movement that I started to see beyondmy own white girl pain, to better understand inequality and what privilege is all about.  It doesn’t matter how hard I’ve worked or struggled, that’s not the comparison being made. It doesn’t matter what doors have been closed to me due to being female or what promotions or opportunities I missed, this is not about me or my career.

It is about fear. It is about what I haven’t had to fear on a regular basis. The bullshit line of “well, don’t do anything wrong and you won’t have anything to fear” is a classic example of white privilege not caring to understand how real and true inequality is.

There is No Rebuttal

Yes, all lives matter – but that is not a valid or considerate rebuttal. There is no rebuttal to Black Lives Matter. Just say it. Just feel it. Just live what it means. It’s pretty simple. It really isn’t a complicated phrase with a complicated or hidden meaning. If you add an alternate meaning other than what it actually is – that black lives matter– then you are making up excuses to continue in an ignorant and exclusive belief system.

The Better Way

I have always wanted to find a better way. The better way of learning, understanding. The better way of doing life, of living life. Every day I want to do and be better than I was the day before.

My better may not be as good as yours. What is important is that I continue on a right path – not a righteous path – but a correct and true path that leads to liberty and justice for all. Not devotion to a flag, not devotion to a white god, not devotion to what has always been. But a devotion to “the better way.”

Doing better, Being better. How can that be wrong?