come to the table
Watch this man and listen to what he has to say. His name is Mysonne.
We’ve all hurt someone. We’ve all been hurt.
We ask men to come to the table to change the rape culture that they’ve benefitted from without even realizing it. He’s there, at the table for us. Think about how it feels to hear him get it, recognize that he’s hurt people, understand why his normal needs to change. Feel the relief for someone whose heart wants to make our lives safer and fuller. It feels like hope. I love him for that.
Now hear me, with your hearts that want to make lives fuller and safer: we need to come to that table, too. We need change the white supremacist culture that we’ve benefited from without realizing it.
Don’t shut down. Stay with me. I know you’re tired. Stay with me.
My friend Adana describes the difference between misogyny and racism as being bitten to death or clawed to death by the same beast. It’s one monster: the patriarchy is white and it’s not a coincidence. It’s a foul braid of power that holds us all down, and tells us that the people held down next to us are to blame, are paranoid, are making it up, are just playing the victim.
Women and survivors know how it feels to have to fight to be believed. We know how heartbreaking it is to watch lawmakers dismiss us, to hear people we thought were friends play devil’s advocate. It is so clear to us why they do that: because they can’t bear the idea that the stories we are telling could be true. Because that would mean the world that loved them hated us and they haven’t yet cared enough to listen to us. That’s scary for them, but we are demanding they suck it up because our lives are on the line. That is not an unreasonable demand.
If we are ready to move forward with real, scary, momentous change, we need to be willing to bear the idea that our friends who are people of color are telling true stories, too. The world that loves our skin hates theirs in the same way that the world that loves men hates women. They are held down next to us. None of us is making this shit up. We have to be in this together.
Let’s take this beast down, claws AND teeth.
Let’s do it together.
Start right now by taking some time to think about what you’ve asked the men in your life to do:
Believe you when you say you can recognize misogyny and sexism, even if they can’t see it. Trust your ability to know when you’ve been hurt.
Stop supporting people who treat women like shit. Stop hanging out with those shitty bros. Or tell them, “Hey man, that’s not cool. You gotta respect her.” When YOU reject them, that’s when they’ll start to care. When they’re rejected by their own guys.
Make violence against women or neglect of women a nonnegotiable deal-breaker for your votes, your dollars, your friendships, your artists, your comics, your novels, your television, your movies.
Speak up for us to the people to whom we assume we sound like seagulls squawking. They can hear your voice as a human voice. We need you to introduce us, too: “Hello, have you met my also-human friend Rachel? She is female but her pain feels like your pain and if it’s unacceptable to happen to you, then it’s also unacceptable to happen to her. Also, you both love sushi!”
Do not make this shit about you. Do not white knight us. Do not make us the body count in your hero’s journey. That is fucked up.
Now think about how you can do THAT for people of color in America:
Believe people of color when they say that something was racist, even if you can’t see it. Trust their ability to know when they’ve been hurt.
Stop supporting people who treat people of color like shit. Stop hanging out with those people, or better yet, tell them, “Hey, that’s not cool. What you just did? It wasn’t cool. Don’t do that.” When we reject them, that’s when they’ll start to care. When they’re rejected by their own people.
Make violence against people of color a nonnegotiable deal-breaker for your votes, your dollars, your friendships, your artists, your comics, your novels, your HALLOWEEN COSTUMES, your television, your movies.
Speak up to people who hear people of color as squawking seagulls. They can hear our voices as human voices. It’s our job to make them hear their voices, too. “Hello, have you met my also-human friend Rachel? She is black, and her pain feels like your pain, and if it is unacceptable to happen to you is also unacceptable to happen to her. Oh! And you both love sushi.”
Do not make this shit about us. Do not white savior this. Do not make people of color the body count in your ally’s journey. It’s fucked up.
See? Everything we want, other people want too. If we are asking for it, we need to be willing to give it back. If it’s reasonable for us to demand this, and hurtful when it’s denied, connect the dots. Take the next logical step. There is no reason for us to deny the work we need to do, too. And we can do more than one hard thing at once. We are exactly strong enough.
I’m saying this to you with love and fighting spirit.
We are all capable of forcing incredible changes in our country, and if we take care of each other we can get there. Burn the braid, kill the beast; freedom for some is freedom for none. Come to the table. Saved you a seat.