I thought, “I’m no exception. The things that motivated me and shaped my attitudes around learning and taking risks are not isolated. Everything is made by the same hand, so if it’s happening in my life, there’s a chance that the answers I find to life’s questions might mean something to someone else, too.”
But then came the ethical question: am I looking to honor our experiences, or pathologize them? Does the world really need more literature about our lives? (I think a trope of white culture is that you have to see something in order for it to be real, which is why identity work focuses so heavily on making “others” be seen)
Power, I argue, lies in the unseen. It’s not what’s visible and easily targeted that creates centuries deep systems. It’s ideas. Ideas are invisible, and what we see is the co-evolution of the unintended consequences of those ideas.
So while analyzing my experiences and sharing the conclusions has become a site for self-care—and to learn how my experiences fit into a larger social phenomenon fulfills a strong human need for connection—I’m becoming more curious and frustrated that I still don’t know how to see or talk about that thing which in so many ways, my blackness and womanhood are responding to and adjusting to and coping with and recovering from—and that is whiteness.
What is white society comprised of/ if treated as a pathology, how do we spot the symptoms in everyday life?—what is this thing that we’re healing from and learning to operate within?
I feel like I’m Alice chasing multiple bunnies, and I’m not sure which of the questions is most urgent. It’s a matter of prevention (what is whiteness) vs. maintenance (how are we adapting, healing and living with whiteness as the universal reality) in the name of social and spiritual medicine.