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writing to whiteness is not writing true

I honor the fact that I have been really confused and grappling with this question of “who am I writing to?”

I honor the intuitions that obfuscate, pull back, stay quiet.
even if I can’t explain them or don’t understand them yet.

In my (public) quiets and (social media) silences, I have been slowly untangling audience and motivations: who, who for, and why.

One gift of uprising is that I am starting to be able to feel in my body the feeling I feel when I’m explaining myself to whiteness or to capitalism. to feel it is to be able to name it know it recognize it, which means I can make choices about how to be in relationship to it.

when I’m writing to whiteness…

that voice is pleading
that style is sterile and argumentative. (I have to present all my evidence, arrayed just so, with sources and references. put myself in their shoes, so I can preempt the naysayers and critics, and be ready with counterarguments.)
it’s really fast.
it’s really hot (‘stress causes inflammation’)
the need is to be seen, but the results leave me feeling icky—drained and unsatisfied

because “your very language invalidates me” (Our Bodies Knew)
and because this mode reinforces my invisibility.
the ‘success’ of this writing relies on others getting it, relies on audience reaction for satisfaction.
(and how long will it take
how many cycles of abuse
before I finally understand that
white supremacy and patriarchy and racial capitalism
bank and profit off my feelings of dissatisfaction,
have no interest in satisfying me or hearing me)

I am also starting to recognize in my body the way it feels when I am performing allyship.

That voice is self-righteous, aggrandizing.
That style is defensive. The message is: look what I did and why.
I’m puffed up and my forehead leads leaning forward
because my back is up and tight.
Underlying it is guilt.
The need is to be validated.
The fear is the (undercurrent of eons of) complicity.
The results leave me feeling a little bit cold, a little bit empty of everything except lots of doubt.

When I am centering myself and my own experiences at the expense of others, it becomes disorienting — for myself and others — because the compass is pointed in the wrong direction. And we need to face and follow the center (adrienne maree brown).

Sometimes it’s about me, and a lot of times it’s not.
Humility means finding your right place in the circle (Corinna Gould, Movement Generation “Course Correction #3”)
Humility is about rightsizing (BK, N&N)

Sometimes I’m an essayist and a blogger and a memoirist.
So sometimes my rightsized place is to share my own journey.
A takeaway about writing the personal and the political from a workshop with Ijeoma Oluo: when you share your journey of how you got from one way of thinking/being to another, and if others recognize themselves in some detail of that journey, then you might bring them along for some portion of that ride.

I am getting to know what it feels like in my body when I am writing true.
True to myself, from myself (for myself).

It is aligned.*
It comes from my center.
I am loose and easy in my body.
I can drop into my belly with an exhale.
The pace is slower; I’m not worried about losing the words or the thread because I trust that they are there.
Wordplay and turns of phrases — the poetic license that makes me smile — beckons around every corner.
It is a dance, and there is a lightness.
I can take my time, and I can meander, taking the circuitous route.
and I can leave out large swathes of wordforests because I trust that what I need to say will still come through and be received and can be understood.

I leave feeling like I can breathe deeper and easier.
I leave smiling, lighter, energized, and excited to share.
Or alternately proud and whole — trusting that the piece will find and wend its way into others’ lives when the opening presents itself.
Or that it’s already served its purpose and sharing with others is just icing on the cake.
I trust.

I want to commit to more of that kind of writing — which will take some muscle because it will require some clearing of the calendar space and a rearranging of some priorities.

Some sayings of ‘no’ on a tangible project&life level.
But also some sayings of ‘no’ on an interior level — the discipline to recognize when I am going down a rabbithole pursuing white understanding or when my energy is being pulled into an undertow of chasing waterfalls. (because sometimes it can feel so good to analyze it and justify it and understand it to be able to chalk it up to systemic analysis or another’s shortcomings, to feel vindicated..)

It is part of living the question of how and when to write about myself and experiences with racism and share that learning in public about my antiracism journey, when also sometimes “racism is a distraction”. (toni morrison)

Sometimes this writing is my work, and sometimes it is not.

And when I feel myself tightening up, bitters up my throat, resentments muttering…

To let myself stop myself.
Remind myself: I don’t have to. do that.

Find center face center follow center.

Who am I writing to?
Who am I writing for?
Am I writing for the world
Am I writing for the world I/we want
What am I writing toward, facing, at center?

I don’t always have to know in my mind body if I can feel it in my physical body and follow that.


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