Yesterday at work, a co-worker sighed as he asked another if he had been following the news. I braced myself for how this white, cis, male would describe the unfolding Kavanaugh hearing. I started mentally preparing for the perspective I’d have to give as the only woman in the office. But, as my focus turned back to them, I realized they were talking about something going on with the local tech giant. Can you imagine the mental peace of mind you’d have if that were the news taking up your brainspace?
It got me thinking about the luxury of being able to ignore the news, of being able to not take a political stance. I’ve heard many times over by the white men in my life that they try not to pay attention to the news because it’s “too depressing.” And yes, it is upsetting, but so many of us don’t have the privilege of ignoring the news because what’s going on in our country is a direct threat to our lives and safety.
They don’t have to worry about legislation governing their body. They don’t have to be afraid of holding their partner’s hand in public. They don’t have to mourn for family in the Middle East who might have dreams of creating a safer life in America but will never get the chance.
Don’t get me wrong. No person should have to watch the news if it is too hard, or painful, or close to home. Sometimes you have to guard your heart. But, it’s when people pretend that current events aren’t happening, that they’ll just blow over. Because they won’t - not without action from every person who is able. If you care for just one woman, one person of color, one lgbtqia+ or differently abled person, how can you sit back and dilute yourself enough to believe they won’t be affected?
The result of this ambivalence is reflected in the Kavanaugh hearing. On Twitter, Celest Ng (author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere) said, “So what we’re learning is, no one unravels more spectacularly than someone who’s been privileged all his life (straight, white, rich, man) and suddenly faces a consequence.”
Privilege comes with a lot of power. It can either spoil you, or it can give you a position to fight on behalf of others who don’t have the luxury of being listened to. Your discomfort watching the news is nothing compared to the danger people are in simply for being alive. It’s easy to shake your head or retweet something on social media. Taking action that makes a difference isn’t comfortable. But in today’s America, complacency is murder.
Things you can do:
Text resistbot (resist to 50409) .
Call your representatives (there are scripts online for just about any topic).
Volunteer at non-profits that are fighting back.
Volunteer for candidates that are fighting back.
Sign up for the re:act newsletter.
Gain empathy and perspective through books & the stories of people affected.
Join local civil rights groups and attend protests.
If you have a platform, read my friend Anna’s post: Everything is Political.
Believe women. Believe PoC. Believe lgbtqia+ folks.
Stay informed and stop waiting for someone to tell you what to do.