Last week I did something I will regret for the rest of my life, or at the very least for the next few years. I did something I told myself I would never, ever do. I compromised my own beliefs, my own integrity, in order to prevent an argument. I allowed ignorance to reign, in order to safeguard the way I am viewed by the perpetrators of the ignorance.
It’s not hard to see my own privilege, I’m aware of it, as far as I can be, but sometimes I am more aware of it than others. This week I made the decision not to say something when I saw an issue, and I shouldn’t have, and the guilt and distress I feel about it is something I struggle to put into words. This week I became aware of my own privilege in a very corporeal way, because I simply chose not to say something. It was a decision I could make. I saw something happen, something I disagreed with, and all I had to do was choose not to say something.
Now the fact was that my not saying anything didn’t prevent this moron from getting something of a verbal lashing. The guy she was ignorant towards (about?) was more than capable of delivering it himself. In fact if anything my guilt about this matter is entirely selfish and frankly ridiculous. This guy is 18 years old, well spoken and more than capable of telling ignorant, racially insensitive people to do one. He doesn’t need a silly white girl to do it for him. And yet here I am, a whole 72 hours later, desperately trying to rationalise my own decision.
And the fact is, if I had done this (or rather not done it) purely because he was on it, he was sorting his own issues and educating people by himself, I don’t think I would feel bad. I have total faith that this guy can handle himself, and had things gotten out of hand I would have happily weighed in on his side. But that’s not why I kept quiet. I kept mum because the thought of starting a confrontation, particularly one over social media which is something I struggle with, made me feel deeply, deeply anxious. Because my own discomfort got in the way of my social views.
Worse yet, I did this because the people I was talking to were ones I would have to be with next year, and them not liking me ( or rather the notion of them not liking me) fills me with dread. I compromised my views, my stance on issues, my social thoughts and feelings, just so that I didn’t upset a load of randoms who may or may not grow to dislike me regardless.
So to the gentleman who stood up for himself,
I should have said something