Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Gave Birth To A White Man

This is a guest post by Shawna Foster.

Shawna Foster is your average white mother living in the midwest. She awoke to the issues of women and race through her spiritual work as a Unitarian Universalist.(UUA.org) She has been trained by the denomination in Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression and leads workshops on these subjects at her church for adults and youth. She also supports GLBT rights through the "Welcoming Congregation" program at her church.

I gave birth to a white man. Not THE white man, but one of them. He'll have everything tailored his way no matter how hard he may rebel against the system. People will look at his blue eyes and think he is beautiful and courageous. He will walk down the street and be admired for nothing he did, but benefiting the from the system patriarchy has ruthlessly created for him. He will never be told he is too aggressive for speaking his mind, he is the embodiment of society's decree of
goodness. Even if he were to lose a leg, or to chose men as lovers, his struggle will be easily empathized with while those with brown eyes and dark skin are ignored and used as a token. His pink lips will never want for food, and his blond head will have university education easily accessible to him because admission tests make so much sense to him and his pale hands will be able to pick his friends of any colour whether they like or not. He will come to think of his sister as less and judge her by beauty instead of her mind, and will start to treat all women that way despite the best intentions. They will become objects and playthings to be owned, conquered, and put aside. He will automatically see his father's view as the right way to view the world, and his mother's as interesting, but not as valid. His father's approval should be more important than mine to validate his existence as a man.

And I will tell him of his ways, and tell him of his white history, tell him in the 1900's how my forebears lynched three black men over a small debt, how his grandfather used the word 'nigger' casually, how we were the slave-owners, how the people he loves at church are racist and elitist by believing we can't attract 'others' because 'they' don't worship the same way, show him the 'bad' north part of town under the bridge with the easy check cashing next to the liquor stores with schools and houses that are falling apart compare it to the 'safe' west part of town with planned communities and new schools and open spaces and crisp white streets, how white men raped brown bodies over and over, take him to the homeless shelter and see the majority are women and children crying for a home, how my grandmothers pretended to care as long as it was convenient, how Cherokee blood is only there because of a white man's rape, how even his mother still assumes those who speak spanish are the cleaning people, how his father fears black men on the street, how his teachers praise his opinions but not his black classmates, and he will tell me it isn't his fault. Somehow, he will try to escape the bloody, hypocritical, twisted, harsh hands of his ancestors. While he senselessly gets granted access to the best of the world over and over, it isn't his fault he takes advantage of it. He couldn't be responsible for his ancestor's deeds. He can't change his color anymore than anyone else. However, if it were possible, would he really? If he fully knew the racism, classism, sexism, ism, ism, ism, that he doesn't have to worry about now, would he trade his lot in life for a black man's? And he would say no.

To him, for the first time, he will open the door and look upon the house he dwells in, the house of white privilege and patriarchy, and see it is built upon sand - the tide is coming in. To stem the tide, white patriarchy does what it has for thousands of years: oppress others to add more sand. There he will have a choice to shut the door and live in the house pretending the foundation is sound. Or he can take a difficult road and leave the house built for him that have all
his friends in it. Because when he rejects the paradigm he will not have a house to live in. White males, his friends and his community will look at him aghast when he points out that they live in this house. And the community his appearance oppresses will not forget his ancestors sins and welcome him with open arms. Indeed, the only other person he will find is his mother, and even she runs back in the house of white privilege from time to time, adding sand to keep it from crumbling, sometimes realizing it and sometimes not.

Do not pity this white man or the future choices he has to make. Don't pity the mess white men have made for themselves, hate it. Help destroy it. They have had enough pity, forgiveness and every other advantage. Don't spend to much time thinking about this white man at all, he doesn't deserve it. He has his mother to look after him.


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