Speak When You Are Not Spoken To, Listen Without Being Asked

Well, here we are.  I haven’t blogged in so long now that it feels like I should be saying something particularly meaningful, some amazing truth bomb that will go viral and blow your whole day apart.  In truth, I have a cold and didn’t feel like going to my third bellydancing lesson.  I’m congested and my face hurts.  So, in that haze of discomfort I figured I would write instead.  (Hopefully I won’t be entirely lost next week at bellydancing, but it’s a real possibility.)

I’ve thought about writing many times.  The inauguration of Trump left me stunned and silent at a time when I most wanted to speak.  Somehow, this seems to be my general pattern, giving such great weight and responsibility to my words that I cannot find or gather any of them.  I could have mentioned how I hate his racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-environmentalism.  I could have said that he seems like a narcissist who duped voters with his bravado.  I could have said that I cried listening to Obama’s farewell speech while driving to my favorite movie theater that is about to close.

But, who cares how I feel?  Lots of people have already pointed out all of these things.  I can’t illuminate any of these points with evidence that you wouldn’t be better served by learning about via legitimate news sites.  I can’t tell you something that will change our circumstances now.  I don’t think you need lots of bitter metaphors or empty positivity.

I figured I could just say some personal things on here and ignore politics altogether. That might be the way to go.  However, this felt like an absurdity too.  Why would I share the minutiae of my days with you when all of these terrible things are happening?  I am learning bellydancing!  Aren’t you excited for me?  Hope you don’t mind losing all of your human rights!

So, what this tells me is that now everything feels so awful with the state of our country that I’m at a loss for how to function in ways that validate my own experience.  I don’t feel entitled to talk about myself because there are bigger worries, even as I worry about how we aren’t listening to people’s stories.  I’m terrified of people being silenced, yet I am silenced by my own feelings of lack of worth.

Sure, I’m a minority:  working class, lesbian, female atheist.  But, I’m white and youngish, and perhaps a bit cute.  I’m able-bodied.  I could be more oppressed?

But, wait.  Isn’t this what I am angry about?  The feeling that I am being so stripped of everything that I have to be grateful for any scrap thrown?  I ate dinner today, so I should shut up.  I might have a hoopty, but it is mobile.  Why should I complain that my healthcare might be taken away?  That I often feel unsafe in my own apartment?  That it is NOT cool with me to see my neighbors NRA tag on their car and then watch them creep on me and wonder if they plan to hurt me?

I should shut up.  I should sit down.  Unfortunately, that’s the feeling of a lot of oppressed people.  Someone else has it worse, harder, more fucked up than me.  Fine, maybe they do.  It doesn’t make my situation fair or right.  It doesn’t make it acceptable.  I don’t want to use my voice to shout down others who have it worse.  I want to stand up.  I want to be just another reminder of how not okay it is to diminish others through your own privilege.  If I want you to listen, I have to believe that I am worth it.  Money buys you a lot of attention, so does position, power, and the charisma to make others buy what you sell.  I don’t have any of that.  That’s why you should listen.  That’s why I should speak.


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