I went through a phase this year where it seemed like everywhere I turned another person was making yet another comment steeped in racism, classism, or sexism. On Facebook, on TV, in casual conversations, at work, in classrooms, the systems of oppression that rule our society were clearly alive and well. In a world where the dominant forces at play are forces of age-old oppression, it is hard to be a part of the minority of people who are aware of historical patterns of power and how they affect our lives today.
Every time I saw something, from a Fox News commentator, to a remark in a classroom, or a judgement on Facebook, I felt compelled to speak out. It was after all, my social responsibility – to see something and to say something. I felt overwhelming obligation coupled with a desperate need to be right, to point out the error of another person’s ways. I wanted to make people see the harm they could cause with their words and force them to understand the legacy of exploitation and power structures to which they contributed. So, speak out I did. For months: I wrote letters to newsrooms and editors, took every opportunity to confront people, and made my opinions known on Facebook.
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And, it was exhausting. It was unimaginably tiring, to spend so much time on futile attempts at advocacy, reform, or education, to be so angry for so long.
This is for all of the woke women of color out there who are just plain tired of the rest of the world. Your existence is inspirational. I am grateful every day, to know there are other women out there fighting the fight. Do not ever feel guilty or helpless- it is not your obligation to educate the rest of the world. It is not your job to change people’s minds. It is not your responsibility to turn every moment into an opportunity for reform. Your work is an inspiration, but you are always more important than the work that you do.
While you advocate, remember to take care of yourself. Let yourself pass up futile conversations or endeavors not well worth your time. Yes, you are a woke brown woman but, you are also so, so much more than that. You are a gift to the world. Your identity outside of advocacy is beautiful, and is just as important to cherish and nourish. It deserves to be celebrated.