In case you’re new around here, we’re closing in on year two of monthly Diversity Chic posts (what?!) Here’s what we’re all about:
Diversity Chic is a collaboration of Dallas bloggers showcasing current fashion trends on a variety of skin tones, hair colors, body types and heights. Each month we will feature a new trend tailored to our personalities and style.
Our focus is to explore the world of fashion in its unique, diverse, and stylish manner – one trend at a time.
I have to tell you guys, I’ve been struggling to write this post. I have so much to say but at the same time, I can’t find the words. You know the feeling, when there’s so much bubbling up inside that you think if you start to let it out, you won’t be able to stop it? I think my friend Cady Heron described it as word vomit.
This post started out as a reply to a comment but some of my friends convinced me that it needed to be here as well. White people are stereotyped sometimes, too. Sometimes we are judged before people know anything about us and sometimes crimes are committed against white people simply for being white. I know this. I’m fully aware.
HOWEVER I keep seeing people try to compare those issues to systemic issues that minorities face in this country and that has to stop, y’all. They’re just not the same. So here’s my anger-fueled take on that. I usually try to remain calm and kind in these situations but there’s only so many times I can calmly explain something. I edited a few things because some of it didn’t make sense as-is on its own.
At the bottom I’ve listed some basic resources if you’re still scratching your head on this. I get it, it’s hard and I’ve been figuring it out for years and every day I’m still learning. But please try to understand. Just try. Read this blog post, then click the link at the bottom for my absolute favorite resource to help understand these issues.
Lately I haven’t had much energy to debate with people but it seems I don’t have much choice. I’m sorry you’ve been through some bad experiences where people judged you because you are white, unfortunately people of all shapes, sizes, colors, etc are just crappy. It’s a part of life. But you seem to be missing the point. See, what happened to you sucks. But that’s it – it sucks. The things that happened to Sevi (and happen to black men, women and children every day) happen because of historical context. It’s not an accident. In case you’ve forgotten, slavery happened a mere 200 years ago (really less, but this isn’t a history lesson). A quick Google search will show you Selma, where men and women were blasted with fire hoses and attacked by dogs for trying to get basic civil rights 50 years ago. Your parents were probably alive then – that’s how recent this was. Again, sorry you dealt with some bad stuff in Flint but you’re not fighting a system that has been asking you to fail since your ancestors were ENSLAVED, torn from their home country and brought to the US to build up a country. The US is built on free labor.
I’m a woman and you are too, so maybe this will make it a little clearer. We have to fight some pretty crappy stuff sometimes as women. When I have an experience that I know is because of systemic oppression against women (even a small one), it upsets me deeply. Not just because it hurt my feelings (which it does, and that’s valid) but it’s more upsetting because I know it’s not just me. These things happen to women everywhere because of male privilege and that freaking sucks. It’s hurtful and it’s tough to know that the problems can’t just be ignored or fixed overnight. That’s the closest thing I can relate to when it comes to systemic racism and what it feels like to be oppressed because of your skin color.
There will always be prejudice but to try to compare your experiences to something that is systemic is selfish and does nothing to fix the racial issues that are still VERY prevalent in our country here in 2015. You can be mad at me, you can talk mess back to me, but the truth of racism in this country is right in front of you.
This is a post about race. If you’re not into that, you’re welcome to leave. Not in a rude way, I’m just warning you. Social justice is important to me and it’s part of who I am, therefore it’s part of this blog.
For those of you who aren’t aware, Ben Affleck was featured on “Finding Your Roots” and wanted the producers to omit the fact that his ancestors owned slaves. Once word got out, Ben himself decided to issue the following response:
via Ben Affleck’s Facebook
So I wrote this letter to Ben. Here goes nothing.
Dear Ben Affleck,
I get it, man. I really do. Finding out your ancestors owned slaves is SO embarrassing and triggers a whole heck of a lot of white guilt.
I know this because I experienced it about a month ago when I decided to research my family tree through Ancestry.com. I only did the two week trial so I had to get as much info as I possibly could during that time and some of the things I saw were really heartbreaking. I’m so bummed I don’t have a screenshot, but I literally saw a list of all the slaves owned by one of my ancestors. Every single one. Their names on a sheet of paper in front of my face. And there were a lot. Like more than twenty. It brought me to tears.
I pushed down a whole lot of feelings and it was really hard for me to deal with. I’m white so I’ve always known the likelihood of my family owning slaves was pretty high. But (like most people, I assume) I was holding out that maybe my ancestors were some of the “good ones.” Let’s be honest though, those people probably didn’t exist.
So I know how you’re feeling. You’re a super high profile guy. I have NO reach and I was still too embarrassed to talk about it on this little old blog. If they had left it in the show, you were scared somehow people would come after you…like everyone in this country didn’t already assume that your ancestors owned slaves?
Get real, if you’re white, your family probably owned slaves.
That’s why affirmative action exists, my friend, Ben. Because your family was a bunch of jerks who owned slaves. They held people captive and forced them to do free labor. Your family’s inherent wealth and success was based on FREE LABOR FROM OTHER HUMANS. Mine was too. HEAVY STUFF, BENJAMIN.
It’s a lot. It’s a whole lot to deal with. I’ve been grappling with it for a while. I am such a hard worker, but the success that was given to me can literally be traced back to the free labor of others. Insert white guilt.
White guilt gets a bad rap but I think it can be really helpful as long as it doesn’t just stay guilt. Turn the guilt into something useful. Figure it out. Don’t just sit there and feel bad about what your ancestors did, do something. Educate yourself. More importantly, learn about the repercussions it has on your life today. Figure out why you’re where you are today. Because of your own hard work? Of course. No one’s trying to take that away from you. But that’s not all.
“We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors and the degree of interest in this story suggests that we are, as a nation, still grappling with the terrible legacy of slavery.” No one thinks YOU owned slaves, Ben. Obviously. But it’s time we (white people) just straight up realize and admit that we DO still get some benefits from slavery and that’s really messed up. Two hundred years ago wasn’t that long when you’re talking about family wealth.
Here’s what I’m saying, dearest Ben, stop pushing the feelings away. Be a little embarrassed (because it’s SO embarrassing….like, really) but if you’re really that embarrassed, you need to get yourself involved in racial issues in 2015. Because it’s allllll connected, broski. You can read some stuff I wrote about Ferguson here but people way way smarter than me have written so much good stuff so just start Googling.
If you have any questions, you probably have some really important friends who can help you understand. I don’t think you’ll be reaching out to me anytime soon but if you want to, you can contact me via the form on this here blog or just leave a comment.
On Monday’s episode of “Fashion Police,” Giuliana Rancic decided it would be hilarious to comment on Zendaya’s choice to wear dreadlocks to the Academy Awards, saying “I feel like she smells like patchouli oil and weed.”
Before we go any further, let’s chat about white privilege. To make it easy on both of us, the BEST resource for understanding white privilege is Peggy McIntosh’s, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. I’m SO thankful to the my favorite professor at A&M for introducing it to me (I’m looking at you, Dr. Brown) because it’s such a tangible way to look at white privilege. If you’re unfamiliar, I HIGHLY encourage you to take the time to read it – it’s mostly a list so just pretend like it’s a buzzfeed article or something.
If you’re super crunched for time, basically McIntosh analyzes her own daily life to figure out how she benefits from white privilege. Here are a few examples:
I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race.
I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to “the person in charge,” I will be facing a person of my race.
Make sense? Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s move on.
After that nasty comment from Rancic, Zendaya responded in the most eloquent, beautiful way….especially since she’s only 18 years old.
I don’t even want to know how I would’ve responded if I was 18 years old. There probably would’ve been a lot of caps lock or emojis or something. Also hashtags. (Maybe that’s how I would respond now….)
No one is upset Rancic didn’t like Zendaya’s look. We’ve all seen “Fashion Police” before, it’s what they do. The problem is the language that was used and the insensitive racial undertones that were present. I’m sure Rancic thought her comment was hilarious and “all in good fun” (hey, white privilege). Because guess what – no one would say that about Rancic….because she’s white. Just like she didn’t say that about Kylie Jenner’s “edgy” look a few weeks ago.
Ransic said something terrible. Pretty much everyone is pissed about it, and rightfully so. But you know what she did right? She apologized. It would’ve been easy for her to fight this, or give a fake “I didn’t now what I was saying” apology, but she didn’t. Instead she said this
“It is not my intent that matters, it’s the result.”
I can’t even begin to express to you how much this resonated with me. How many times have I unknowingly said something offensive? More than I would like to admit or probably even know about. It’s easy to just give ourselves a pass (because, you know, white privilege) and move on. Let’s not do this, y’all. Instead, figure out why it offended that person (if it’s a friend, ASK) and apologize. LISTEN. Don’t make excuses. Don’t shift the blame. Apologize and learn from it. Don’t do it again. Become more conscious of what you say.
I’m going to keep messing up. And I know I have some great friends who are people of color that will call me out when I do. Yeah it’s going to sting a bit, but it’s part of owning up to my white privilege and becoming a better person for it.
The hardest but most important part of being a white ally is listening. And listening means recognizing you’re wrong and taking people’s concerns seriously. Let’s all agree to just listen a little better and be more careful with what we say, okay loves?
This isn’t going to be a huge long rant, filled with statistics about women’s pay. I’m tired of that. I don’t have the energy and it’s really not necessary at this point. It’s really easy, you guys. Here are some definitions of what feminism is:
The beauty of feminism is you don’t have to align with all feminists on all issues. Just like any other group of people, feminists aren’t all the same. As long as you believe women should be equal to men – you’re a feminist. It’s really that simple.
I’m a proud feminist myself and incredibly proud to be married to one, too. Don’t be afraid of the label…I promise, it feels better once you finally say it out loud.
I told you guys from the beginning this blog was going to be a little of everything and today it’s going to get a little heavy. I hope this isn’t too political for some of you, but honestly this is something that’s really important to me and it’s worth talking about. It NEEDS to be talked about. If I’m going to claim to be an ally, I have to do it in all aspects of my life…including this blog.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with what’s happening in Ferguson right now…like right this minute, I honestly can’t bear to outline the whole story so here are some helpful articles that will get you started.
So now that we’re all caught up, you’re probably feeling really down and helpless. That’s how I’ve felt for the last 9 days or. It’s pretty upsetting once you realize how bad things are (not just in Ferguson), but this is the perfect time to take action. Channel that energy into something positive and DO something. I know sometimes we get SO much information about how terrible something is and then nothing ever happens. We forget about it and we’re back in our normal, everyday lives. Don’t let that happen. Please.
Here are some things you can DO to help out the people of Ferguson
I know some people claim that raising awareness is “slacktivism” and in some cases, I get it. Unfortunately racial inequality is one situation where we seriously need awareness. We live in a “post racial” society – we think racism is something that is deep in our past that doesn’t really exist anymore. Unfortunately, this just isn’t true and the shooting of Mike Brown, along with the treatment of the community protesting, is evidence to the contrary. The mainstream media is finally starting to really report on Ferguson but for the first few days, the easiest place to find information was on Twitter. Think about how powerful that is. They have tried to silence the people, and social media was used to spread information like wildfire. It’s pretty amazing. So don’t let it stop here – use the hashtag #Ferguson on social media and stay engaged. I really can’t emphasize this enough. Don’t get complacent and don’t get quiet.
I wish I had more to say at this point, but I just can’t. I’m exhausted, I’m broken and my faith in the American “justice” system has been further shaken. Thankfully, I’m not alone. WE are exhausted, WE are broken and WE expect more from the US. Do what you can to fix this.
AFST/HIST 301 – Blacks in the United States Since 1877.
This was the class that changed it all for me. My eyes and my heart were opened, learning about and trying to understand the full consequences of modern day oppression of African Americans in the US. This wasn’t stuff that happened “so long ago,” this was recent. This was current.
Dr. Broussard was a no-BS kind of guy. After dominating our first exam, the day of the second exam I just didn’t have it in me. Test anxiety got the better of me and I finished my essay test way too quickly. I handed it in and Dr. Broussard just looked at me and said “Throwin’ in the towel early, huh Valery?” He wasn’t angry, but probably disappointed. I still have that exam (I made a C, by the way) – it was the first time I felt like I had really disappointed a professor. Dr. Broussard spoke his mind and his small frame, glasses and gray hair made it all the more surprising when he would get especially passionate about a subject. This is what he was made to do.
One day I walked into class and took my normal seat at the front of the room (this was also the first class EVER that I willingly sat at the front of the room). He handed me a piece of paper – a copy of an old news article. All he said was “Thought you might like this.” and walked away. To this day, I’m not sure how he knew the story of Richard and Mildred Loving would affect me so much, but he was right. Not only is it a beautiful story, it’s a reminder of Dr. Broussard and how important he was to my development as a student, an ally, an activist, and a human being.
I wasn’t super close to Dr. Broussard, I didn’t go visit him during office hours or really stay in contact with him after I left but I am so incredibly thankful for his passion and his gift of teaching. Not only that, I’m thankful for his intuition – for knowing how much this beautiful love story would mean to me.
I’m begging you to take a few moments to read a little about my favorite love story. There are tons of great reads online, but I think this one is particularly good. Read and remember that this was only 47 years ago. Less than fifty years ago, interracial marriage was illegal.