by Sara Vipond Brink
Dear Black Women,
I’m a white woman. I’m not a respected commentator, or a public figure, or a leader in a movement. I neither have authority nor do I represent anyone beyond myself. In fact, I’m not representative of the majority of white women who just made the stunningly misogynistic decision to vote a sexual predator into the presidency. But it’s been nearly two weeks since the election, and I have not seen one white woman publicly take responsibility for the damage we just did to you, even though I’ve seen many of you publicly point out our silence. I’ve never seen any white woman apologize directly for any of the damage we’ve ever done you.
I am so sorry about the results of this election. I’m sorry because it was a reactionary, puerile, practically automated response from white people to the brilliance of the leadership on display from you for the last few years – while not at all denying that we made terrible, informed, autonomous decisions. I’m sorry because you and your families continually face violent repression and death when we throw unjustifiable tantrums like this. I’m sorry that the weaknesses of white people are so deeply ingrained that we’ve been doing this to your people for longer than “White” has been a legal racial category.
I’m sorry that white women have yet again turned our backs on you and Indigenous women and Latinx women and all of our sisters of color for the demonstrably false protections of whiteness. I’m sorry that white women spent the majority of this campaign exerting negative pressure on you in ways that you’ve repeatedly pointed out are condescending and unproductive, and now we’re inventing ways to pin the blame on you after reality slapped us in the face. I’m sorry we don’t take responsibility for our bad decisions. I’m sorry we don’t listen to you.
If my apology has any value to you, that’s great. I have no expectations for this letter, however. I just wanted someone – anyone – to say it. You deserve, frankly, every bit of our humility, shame, abject apologies, and full reparations from America for the last five hundred years of oppression. I know that so little of that has ever been freely offered that the sum of all of white people’s best intentions and actions (including this letter) still results in statistical insignificance.
The only way America will ever become a country of equality is if we focus our work on supporting and uplifting you and ensuring the welfare of your children. Any other strategy is at least partly rooted in the narcissism and laziness that is the foundation of violent patriarchal white supremacist capitalism. We have othered you, and therefore ourselves, for too long to do anything besides beg for your grace to bring us back into the fold.
Black women are guiding lights for all of us in this self-imposed-by-everyone-but-you darkness. The heritage you bear and the roles you’ve resolutely stepped into make you some of the strongest people in this country. I see it. I see you. If anyone knows a remedy for this country’s self-inflicted wounds, if anyone is going to show us how to navigate rough seas, if anyone has the ability to create a just society, it’s you. It’s the elders. It’s the girls and the young women. It’s the women who are at an age where they’re establishing their presence and power. It’s lesbian, bi, queer, and trans women. It’s trans men and androgynes. It’s those who don’t know they can do it yet, and it’s those who know full well of what they are capable. It’s Indigenous women and Latinx women and all women of color, because the battles with patriarchy, colonialism, and anti-blackness weave through all of your stories. All of you inspire me to be better, do better, keep learning, and work harder.
And no other white woman has my consent to cosign this letter because these are my words to you. Anyone who feels similarly to how I do could and should be loudly proclaiming their sentiments and taking a stand themselves, especially right now. While there are at least a handful of other white women I’m able to work with, we know the work well enough to know that white women at large just spectacularly demonstrated that we can’t be trusted. If we want trust now, we have to work harder than we ever have, all the while acknowledging that we may never earn it. That’s only fair.
I will fight the white nationalist cheetoh con man and his curiosity cabinet of pathological anthrophobes however I can because it is objectively, logically, and morally the only right thing to do. I’ll use the coming weeks, months, and years to do what’s in my power to resist, but right now I want to say:
I’m sorry. I love you. I got you.
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