Living my life as authentically as I can.

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I write about what I see, feel, live and you are welcome to share the experience as I share them.

Everyone is Shit So What The Fuck Are We Going To Do?

Everyone is Shit So What The Fuck Are We Going To Do?

This is going to be complicated. You’ve been warned.

The Hierarchy

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When you are part of an oppressed group, you don’t have a lot of people fighting with you. When you have multiple identifiers that are oppressed, you have even less people fighting with you. So few, that you often find yourself aligning with people who support one aspect of your identity while oppressing another. In a society built on dehumanizing people based on a social hierarchy, the less you identify with the accepted norm, the less acceptable you are.

In America’s social hierarchy, white, male, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, wealthy, christian, non-fat people are considered the elite. People who check all these boxes are the ones centered, catered to, and most respected in our culture. People determine how much respect you deserve based on how many of those boxes you can check off and it is an ugly aspect of our society. American culture is also exploitative, which means, when coupled with that social hierarchy, the fewer characteristics you have in common with the elite means the easier it is to use, abuse, and discard you. As such, if you are not part of the elite, you are a tool to be used by the elite, and the middle ground is you finding the tools you can use in your quest to become closer to the elite.

We do not see each other as human. We see each other as tools to improve our circumstances. That is our normal and our normal is completely fucked up.

Our view of each other’s humanity is couched in the value we add to the society, to the culture. We objectify ourselves and each other as we try to figure out how to navigate a society that has told us we are worthless unless we contribute something. Those of us lower in the hierarchy are conditioned to believe we have more to prove, that we need to work more and harder to prove that we have a place here. And we see this type of dehumanization used in almost every aspect of our lives. We constantly speak of ourselves and others as worthy, or expendable, or valuable. Our society is completely transactional, and we barter pieces of ourselves as currency…and it is always apparent to those who are more oppressed that our value is consistently less and that directly contributes to our ability to survive.

The System

Navigating a society that bases its survival on exploiting humanity makes living complicated because everyone is complicit simply by living. It’s an interesting thing in that the better off you are economically, the farther away you are from the people you are exploiting while simultaneously you become more openly exploitative. This is an interesting cycle we see in various areas of our society. For example, you start working for a company in a call center. You know that your labor is the driving force for this company and that your work is undervalued. Then, you get promoted and it becomes your job to supervise people in the position you once occupied. Suddenly the rules look different to you, especially as you no longer need to follow them as closely. Now the rules you once rebelled against become necessary to maintain order. Then, you get promoted to upper management, where you learn that you can increase profit by cutting salaries, the same salary you knew barely covered expenses when you were in the call center. But an increase in profits translates into an increase in wages for you, not to mention, senior management wants this. So, you go along with it, becoming more and more openly complicit while lying to yourself about the harm you’re doing. Because this is how the system works. This is how you move ahead. This is what success looks like, and if you don’t do it, someone else will so why suffer when it won’t change anything. You escape immediate harm by cosigning on doing harm to others and so the cycle continues.

We struggle with accepting our role in this system. I understand why. It is an intensely painful and lonely place to know that you are constantly contributing to the pain of others. It is terrifying to realize that the cellphone you use to read this essay was built using the ore gather by Black children in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We hate learning that the deal we got on that shirt we love was a deal because of the people exploited to make it. It’s hard to admit that companies we patronize simultaneously undermine the U.S. economy while exploiting poverty in other countries when they move jobs overseas all in the name of profit. As much as we complain about the accents of people in call centers or the rise of automated customer service lines, we still do business with these companies, despite the economic impact of these decisions. Everything we touch is tainted. Everything. Because America is rotten at its core and it feels impossible to change it.

The Personal

I constantly find myself navigating lesser evils and having to take the good with the bad. I struggle with trying to figure out what good is too contaminated for me to overlook. This came up with Bill Cosby. It’s come up with AfroPunk. It’s a constant question in geek culture. Every national holiday is a problematic shitfest that typically celebrate monsters like Christopher Columbus, including Kwanzaa, whose creator is a monster. I sometimes feel guilty and defensive of my white S.O. because it represents a form of anti-Blackness that is ridiculous to deny. I find myself holding Black people to a higher standard than white people, which is often interpreted as a form of anti-Blackness – this expectation of more from Black people than anyone else. But I’m finding that this is only true if I’m using whiteness as a barometer in ascertaining my needs and my safety. Because while I expect less than nothing from white people, as they are next level abusers with zero interest in evolving (why evolve when you believe you’re at the top of the food chain), I do look to other Black people for community. I look to other Black people for safety. I look to other Black people to keep fighting an impossible war and that’s fucked up on every level.

Anti-Blackness is global. You can look at virtually every culture and see how darker skin people are excised from society. That South America is predominantly dark-skin but you never see us in their media. That there are still holidays using racist caricatures of Black people and the blackface conversation never seems to end as white people continue to insist they are the authority on racism. The anti-Blackness among Black people stings the most because I keep learning that we aren’t all in the same fight, but sometimes I gotta fight alongside people who will become my enemy the moment I center my Black womxnhood in the discussion. I see it when any Black person deviates from the elite identity of “white,” male, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, wealthy, christian, and non-fat. At every fucking intersection is the potential to find yourself squaring off, because we look for intersections where we gain power and don’t want to concern ourselves with who it exploits and harms.

Every decision I make is rooted in what is the most productive while doing the least damage because I also see myself as a tool and I want to do the least destruction while being used in this human meat grinder known as capitalist patriarchal white supremacy. It’s how I can say “white people are trash” while having a white significant other who cares for my emotional and physical health while I say it. It’s how I can use his privilege for access to certain things, knowing that it’s ultimately toxic for me. It’s how I go to work or log into Facebook, knowing that all my output is used to maintain this bullshit power structure, even if it’s only as a permanent member of the american underclass as, contrary to popular belief, nothing transcends race.

We call these issues political to distance ourselves from the people they impact. We distance ourselves from the real-time trauma we give and receive, both to ourselves and others by telling ourselves that it’s the system...that it’s the power, when really it’s the people. It’s us. We all allow this kind of harm on some level, but how it benefits us depends on our rung in the social hierarchy. When your literal survival depends on how well you navigate this sea of bullshit, I cannot help but see you differently from someone who isn’t fighting to survive but does the same fuckshit. It’s double fucked up that any attempt to hold white people accountable for this system they created and maintain is met with potentially fatal resistance. And, let’s be real, white people aren’t going to fight to uproot their own power.

So where does that leave me? Where does that leave us? In this self-perpetuating cycle of harm, both self-perpetuated and externally enforced, how do we improve? How do we even begin to fix shit?

I try to be honest with myself and my actions. It fucking sucks but how can I change anything if I don’t recognize my role in it? So, I own my fuckery and sit it front and center in my life.

This is depressing, so I have a therapist. I visit her regularly. I work on building a support network of people who are doing similar, if not identical types of self-examination and reflection.

I read the work of other people and I continually expose myself to the experiences of others without trying to insert myself into their struggle. I fail sometimes…but that’s fine cuz I learn from that, too.

And I write. I write all the fucking time. Sometimes it’s just notes. Sometimes it’s blurbs on Facebook or Twitter. Sometimes it’s in a notebook never to be seen and other times it’s an essay or two or three as I try to sort my thoughts.

I accept that I am figuring this shit out and that I probably never will. But I will try. I will keep trying. I love learning and I can accept change. But ultimately, I don’t want to only take from this society. Nor do I only want to be used by it. I know I cannot control the fact that I am seen as a tool…that sometimes I see myself as a tool, but I can choose not to accept that as my only value and I can continue to make a conscious choice to subvert that.

I am here. I am engaged. I am invested. And I want this shit to be better. I want this shitty system to break and become something that serves those deemed the least of us instead of only the most ruthless of us.


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