An Open Letter to My Sisters

Dear black women,

I’m sorry. I’m so very sorry. We, white women, have failed you time and time again. Callously, coldly, aggressively, insidiously. We have allowed you and asked for you to protect and defend us in a sisterly bond that we’ve not reciprocated. We’ve used you to amplify our own voices, while tone-policing yours. We’ve abused, maligned, and marginalized you for centuries. We’ve excluded you while demanding to be included. We’ve pink pussy hatted your struggles into oblivion. We’ve wronged you in ways that can never be repaired.

I’m sorry. 

We have taken large platforms for ourselves, screaming about our own pain, and encouraging other white women to do the same. We never explicitly say that’s what we’re doing, but our actions show the truth. We allow white women who’ve been traumatized to be angry, defensive, cold, emotional, vulnerable. We do this and say, “This is the trauma speaking.” But we don’t allow you the same courtesy. When your soul wails in agony, we call you angry. We call you “ratchet” or “ghetto”. We tone-police you. We dispute your claims, and we disbelieve you. We use our stories and our experiences and our skewed perspectives to discredit you, to minimize, or erase entirely, your pain and trauma.  We ask for your truth, and then we invalidate that which you give.

I’m sorry.

We have screamed about solidarity among women, and demanded that you stand up and use your voices and activism for us, all the while, telling you to wait your turn to be able to tell your own stories. We’ve minimized the power you have because we’re insecure and weak and mean and childish and self-centered. We share your experiences only if they benefit us directly.

I’m sorry.

We have an expectation of innocence for our daughters, while disallowing that same innocence for yours. We hyper-sexualize you, either implicitly or explicitly. We ignore when you tell us quite directly that you are survivors and you have a story that deserves to be heard. We put you behind us and catch the spotlight, but use you as shields when the stones are being hurled our way. We remove your humanity, and have the audacity to become defensive and angry when you ask us to please stop doing so.

I’m sorry.

We provoke you and then play the victim when you respond appropriately to said provocation.  We allow others to hurt you, and sit silently and idly, forcing you to stand on your own against men and women, both. We minimize your mental and physical health, and spiritual wellbeing, at the expense of our own. We allow your wounds to bleed, ignore your agony, in order to be spared the most mild discomfort that comes with honest self assessment. Our needs have consistently been prioritized and centered, all the while, mandating your support, and then stepping on your necks.

I’m sorry.

We’ve demonized you, villainized you, in order to guarantee that we come out on top, smelling of sunshine and flowers, rather than the manure that we’ve produced. We invade your personal space, both literally and figuratively, to take away any hopes you may have had to try to build something for yourselves. We have demanded inclusion, while excluding you. We’ve failed to protect you at literally every turn. We’ve used you as a sacrificial lamb. You pain has been monetized, for our profit.

I’m sorry.

We have allowed, and in some cases, encouraged, the worsening of your pain and trauma. We’ve categorized you as always being not enough, or way too much. We’ve forced you to alter your behaviors to satisfy the white gaze. We’ve mocked you, your words, your intellect, your bodies, your beauty. We’ve stolen so much from you. We’ve done everything we can to break you, and when you remain fortified, strong, powerful, beautiful…when you survive, we admonish you for the ways in which you choose to cope with our abuse and neglect.

I’m sorry.

This is by no means an exhaustive accounting for our crimes against you, our sisters, our fellow travelers on this planet. This isn’t asking for forgiveness, as it is certain that we don’t deserve that mercy from you. This isn’t a justification or set of excuses. This is nothing more than me saying we are wrong, we’ve been doing you wrong, I see you, and I am so remarkably sorry. You deserve better. You deserve humanity, at the very least; solidarity, support, and vocal, active defense. You deserve love and hope and kindness. You deserve more than we will ever be able to repay.

My sisters, I love you, and I. Am. Sorry.

 

**Written with the help and perspective of many people, including Twitter users @MegBChillin and @GameKween.**

 

 

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