Two separate but oddly similar issues have been converging for me recently. The whole #YesAllWomen and #NotAllMen internet storm has been amazing to watch, though I haven’t had much to add to the conversation. I’ve loved seeing my friends share their stories, and seeing people struggle (and often succeed) to explain exactly why #YesAllWomen is important.
I wondered, though, how many men (nice men, men who really are #NotAllMen) were convinced. I wondered… until I realized that the lesson was one that I needed to absorb as well.
Gentrification is a very tender, but resonant, subject for me. About a year ago, Oakland Local (who still does great posts on the subject) and the Bold Italic ran an opinion series the topic, and I went back and forth on whether to add my own voice to the mix. In fact, there’s a blog post titled “Nothing New to Add to the Conversation” in my drafts, never published.
I realized this week that it’s more than the fact that I had nothing new to add — it was that my place in this debate is to listen, not to convince you that #NotAllWhiteWomen are gentrifiers. I had so many “buts” — but I was born in Oakland, but I was displaced myself, but I’m poorer than most of my neighbors, but, but, but…
Doesn’t matter. I’m still a white lady living in a historically black neighborhood, one that struggles with poverty and crime. I’m the privileged one in this situation, and I need to swallow all my “but”s and just listen. Just like #NotAllMen need to. Recognize your privilege, witness the pain on the other side, and speak only when spoken to. Or, you know, if you have to speak, do so without hijacking the conversation (like quietly on your own little blog where only your sister and one stranger in Ohio will see it 🙂 ).