I have been slowly but surely working through Wild Mystic Woman’s Instagram challenge. I am on day 15 of 28 days which began for me on July 18, almost exactly two weeks after Layla Saad began offering this important work. She has asked that no one new who has not made it past Day 8 join the challenge at this time. She will be publishing this work in a work book that you can complete on your own schedule in the near future which I am looking forward to purchasing when it becomes available. Meanwhile I am finishing up the challenge here, and would value the opportunity to take some of these reflections into offline conversations with you.
Day 15: Me & White Apathy
I have been apathetic towards my role in racism by not beginning this challenge when I first came across it on day 3 or 4 back in June. I thought that I was too busy and that by following others doing the work that was enough until I had more time. Not having time is such a slippery method of white apathy. We all dont have the time to do everything we would like to do, yet we make decisions that effect what our priorities are – family, work, education, volunteering, etc. I realized that if I didn’t make time for this important work there would never be time. However I am forgetting it again already. 15 days into the challenge and my white apathy is creeping back in. The last 7 prompts were a lot of ugly work. They made me feel physically and emotionally sick. And sure enough when the work got hard, and the social rewards of sharing my writing went away, that apathy crept back in. Maybe it would be ok to just leave the work. I’ve done enough for now. I can pick it up again later when I “have more time”.
My white apathy also disguises itself as self care. I dont have time/energy to do the writing today because I need to rest to prepare for X. Yet I continue to avoid the root problems of my over scheduling complex and instead throw BIPOC under the bus in order to “rest”. The other word for this behaviour is laziness. Rest is radical, but there is nothing radical about laziness. Laziness is undermining my will power to address the root problems that allow racism to flourish in my life.
I have been apathetic towards racism when talking to my family. Because their racism is so blatant to me, and yet they are frequently kind and generous towards me, then they must just be putting on a show. Something they learned on Fox News. How dangerous can they actually be? Is a dangerous apathetic thought I have had.
I also see white apathy in my creative communities when there is little interest in learning about a social issue or another culture until we are working on a piece related to it. Our attention is only as long as our contract is paying us to care, or as long as we can take credit for “learning” from others work while repeating it into our own voice. “All artists steal from each other” but I observe that not all artists are rewarded equally for their theft.
I also see white apathy in my yoga communities that are only interested in how these poses or these chants can serve to simplify beautify our own life without paying mind to where these teachings came from, how we got here, or who is benefiting from the “teachings” we are consuming. The apathy here results in lazy uses of bite sized teachings that loose a more nuanced understanding of the human condition, and work as a shield against anyone that would ask us to reflect deeper.
I see this kind of white apathy in my white feminist circles. That are all for diversity as long as you agree with me, hate the same men I hate, and promise to reassure me I am one of the good ones. The apathy to talk about the issues that aren’t most pressing to you personally. The apathy to learn about the intersections of issues that do not personally effect us.
I practice white apathy when I block a racist friend, or skip the comment section, or ignore a white centering thing my friend says in conversation “because it’s just not worth it”. Its not worth it to me because I can choose to look away from the impacts of racism, and I can protect my own sense of white superiority while doing it.