"You can't move mountains by whispering at them." ~ Pink
I love this analogy of moving mountains, and I'd like to be a lifetime mountain mover. I LOVE this quote because it challenges me to remember to use my voice, a tool I have right here in my very own body. Moving mountains sounds a lot like moving huge, heavy ideas that are settled on a huge heavy foundation. It's a lot of work. But these foundations of white supremacy that have woven themselves into the very concept of "being a good person" are the reasons we WHISPER... "It's not polite to be too political!" "These things will never change, don't waste your time trying to teach these old boys new tricks - little girl." So many of us are trained to whisper through the consistent disapproval of our voices when we speak out against horrible realities like racism, sexism, hate crimes... "Don't sound so angry... No one wants to listen to angry women."
But... If we are safe to move beyond that disapproval and use our strong voices, first there will be rumbles... Then maybe there will be shifts. It won’t feel comfortable. Feel this. That is the key. Get to the discomfort and feel it. Only by being willing to feel difficult feelings can we connect with the collective pain. Feel that too. When we connect with and understand the suffering of others, and when that hurt breaks our hearts... That’s when mountains really start moving. That’s when we feel connected and committed. That’s when we don’t have any choice but to sing our truths. And if we live in a body that is statistically much safer to live in (a straight white cisgendered body usually) then we can sing and shout for those living in bodies that make them less safe in this world, and working together we can move some of the mountains that have buried the voices of some of our fellow humans.
I speak from the experience of living as a white woman in Utah my entire life, and being a voice of change - but not too loud or rowdy of a voice, for heaven's sake... Sharing stories about inequality to my fellow white community members - with a lens of calmness and rationality, lest I look like a crazy, angry woman... Attempting to share that people living in Black and Brown bodies deserve the same dignity, respect and rights as white folks. But I feel like I am politely whispering, "please change your mind... pretty please with a delightful smile and a cherry on top," because admittedly, I am censoring my own deeply felt emotions to fit into the calm, polite structure around me. No more.
So I challenge those of you out there who feel a twinge of familiarity with my experience to start using your louder voices. We can start locally, right in our own communities and shed lights on those areas where white supremacy has trickled into the hearts of our community spirit itself. We can start by letting our neighbor know we won't be listening to their racist rants (again). We can speak up in meetings where sexist and racist jokes boom - and where they are received with a celebration. And we can speak very loudly when white supremacy is taught to the children through textbooks, religious lessons and organized extracurricular activities. Let's smash that veil of protection that our politeness and whispering has helped to maintain. Smash these tricky little lies every single day - as loudly as we can. It will really disrupt the power hierarchy when enough polite voices become loud enough to cause actual accountability and change in not tolerating discrimination.
If booming loudly is not in your nature, there are many other ways to disrupt white-supremacy-disguised-as-politeness. Reading, learning, writing emails to your senators, voting, donating regularly to organizations that help Black and Indigenous People of Color, writing, politely declining invitations to parties or events where you know racism and racist jokes are condoned. Whatever you can do to disrupt the normalization of racism is a good place to start. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. But let's keep going in the direction of true change and radical human compassion one step at a time.