Hi everyone, the weather is finally nice in Seattle, so I want to finish this blog post quickly and take my kids to the playground. They are growing up fast, and I know there will come a day when they will stop asking me to take them to the playground. Apologies in advance if this post is not as eloquent or have as many citations as might be expected of this topic.
If you’re in fundraising and on social media, chances are you’ve been following this situation. I am so grateful for all the colleagues who are calling out problematic behaviors, asking for our sector to be better, to be more aligned with equity and justice. Because, frankly, I am very tired. My friends at Community-Centric Fundraising and I did not ask to be dragged into this battle. We were all minding our own business. I was watching “Waffles and Mochi” with my kids, learning about how potatoes are cooked in a huatia.
I’m not the only one feeling drained. The past few years have been horrendous. And it doesn’t seem to end. I know everyone is tired. And racialized and marginalized communities are the most tired. We’re exhausted. I am speaking mainly as an Asian/person-of-color for this post, but from talking to my disabled, trans, LGBQIA+, WOC colleagues, we all need a break.
1.We need a break from having to think about white supremacy and injustice all the time. It’s pervasive. It’s everywhere. There’s no escape from it. So we have to think about it all the time, nonstop. The hypervigilance. The constant calculations of how to engage in conversations in a way that is the least taxing and least likely to provoke retaliation. We’ve gotten used to this form of cognition, to the point where we may not realize the toll it’s taking.
2.We need a break from educating people and dealing with their fragilities. The daily injustices on the national and international scenes are stress-inducing enough; to have to argue with our own colleagues, people we hope that years of attending workshops on, and reading about, equity, diversity, inclusion, etc., would lead them to know better by now, it’s just frustrating. I know it’s a journey, etc., but…sigh…
3.We need a break from having to prove ourselves over and over. Educating people on inequity and injustice is time-and-energy-consuming enough, but to have to constantly back up our direct, personal experience with data, research, citations to counter the mental gymnastics being done to deny it, is grueling.
4.We need a break from struggling to be heard: When we do engage, by writing an article, doing some spoken word poetry, tweeting out a message, promoting a mutual aid campaign, or whatever, we always wonder will people share, retweet, comment. We spend energy and pour our souls sometimes into crafting messages. And then we must use more energy getting others to pay attention, hoping they’ll care.
5.We need a break from having to keep our rage in check: Hearing about the daily injustice in the news, while simultaneously dealing with varying forms of aggressions in our work and social circles, we have to resist the urge to burn everything down, cuss out someone on social media, publish a scathing article that calls out a problematic board member by name, quit our jobs with no notice, or make a fancy drink and then drive to a sexist donor’s house and throw it in their face while standing masked and six feet away from them, etc. It takes a lot of self-control to not do those things.
6.And we also need a break from fighting to be seen as more than just victims and survivors of a brutal, oppressive system. One of the more subtle and insidious effects of systemic injustice is that it grinds down society’s perception of racialized and marginalized people as full human beings. We have multiple interests and talents. We are artists, cooks, parents, craft brewers, mixologists, actors, athletes, mechanics, scientists, jokesters. We can speak on things besides equity, racism, ableism, etc. But often even well-meaning people forget and force us into a box.
I talked to a Black friend who told me, “I don’t want to have to constantly fight with people about racism. I just want to play Animal Crossing New Horizons sometimes!” I visited her island, and it was amazing! It was nice, the two of us running around a world where the worst thing that could happen is being stung by a wasp and getting a puffy eye for a couple of minutes.
Meanwhile, a white colleague has been messaging me to check out how I’ve been doing with everything going on, which I appreciate. But interspersed throughout our conversation is our love of TV shows, such as Firefly, which was canceled too soon. These things may seem minor, but to just be able to think and talk about something other than injustice, white supremacy, fragility, etc., is freeing and much-needed.
Allies, which includes all of us, but especially white colleagues, thank you for giving Black, Indigenous, AAPI, Latinx, disabled people, neurodiverse people, LGBTQIA+ time and space to rest. You do this by being loud and vocal when you see injustice and inequity to save us from having to do it ourselves. You do this by amplifying our messages, letting us vent without judgement, and “collecting” your people when they’re being ridiculous. You do this by not expecting the people most affected by injustice to jump into every conversation, and by understanding that just because we’re silent on something doesn’t mean we don’t care.
You do this also by seeing people as more than just how we are defined by and against unjust systems, by remembering we are complex individuals containing multiple facets, by asking about our hopes and dreams and hobbies and what shenanigans our kids are up to and what makes us laugh and what TV shows we’re watching.
The physical, mental, and emotional energy required to deal with inequity on a daily basis has been a lot. Thanks for tagging into the ring when you can so people who are most affected by systemic injustice and white supremacy can rest and recharge. Don’t worry, we’re not going anywhere. After we take a little breather to play with our kids at the park or plant some hyacinths on our virtual island or watch several episodes of The Expanse, we’ll be back. Most of us have no choice.
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