This might be my most vulnerable writing ever. While I consider myself a brave person when it comes to matters of the heart, this one feels really difficult to share. I wasn’t wanting to ever share this with anyone, and I know I don't have to, but something inside of me is pushing and that’s usually my indication that God is at work. So, as I share this, I just ask that you be tender with me - that you remember throughout this that I am human, and doing the best I can, just like you.
I am white. I am a white, educated woman. I am a white, educated, female social worker and mother. I attended an all-women, liberal arts college. I am bipartisan. I vote. I have privilege in every way possible outside of being a woman. I cried tears of joy when gay marriage was legalized in Minnesota. I cried (and still cry) tears of sadness when I think about children being separated from their families. I usually keep it to myself, or to my small circle that I know feels similarly. However, I often feel that I don’t know everything and don’t have a place to say much. But, I do have something to say now. Because the words, “Go back to where you came from” rip open a wound so deep within me, it’s gaping now.
In college, I worked as a server at restaurant. I worked alongside people who were in very similar situations as me, and also those who were not. We were all working to do what was best for ourselves and/or our families. We worked hard. Really hard. And we all got along, most of the time. However, one evening, we were slammed. Stress and chaos seemed to be the name of the game that night - mistakes were being made by servers and cooks - tables were left unattended for too long, there wasn’t enough communication between staff about who had what section, and who was taking what tables. In the middle of it all, a pattern began to arise with one of the servers, Manuel. He started taking tables that weren’t in his section. And almost as quickly as I noticed the pattern, I got really angry. I kept going about my shift, busting my butt with everyone else, when I saw it happen again - this time in my section. I decided to confront him. In a chaotic passing, I quite rudely said, “Stop taking the tables that aren’t yours, Manuel!” He said, “They need water, I’m helping”. But I didn’t listen - certain I knew what was going on, I said, “Oh yeah, you’re helping by taking other people’s tables and tips?” He got angry and our encounter escalated quickly. I can’t remember what exactly his next comment was, but it felt personal and insulting (ironically). Thats when my anger hit maximum rage and like vomit, the words, “Oh, Manuel, just go back to where you came from” spewed onto him. We were both frozen there, wide eyed. Him stunned in a pain I will never understand. Me, in complete shock that I had those thoughts inside of me. He walked away. We went about our shift. We never spoke of it again. We mostly avoided each other and only talked when necessary during a shift for 2 more years. I vowed to myself that night of the incident, that I would find that buried hatred and challenge it. That I would choose discomfort and the unknown over myself, every time I could. But, I’ve never spoken about this to anyone.
I think it’s time I finally face my privilege more directly. More honestly, beyond my own little circle. It’s time I own that I have been a part of spreading hatred in this world. I knew it the second the words left my lips, and I know it just as clearly now. We all experience hatred. We all experience conditioning. We all experience biases. But, I think that for those of us who experience privilege, the experience is the same. We don’t have to see it and we don’t have to own it because THAT’S WHAT PRIVILEGE IS. But, what we do with our privilege is what can be different. So, this is me, being human. Being a human woman. A human woman of privilege. An educated, human woman of privilege. That will vote. That will use my impact, however small or large it may be, for good. For love. For beauty and kindness. And for equality with my sisters, brothers, neighbors, friends, coworkers, and fellow humans. And, hoping that you will join me by doing the same.