week 10: comfort or justice

In September, 2016 I started a year-long personal challenge of doing something each week that I’d never done before then writing about it. This is week 10.


All [white supremacy] requires is for us to prioritize our comfort over justice.” -Ijeoma Oluo.

I watched this video by Ijeoma Oluo yesterday. And the above quote is the one that hit home. Comfort is such an easy choice, especially when almost everything in our consumer-driven culture is geared toward putting and keeping us there. Comfort is a powerful lure when we crave stability and safety, when anything/anyone new or strange becomes a source of fear. We want to hide in the echo chamber of the internet. We want to Netflix and chill. We’d rather fight each other over a cheap TV on Black Friday than stop for a second and ask, what the hell am I doing? And please, don’t even think about criticizing my car, my team, or my church.

If we aren’t willing to step out of our comfort zone on any of the above matters, I’m not sure how we’re going to step up and face white supremacy, the thing that feeds it all. Or rather, I should say, I’m not sure how I’m going to do it. Not yet. I’ve got so much to learn and every bit of it feels awkward and uneasy. Every bit of it seems filled with opportunities for failure. But my own awkwardness, my own personal failures feel less and less important as time goes on.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my comfort zone has been sustained, in part, by all the whiteness I’ve lived in and around my whole life. I’m not interested in moving out of Portland (though the reasons to keep growing), so I need to find other ways to expand the diversity of communities I interact with. It seems like the first necessary step.

This week I put up an offering on the Reparations facebook page. The woman who created it is a conceptual artist that created a project where POC can make requests and others (identifying as any race) can either answer the requests or make offerings of their own. The project has plenty of dismissive trolls, but to me it seemed like a simple and personal way to give some small thing to a community in need. In a time when taking care of ourselves can be a difficult but essential task, my skills can be of use. I made the offer, not out of guilt, but because these kind of connections feel like one way to get an immediate answer in a political and social system where larger change may come at a snail’s pace. I write about my offering here, not to toot my own horn but to share the reasoning behind it and encourage anybody else with something to offer (money, skills, time) to check out the Reparations page and see if there’s anything you can do.

I know most things can’t be so easily distilled, but sometimes it’s nice to have your question answered or to have an answer to someone else’s question. I need this. Here, have it. Do you want this? Yes, thank you.

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