On the morning of 12.6.2020 as I was scrolling facebook I bumped in to a heated conversation that a white friend of mine was having on his wall with around ten other white persons. They were ranting and dismissing something that I thought was supportive and respecting this process of racial equality. I decided to join the conversation and bring in my point of view. As I was writing I started to fear that someone would pick an argument with me. That what if they dismiss and ridicule my thoughts, witch I feel would be too much at this point. What if I freeze and my brain wouldn’t work well. I feel like a leaf in the wind. All my energy goes into processing the feelings and experiences that have come up since George Floyd was killed and this worldwide talk about inequality started. All I could do was delete that guy form my facebook friends. Also I was scared to write him a private message, even though I really wanted. I was confused about my behaviour witch I felt was unfair. Fair would have been telling him how I felt and go through a constructive conversation. Not leave with a push of a button. I’ve always acted in a open, straight and honest manner. Now I am not myself. Lately I’ve mostly been stagnant.
I see many conversations in social media that baffle and hurt. I see white friends that I would have never thought to have any racist thoughts in them, speaking in a racist, ignorant or somewhat inconsiderate way. I’ve been in a weird inner crossfire. I would like to react and respond, but at the same time I don’t want to expose myself more than I am. This conversation is already literally on my skin. To myself I have thought and wished that those who don’t have the want, courage or capacity in this time to act antiracist, I wish they would rather be quiet. That they would Imagine how it could feel if they were treated the same way as black and brown people. Would that be ok? That they would listen and take time to educate themselves on these matters and look where it all leads. That they would give space. Instead of bringing into focus things that don’t support the change towards an equal world. That they would allow this long needed, long wished and long awaited tidal wave to do its cleaning and healing mission. But of course everyone is acting through the context of their own experience and need. Everything has to come up into the surface, so we can finally have permanent change.
I wonder how white people can argue and belittle amongst themselves something that focuses strait with the oppressed status of black and brown people. Subjugation and inequality that has continued hundreds of years. Why mess, interfere and resist something that doesn’t actually hurt them personally. Or maybe it hurts. I don’t know, as I don’t live in a white privileged body and I haven’t had the guts to go through with these conversations. I’ve only spoken with close people that I feel safe with. Seems like people don’t believe that Finland is racist. People explain and belittle. They are cross as a result of this conversation about inequality. Irritated about the transparency and uncomfortable feelings that the movement of change is provoking in them.
About a week ago I had a conversation with one of my closest friends who assumed that I have experienced racism long ago in my childhood. She had know idea what it is like to live in Finland today as a person of colour even though her best friend is brown. It didn’t help that few years ago she came to see a performance me and my friends did called Noble Savage – that addressed structural racism. She didn’t realise her own white privilege, or the structural racism that affects me. Now I’ve noticed the same thing in many of the conversations that I’ve had. My white friends and relatives don’t know. They have not payed attention to the matter and they haven’t asked me about my experiences regarding racism. We have never had this conversation. Strange right?
Little over a week ago I got to experience something new. White friend of mine wrote an antiracist post on social media and her words created a massive emotional storm within me. I cried and couldn’t stop. Something that had been pushed down for decades came into the surface. For my astonishment and horror I realised that this was my first experience where a white friend notices, whiteness and addresses that I live in a unequal position compared to her. I called her and let my tears be heard. When she said “ Amira I see now that we are in different boats and I am so sorry about this. I cry with you!” My sobbing just got bigger. It was a outburst of relief. Relief because someone saw and witnessed instead of pressing down and dismissing. That the experience of unworthiness and pain that I have experienced and experience became seen and witnessed. We need a loving witness to our feelings so we can become visible.
The fact that people are now demonstrating around the world is empowering, supporting and exhilarating. At the same time this thing that we are now processing as humanity worldwide has been very challenging. Because of all this love – my body is releasing lots of emotions that I have suppressed for years. Hate, unworthiness, disappointment, loneliness, sadness and fear. All the things I didn’t want to see, things I was scared to admit and be aware of. Feelings that I didn’t have space for. Countless times I’ve been in a situation where my friends have criticised the anger that has come up in me because of the way I’ve been treated. I am asked repeatedly (tree times last week) to understand the innocent and ignorant othering behaviour of white people. Now because of the support that I have been getting, I’ve had the guts to react without shame. I have had the courage to yell to my friends “ defend me!”, “understand me!”. I’ve said “why do you defend that behaviour and not me?, Im the one who is your friend!”
I have understood clumsy, unsuitable, unaware and childish behaviour all my life. I’ve had to because otherwise I would have gone crazy. As an intelligent person I see and understand where this kind of behaviour comes from but I have limits too. If no-one reacts to civilised conversation and nothing changes, one has no other way but to make themselves small, leave ones body, disappear from cite or scream until someone hears. I don’t want this world continue as it has been anymore. Time is up.
At the moment I feel that I’m not alone with this experience anymore and the conversation has started with a bang. But at the same time it has made my experience of inequality more real and visible than ever. I am deeply grateful for this process that we are now experiencing together. This is for the grater good of all and I trust it will go well. Now I just have to have the courage to sit with the feelings and sensations that I have neglected and take my attention into my heart that is my greatest asset. I dream of a reality where there are no more certain assumptions directed on my brown body and where I don’t experience inequality based on my skin color.