Brave Goose

IMG_4866He sat in the front seat of the rickety golf cart. “This your first time to the Goose?”

I swear, his white beard was past the nipple line.

“Yes,” we tittered. My knuckles were tensing around the seat.

“Well spread your wings and let the Holy Spirit make you fly!” He lifted an arm out of the cart for emphasis. I worried the cart would tip, that we’d splatter on the trodden dirt of the campground.

But that was about all the conversation we had time for in our ride to the check-in booth, my friend Erin and i. She was speaking, i was entourage-ing, and we were both nervously anticipating our first time at the Wild Goose Festival in the mountains of NC.

A lime green wrist band later, we plopped down in two rickety white fold-out chairs at “the River” tent. We learned, from J Yoder and Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, that “safe space” is often used as a tool of white supremacy for white folks to legitimize the right to say whatever they want. Because, you know, it’s “safe” and anything that threatens our safety – even when it’s being called out for violent words – is therefore not acceptable in safe space. So, they sought to create brave spaces, spaces where we could speak boldly, without rules, save one: it’s okay to be uncomfortable. In fact, it is encouraged.

There was no better place to begin my wings-out-of-the-golf-cart day.

Yoder emphasized, particularly as a white person, that dismantling our privilege as white people is not about reaching some clean-cut finish line where we get handed buttons that say, “Congrats! You’re Not Racist!” The desire to have such a clean-cut thing is itself a product of white supremacy: something controllable, something comfortable, and something easily labeled. Rather, the point of white people engaging in anti-racism is to learn to be okay with discomfort. 

I thought about my own struggle with this blog in the past few months.

There hasn’t been much on here, but that’s not because i haven’t been writing. I’ve just been too apprehensive to hit that blue “publish” button. All that i could think to write about – all that i could do when i looked at the cursed cursor blinking on my screen, was why we assume white is so default we create black letters on a white screen and call it normal. The brutal attack on all sides against black people in this country has left me wordless and woe-filled. But i didn’t want to spill my grief here and take up more air space with this cisgendered white woman’s tears. This was partly a genuine desire to assume a posture of listening, of repentance, rather than speech and proclamation. And partly a real and healthy hesitation to put things on the internet when they are still too raw to talk about in person.

If i’m honest, though, it was also out of fear of being wrong.

I wanted a safe space, where my vulnerable words would be protected by our mutual code of comfort. Instead, i needed to be pushed into a brave space. A brave space where i can say both to my white siblings that we are all complicit in what Dylan Roof did by virtue of our silence, and i can say to my siblings of color that, as much as i can know them, your woes are my woes.

There’s a lot more i’m thinking, and processing, from “the Goose” this weekend. And i’m hopeful i’ll be brave enough to write about that here. Tonight, though, as the clock ticks towards twelve and i can’t sleep for fear of cowardice, i’m going to hit publish and try to be okay with not being comfortable with that.

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