It has come to my attention that Dylann Roof, that little prick who shot up a church in Charleston, is using me as his justification for his crimes. He’s using me, my sisters, and our maidenheads like some antebellum, Jim Crow era rationalization to burn Rosewood to the ground. This is some Emperor Palpatine-level bullshit. I do not need some hyped up jerkface to protect me from squat.
I did not grow up with many black kids. There were a few handfulls of black families in my town, but for the most part our diversity was comprised of Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Brazilians, Haitians, and Dominicans. Lots of Caribbean influence, lots of Central American. Some Black. Since leaving high school, I’ve met a wider field of people: I’ve met British, I’ve met Greeks, I’ve met Swedes, I’ve met Chinese. I’ve met Muslims, I’ve met Jews, I’ve met Rastas. I’ve met criminals, and I’ve met upstanding citizens. I’ve met farm-boys, and inner-city ballers. I’ve met friendly New Zealanders, and douchey Australians. I’ve met black girls who can’t stop touching my hair, and Ghanaian pastors who invite me to visit their churches. I’ve met vegan lesbians, and queer Persians, and trans men. I’m only thirty and I’ve had thousands of students and dozens of roommates from a great many walks of life. I have had many friends, people who will be my friends for life, and those who were well-needed friends for the time being. No friendship is superior or inferior to any other. I love all of my friends. My friends get to know me and understand who I am. They have my back if I ever need them to, and I theirs.
Recently, I went on a pseudo-blind date with a man I met on the Internet. My friend D—- encouraged me to go out with him and not to worry because he’d be there watching if I needed him. I laughed and told him I wouldn’t need him (and I didn’t) but his offering to be there just in case was appreciated. I can hold my own with a man. I know how to handle myself. There was a time when I didn’t. There was a time, when I was younger, when I didn’t know how to advocate for myself with men. I was inexperienced and unused to people trying to take advantage of me, and I found myself in an uncomfortable situation. He didn’t ask me if he could touch me. He didn’t ask me if he could do things to me. I was wise enough to push him away, and he was kind enough to stop, but the damage was done. I felt dirty and violated. By a white, mid-western boy.
In my experience, which isn’t singular or unique, I’ve been fucked over by white men. Almost exclusively. Black men, in my experience, have always had my back. I don’t feel as though I need any protection from Black Men. I don’t feel that I need any protection from White Men, for that matter. Same goes for Asian Men and American Indians and Caribbean Men. My vagina isn’t a thing I need a man to worry about. Women (all women) do not need a man to stand up and, on behalf of us all, make any decisions about our well-being. We most especially don’t need a man to murder anyone on our behalf. I will not take on that responsibility.
Far too often Women have been the justification for horrible acts. Not any specific woman, but Women, in general. As if we’re all in constant danger and we need the Menfolk to eliminate that danger so we can feel safe. Quite frankly, I feel less safe with a man who thinks that is a reasonable argument. It is as twisted as the man who shot women on his college campus because other women wouldn’t have sex with him. Women are not some abstract concept that can be invoked as a rallying cry. We’re not “Democracy”, or “Freedom”, or “God”, or other terrible reasons to justify killing other people: we are people. We are individuals. We each have a unique point of view and our own opinions. If Dylann Roof had asked a woman if she felt unsafe from the “threat of Black Men” he would have known better than to use Women as one of his reasons for shooting innocent people. Rather than invoking the concept of Women (alongside the notion that Black People have “taken over” the country), he should have just stood behind his unreasonable hatred. It’s no better a reason, but it’s honest.
I refuse to be someone’s rallying cry. I refuse to be someone’s concept. I am a white woman, I am not a White Woman. You may not capitalize those words and do horrendous things because of me. I love all of my friends. I love all people. I do not accept the burden of Dylann Roof’s crimes. His unchecked hate led him to shoot people, not my sisters, my mother, my nieces, or my friends, and certainly not me. Do not use me as your excuse to kill black people.
My prayers are with the Charleston community today. My love for them abounds. I pray to God to give them strength and compassion. I also pray that people everywhere stop seeing women as a concept, stop using us for their own purposes, and start seeing women as people. So many times I’ve read the questions: why do we focus on race? And, Why do we need feminism? Because, my dear, there are those out there who still don’t see us.