I saw a woman I met in a program I bought post a reel this morning using a trending sound to essentially say she doesn’t talk politics. I immediately wanted to put my palm to my face and shook my head.
I’ve seen this many times or heard many white women make the statement that they don’t get into politics. They say it with this air of superiority and fake politeness because they don’t realize two very important things:
- That statement told me everything I need to know about your political beliefs.
Thinking making a statement like “I don’t talk politics” means you’ve avoided discussing politics actually gives you away. It tells me you’re not secure in your beliefs, it tells me you spend little time understanding what’s going on around you because you live a very privileged life and couldn’t care less about what happens to other people. It tells me you don’t even understand what’s affecting you and that leads me to number two….
- You have yet to unpack the patriarchal and white supremacist conditioning that has taught you that being apolitical or not discussing politics is a virtue.
It is a passed down idea that we should not speak of politics, that’s unbecoming. Why? We’ve been taught it’s uncomfortable and being in discomfort is not something we white people are used to. We’re not taught to have the mental fortitude or wherewithal to handle it. Men often become violently angry when placed in discomfort and asked to challenge their beliefs whereas women, we cry, break down and look for someone (men) to save us. By now most of us have heard the term white woman tears. Well, this is part of it. We use them as a weapon to show we’ve been hurt and to gain sympathy for the injustice of having to deal with our beliefs.
We are conditioned from a young age to believe that discomfort is bad. We’re taught to smile, be polite, be pleasing, and to see the male figures in our lives as these all-knowing authority figures we should follow. For those of us that reject the idea that men should have more power in the world than us we still don’t reject the idea that men are all-knowing. Not at all because what we do is try to emulate them, especially in business. Seriously, if I hear the phrase boss babe one more time I’ll throw up! It’s disgusting and I hate it because it still plays into this mentality that to be successful, we need to emulate the very toxic practices handed down by white supremacy and patriarchy. The whole idea of professionalism is based on that and while I could go into it here, that’s a whole other article!
Not discussing politics is an offshoot of what learned growing up. We witnessed our parents do it and yet if you grew up with a father or father figure, I bet you remember at least once when they got enraged by something they saw or read in the news. They went off about it at dinner or at some point in the home but what about when it came to being out in public? Well, they would be quiet, saying they don’t like to get into things like that. Moms or mother figures would become uncomfortable at any bit of discussion, whether it be in or out of the home. My mother who said she was very much a card-carrying democrat still never seemed to discuss politics with my stepdad. Given my mom was a narcissist I don’t have much good from her, but I do remember a few private moments of discussing abortion rights. But in front of him? Nope, I never witnessed those discussions.
My dad who is a pacifist and leans left, more and more so as he’s aged and learned also wouldn’t talk politics. He’s one of those white men who post insurrection felt a shift. He was already left leaning and starting to do some more education on systemic racism. He was always anti-racist, especially given our family history with the holocaust and he’d been involved in protesting since the Kent State Massacre, but he wouldn’t discuss his political views or speak up when his very Trump-leaning friends made ignorant, racist, and bigoted comments. He’d sit quietly while they spouted off before the insurrection. After he just gets up and walks away so there’s still no challenge to the ideas. I asked once why he could still be friends with them which upset him. The response was that he’d been friends with them since college and you can be friends with different views than you and still see the good in them. I wanted to respond with something like “well different views vs racism and bigotry are very different things and by not speaking up you tell them it’s acceptable to say that shit”. But I didn’t, not because I didn’t want to get political. Because I understood what was going on. We were at very different points in our journey and he’s not ready to cross that threshold yet. I, on the other hand, never really understood why you wouldn’t speak up about your beliefs if you actually believe them. I’m that comes from feeling separate and not super connected to my parents fully. With my mom, I didn’t feel connected at all and my dad only somewhat, but I also had some underlying resentment towards him for not protecting me from the abuse I went through as a kid. So, it led to me being more and more open about my beliefs as I grew up and then as I aged.
What I realized about all this though is that the real problem is the beliefs. Those of us that don’t talk or get into politics on some level know our beliefs are socially unacceptable or we don’t wanna rock the boat with family or friends because we fear losing them. I get that, it’s hard to lose connection to others when we are creatures who thrive on connection. But isn’t that all part of the problem? As white people, we see change as a loss, not a gain. We see it as better to stay in our bubble, not make waves, and not challenge our beliefs because going against that means loss. We’ve never experienced loss the same way other groups of people have. We’ve never experienced the loss of rights the way others have (up till roe v wade was overturned), the loss of love for coming out, or the loss of humanity for being differently abled. We’ve never experienced that level of loss and on some level, we see the loss others experience and we want no part of it. What we have yet to fully understand is that if we open ourselves to the loss of beliefs and people who we may love but hold very oppressive beliefs we can influence and create a gain. We can influence the gain of equity for others and create relationships with people who genuinely align and match us.
Yes, this benefits us too, but we’re used to things benefiting us, we’ve just never been taught to consider the possibility of something truly benefiting everyone as a wonderful thing. That’s the whole point of patriarchy and white supremacy, to keep our thinking small and not see the bigger picture or the gain for everyone by challenging those systems. So, when we refuse to get political, we refuse to challenge ourselves to see that maybe, just maybe there’s something better on the other side. That may be better friends, partners, newfound family, careers, ways of living, and thinking on a personal level and on a broader level that would mean more rights, liberties, resources, and freedoms. But none of that is possible till we get over the discomfort and fear of loss and ask the question “what would be gained if I got political and questioned what I’ve been taught?”