The Luxury of Forgetting

On December 2nd, 2014, I called my boss at Ruby Tuesday’s and told him I had been sexually assaulted by a member of the staff. He promised me that someone from corporate would call me as I cried, my hand tightly wound in that of my best friend’s, and he wished me luck. Seven months later, I called corporate myself.

I spoke to a woman named Chris and she brought about one of the most hurtful moments I had ever experienced. I explained who I was, how I was assaulted, everything – and all she would say was that it was not the company’s fault. Nearing tears, I asked her why she hadn’t called me the week of the assault and Chris said, “Someone should’ve been in touch. I would’ve called, but I forgot.”

She forgot one of the most terrible moments of my life, something that continues to haunt me to this day. I asked her how that luxury felt, having the space to drop someone’s trauma at the door, and she had no answer. How could she?

I was reminded of that feeling this past week. I was discussing the Black Lives Matter movement, arguing with people who refuse to acknowledge the systematic oppression that faces black Americans, and all the sudden I wanted to stop. For a second, I wanted to forget. It made me nauseous and anxious and I wanted a reprieve.

All at once, I felt disgusted by myself. I had the luxury of forgetting and I knew how much easier it would be. For a moment, I wanted it. But how could I?

I heard Chris’ harsh voice grating in my ear, saying she forgot to call, and I wanted to cry. I couldn’t be that person. I can’t be a useful comrade to this movement without paying this price – a price that, as a white woman, is so much less costly than that of the black community. If I was less of a person, I could drop their struggles at the door and refuse to speak, refuse to use my privilege to act, refuse and refuse and refuse.

But I would hate myself for being a passive participant. I would hate myself for standing by while others were in pain. I can’t do it.

Here’s what I’m reading in the hopes that I’ll be a more useful member of the movement. I highly suggest that white people read along with me. There’s so much work to do.

From the brilliant cartoonist at Check him out!

Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves

If we do not help make a difference, we are a part of the problem.

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