I’m not sure where I’m going with this so bear with me…I just know I need to say something.
I’ll start here: I’m not white. Willows is a pen name I use for a multitude of reasons. I’m actually Mexican, and I have always been proud to be Latina.
The thing is, I look white. My dad is dark, my mom is pale. I got the pale blonde side. So, I’m actually mixed race, though I identify, and always have, as Mexican.
But because I look white there’s no question I’m a recipient of white privilege, and I’m well aware of that. I never have to worry about perception or death when I’m walking through a neighbourhood or when I get pulled over. I don’t live in fear and I can not fathom how terrifying it must be to let your black and brown kids leave the house every single damn morning.
Being mixed race in school meant I wasn’t white enough for the white families (especially in the rich neighbourhood we were in briefly) and it meant I wasn’t brown enough for the Latin families. Teachers expected less and I got called various racial slurs occasionally. I got beat up. But after I left school, I was just another white woman. Most people still can’t pronounce my surname, but then, few have to… Even people who know me and work with me often forget that I’m Latin at all. And I admit I feel guilty claiming it sometimes because I look white, but I’m also not going to deny my heritage; being mixed race comes with its own special carry-on baggage.
So, right now I’m thinking a lot about privilege and ethnicity and gender, all issues at the forefront right now as the world continues in its chaotic spin through the fires-plague-death hornet-sandstorm-trumpfire that is 2020.
I suppose I’ll just finish by saying this:
I believe people of colour have the right to be angry, to rage, to demand to be seen and heard, to explode in fury until things change. I believe in trans rights and refuse to enter into conversations with people who choose to think other people are less than or not deserving of rights—life is too short and I’m too busy to try and talk a maga or terf out of the ignorant swamp they choose to mire themselves in. I try to do what I can, where I can, to make the world better. I will fight in my own way and let other people fight their way—at least we’re all fighting. I hope we can respect one another’s way of fighting rather than pulling one another down for not fighting the same way—there’s enough to rail against without having to defend ourselves against people who also want equality and justice.
As writers I think we have the ability to create worlds of possibilities that show we as humans can do better. We can use our voices, our imaginations, our collective desire for better, to help spread ideas of better.