Folio · 2017

White Narcissism

Maxwell Kee

Those summer days you longed to see, with hills diving outwards, covered with grass green like granny smith apple shavings thrown out and blown about by the breeze. You yearned for sand between your big pink toes, soft and silky smooth on the soles of feet worn from a hard day of working and struggling and protesting, last of which that’s grown so common these days. So badly did you wish to float in cool water that cradled your head and rocked your little white-privileged body back and forth, telling you that you’d done good; that you’d fought the good fight. That you did enough and that there was no more you could have done, absolutely nothing more you could have given. 

Wonderful work, Mr. Schindler. Bravo.
And it was a lie, wasn't it? One you shouted at your reflection in the mirror, trying to make yourself feel better about who you were, who you thought you were. What of your brothers and sisters out on the oceans? Vast fields of blue that consumed all those who fell in and were too weak to swim after running away from their war-torn homes. They suffered, and they’re suffering still. Why didn’t you join the peace corp or the lifeguards—you know how to swim for fuck’s sake.
What about your Muslim brothers and sisters at the airports who merely sought see their kids again, be in the arms of their families once more, get their mothers to a hospital so they could see the coming morning, their faces paintings of despair from crying so much and so hard? Why weren’t you at the airports that night with picket sign in hand and a voice to scream out within protest? ‘Cause you were comfy on your couch at home, that’s where you were, watching Parks and Rec, sipping on your cheap beer with your warm thoughts. Just another cozy night for you, huh chum?
Your gay and trans brothers and sisters, too–the ones who've always had your back, taken you in, kept you warm, built you up when you thought you were nothing–you gonna forget about them too? You flew their flag and walked throughout their festival, but why not their parade? What, you too good for it, too anxious and scared? Think they weren’t anxious and scared when they were getting dragged out behind bars by a couple of insecure bigots and called fags while boots rained down them like hail? Get real with yourself—you’ve never thrown a fist, neither in the air nor in the face of ignorance, not for any of them.
And all your black sisters and brothers being gunned down in the streets and having their votes stolen at the ballot boxes, have you done them any justice? You did all that research, and for what–for you to do nothing about it? You went and saw Ta-Naheesi Coates speak and walked away thinking you understood everything about the cause, boy? Got a lot to learn, more than what a series of tenacious clickings on a keyboard are gonna teach you. You should have been marching alongside the rest when Adib Muhammad's body was torn to shreds by a series of malicious bullets fired into his fragile body from three different angles, violence sicced on him like a demon hungry for his young black soul. Was school more important then, writing poetry and editing papers so you could be a part of that bigger game someday? Trying to insight change in a classroom–how the hell you gonna do that when you're too afraid and complacent to get out in the streets, help bring change to your community with your community?
Your vision must be distorted, ‘cause I know you weren’t out there when the women started marching. Masses of your sisters accompanied swarms of your brothers and took to the streets to denounce a man who grabbed pussies, stole healthcare and made abortions dangerous again. Instead, you were imagining yourself basking in the rays of summer sunlight, soft and warm like a shirt fresh out the dryer. 
Your struggle is to learn how to struggle, while the rest's struggle is to learn how to stay alive. How not to die. How to tell their children it might not be okay when they wake up the next morning; that they might not make it to see the sun peek up over those mountains shrouded in all that pollution when they roll out of bed the next day.

And you know what, white boy? It’s okay. It's okay because its you telling yourself this, building all this up into a mountain just to tear yourself back down with it when anything goes wrong. All you have to do is relax and work. It's just work–simple and clean. Stop your frettin’, white boy, you’re getting there–this shit doesn’t happen overnight. They don’t hold it against you, either; most can see that you’re trying, to learn and to feel and to understand what they’ve been through. Remember that you didn’t choose your life, but you sure as hell reaped the benefits it came with; and its getting to be about time you got out there and used them.

So keep on fighting for your brothers and sisters while there’s still time, while there’s still a fight left to be had. Read their stories, write their experiences, learn their histories, as well as your own. Forgive yourself. Don’t forget your skin, but remember that it doesn't define you–your actions do. Get out there and fight for your people, help anyone and everyone who needs help, and give as much as you can in anyway for those who are unable to do so for themselves.
And, little revolutionary: when all of it gets rough and the shit starts to hit the fan, take a deep breath, a sip of that cheep beer that tastes like a wet dog, and just remember–
summer’s coming.

Folio · 2017