I'd love to say this has been an interesting week or so, but what does  "interesting" mean anymore? Honestly, I couldn't tell you. Nonetheless, the past several days have been eventful.
I'm not even sure where to begin this post. It's not for lack of starting points, but rather the opposite. What is even happening these days and weeks? Is this a revolution or a moment of the at-last uncomfortable?
Will we White people finally understand the inherent privilege in individualism, or will we be lulled back to sleep by another round of platitudes and incremental change that further cements the insidiousness of White supremacy? When society and the structures that undergird that society is intrinsically designed in opposition to you, individualism isn't luxury that you can afford or a risk that you can take. This concept is foreign to many White people and even may feel affronting. Hell, you may even accuse me of buying in too much to the liberal agenda.
If the latter is you, I'm not going to argue; you're lying to yourself, and I don't have time for it anymore.
I attended a Juneteenth march this past Saturday. It was a fucking party; our demonstration was a wake. While I didn't just find out about the day, which needs to be a national holiday, it was the first time that I had celebrated it in a meaningful way. However, why it was meaningful has a lot to do with the day prior.
I am an intern for my grad program at a day facility for adults with developmental disabilities. A majority of these people are Black, and all of them are profoundly beautiful. I'd created a lesson plan for my time with these people through the month, and my supervisor had edited that plan based on changing schedules. She had moved the lesson on Juneteenth into July; I moved it back to June 19.
My clients didn't know what Juneteenth was, nor did they know of its history. Yet, they thought the day's name was "Freedom Day," and it broke me.
I am White. There is no way that I do not classify as Caucasian. I'm not going to attempt to pull the diversity card here.
As a White person, I have no business teaching Black people about Juneteenth. I'm thankful that after our session, the larger group also received an abbreviated education on the history of the day. Yet, so many people were unaware of what the day was and its proper name; another person reiterated that they thought the day was "Freedom Day." I was undone again.
I am learning that working with these astounding humans is far more demanding than I ever imagined. Not because they are disabled, but because they challenge my unconscious assumptions every day—my ableism, privilege, and the limited view I hold of the functions of a therapist.
As a grad student and a UX Designer, these people—I'm coming to see—are shaping me profoundly. They are showing me that the way I approach my clients in both contexts, users, and people, in general, is based on a lot of faulty assumptions. I see that our world is inherently discriminatory from a lack of imagination and basic empathy.
I am stepping back from the individualism that the West has embraced so fervently since the Enlightenment, as I see it is rooted inextricably in White supremacy, predicated on privilege and benefitting from systemic racism. I understand that individualism assumes that the individual is not the target of said systems in my very being—which they are not in my case—yet, Whiteness has stacked these systems against too many people; one is honestly too many.
I, no. Juneteenth is a national holiday, and I'm distraught that it isn't one in 2020. This is all I have for you today, and that will have to be enough—I'm speaking to myself here. I love y'all, and I'll have more words soon, I promise.