Priv­i­lege, Trump and signs of sol­i­dar­ity

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

By PA­TRICK SAUN­DERS psaun­ders@the­

Be­cause ev­ery month is White His­tory Month. There, now that we have that out of the way...

I didn’t start ex­plor­ing the con­cept of white priv­i­lege un­til about six or seven years ago. Know­ing what I know now, that’s em­bar­rass­ing to ad­mit, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing how peo­ple of color are un­for­tu­nately forced to learn about it through ex­pe­ri­ence as chil­dren.

I had heard the term be­fore, but never had a con­ver­sa­tion with any­one about it be­yond that. There wasn’t one par­tic­u­lar in­ci­dent that made me grasp it, just like there’s never re­ally one time that you come out of the closet.

Of course, when I did start look­ing into it, it was painfully clear that it’s not so much a con­cept as an iron­clad fact of life. The irony is that the fact I could spend that much time on this Earth with­out hav­ing to ex­plore white priv­i­lege is, in it­self, an ex­am­ple of white priv­i­lege.

Priv­i­lege ex­tends be­yond race of course, into male priv­i­lege, cis­gen­der priv­i­lege and more. And dif­fer­ent ex­am­ples pop up all the time, good ex­am­ples that need to be voiced and pointed out in or­der for those who ex­pe­ri­ence such priv­i­lege to learn and rec­og­nize the ex­pe­ri­ences of oth­ers.

One such ex­am­ple was pointed out to me last week­end at the photo shoot for this is­sue’s cover. I re­cently found out about “Signs of Sol­i­dar­ity,” a lo­cal art project with the goal of de­nounc­ing hate and en­cour­ag­ing unity (can’t for the life of me won­der who in­spired that). Over 30 At­lanta artists, po­ets and mu­si­cians painted mas­sive ban­ners with var­i­ous mes­sages of love and har­mony and hung them all over the city.

One ban­ner hung at Ria’s Blue­bird caught my eye and I fig­ured it would be great to have a cou­ple em­brac­ing or kiss­ing next to it as the cover of our Sex & Dat­ing/Valen­tine’s is­sue. Only prob­lem? All of the ban­ners had been taken down since it was only a four­day project. So I tracked down the artists, Ge­orge and Kristy Gomez, the hus­ban­dand-wife team be­hind de­sign and com­mu­ni­ca­tions shop SOAP Goods Creative. They had the ban­ner and would be thrilled to have it be part of the shoot.

I was lucky to then con­nect with Kayin and Car­los Ma­lik-Ma­cosay, who were go­ing to be our cover cou­ple. We met at The Jane at Grant Park, hung the ban­ner and had a great shoot.

But it was the con­ver­sa­tion the five of us had af­ter­ward that stuck with me. It took place the day af­ter Pres­i­dent Trump is­sued his ex­ec­u­tive or­der ef­fec­tively ban­ning Mus­lims from en­ter­ing the US. Kayin is a gay, African-Amer­i­can man. His hus­band Car­los is a gay Mex­i­canAmer­i­can man. Ge­orge is a straight Do­mini­can and Ecuado­rian-Amer­i­can man. His wife Kristy is a queer, African-Amer­i­can woman. This white, gay man was feel­ing his priv­i­lege.

We had a con­ver­sa­tion about “Signs of Sol­i­dar­ity,” the ex­ec­u­tive or­der and what’s go­ing to have to hap­pen to get us through the next four to eight years. Af­ter voic­ing some of my own frus­tra­tion at what was hap­pen­ing, Kayin pointed out that if he made the same point to most white peo­ple, they would just view him as an an­gry black man. That doesn’t stop him from ad­vo­cat­ing of course. He’s a writer and an ac­tivist in­volved in the lo­cal Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment.

When peo­ple say dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties need to come to­gether, to join forces to fight in­jus­tice, it of­ten doesn’t stick. I think (hope?) this pres­i­dent has shaken peo­ple up enough to fol­low through this time.

One of the things that has to hap­pen to get through this is more con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple that don’t look like us, fol­lowed by lots more ac­tion. And the more that peo­ple rec­og­nize their own priv­i­lege, and their own bi­ases, the faster we’ll get to where we need to be.

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