It is Dec. 21, 2020: winter solstice, the symbolic death and rebirth of the sun. As we transition to shorter days and longer nights, this time holds powerful energy for regeneration, renewal and self-reflection.
So I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked that a sign of today’s troubled times finally walked its way to my doorstep on today of all days.
When I saw a man with his mask in hand instead of on face approaching dangerously close to me and my children, I asked him to socially distance or put his mask on. What followed was an altercation wherein he called me ‘Karen’, a term now synonymous with privileged out-of-control white women, raging inappropriately.
Clearly this was an ignorant comment from an ignorant person. There’s nothing privileged about wanting to keep yourself and your family safe from a very real threat, a global pandemic currently setting Los Angeles on fire as one of the nation’s hotspots. Young, old, white, black, rich, poor – no one wants to get sick, and anyone might have acted as I did. I might have shrugged this incident off with a chuckle, if it weren’t for the fact that I’m ruminating on how it’s been 46 years and this is the first time I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of an unjust slur.
That in itself puts me in a position of privilege. However, I believe we are doing society a disservice by carrying on a legacy of derogatory comments based solely on skin color, gender, and appearance.
Gloria Steinem has famously said that the Karen tag is sexist and misguided.
Calling out bad behavior is one thing, attaching it to skin color and gender is another. For when a racial slur or sexist comment is made, it is an attempt to shame and silence – not just the immediate recipient, but the entire group falling under the slur’s umbrella.
It bears repeating: when a racial slur or sexist comment is made, it is an attempt to shame and silence.
In my bodywork practice, (that I have been away from for so long now,) I hear many clients complain of feelings of loneliness and isolation. More people than you would imagine – in fact, people you wouldn’t expect to feel this way or perhaps you don’t think are justified feeling this way – feel different, excluded, & shamed, and often it is a very subtle message they are receiving. This year especially has been filled with things that attempt to divide us. Labels are just another way to do so.
I can’t possibly know what it’s like to live in America as a black woman or a gay man or any other derivation of sexual identity or skin color, and it would be ridiculous of me to say otherwise. I’m just humbly living in the skin I’m in, but as such it’s not ridiculous for me to learn, to evolve, and to try to model changes I wish to see in society. It is not ridiculous to stand in solidarity with those who endure a struggle far more pervasive and entrenched than mine. It is not ridiculous to expect at minimum we learn to respect the inherent worth of our fellow human travelers, and frame disagreements in this light.
Today I was reminded that words have tremendous power, and words that are used to shame, silence, or divide (however humorous or harmless you think they are) have no place in a peaceful, tolerant society.
Today happens to be winter solstice. Let us take the opportunity to reject divisive modes of thinking, divisive behaviors, divisive labels -and instead work towards healing and unification.
What else are we here for, if not to learn and evolve, to help each other, to finally understand we are all connected?
I will be doing so as a middle-aged white woman, unapologetically.
#Wintersolstice #2020 #Karen #Unity #AllOne #Equality