Search for Solidarity

I’ve been having a lot of trouble
Finding my place in all of this
I’m asking myself how I can help
But it keeps getting more complicated

I’m trying to figure out how
To support you however I can
Without pretending to know better,
To listen deeply to your experiences
But not demand that you educate me,
To share my vulnerability
Without invalidating yours,
To distinguish between instinct
And reality

I don’t feel all that safe right now
I’m losing hope as I watch the world
But I cling to resources and hope
And I search for an appropriate solidarity

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

“I feel like the more I learn, the less I know.” The political unrest in the country was highlighting a spirit of divisiveness that was causing this woman to feel hopeless. She had recently attended a conference on anti-racism that had ended early and abruptly because of triggers and trauma during the discussion. It was a disappointment because it heightened her sense of hopelessness about how divided people were. During the conference, people were asked to express their feelings, and she did so, but then felt hers were discounted as she was perceived as a privileged white woman crying about racism. Colleagues would share their experiences and ask everyone to listen, but when she said she wanted to listen and learn, they told her it wasn’t their job to educate her and she needed to educate herself. This was upsetting because she was not asking them to educate her; she was only trying to affirm her willingness to listen. She knew that it was an extremely traumatic topic for many people, and she wanted to do everything she could to combat racism, but she increasingly felt she couldn’t contribute meaningfully – that her support was not welcome. She always tried to be a respectful and mindful ally, but now it felt like she couldn’t do anything right.

Interviewee: Anonymous
Listener Poet: Elle Klassen

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