what has to happen first, but not yet

i have been embracing my angry white girl for the last couple of months and it is awesome.  it’s so nice to rediscover anger as a healthy and powerful expression.  after being raised in dominant, white culture, which creates anger as a thing of right and wrong, a thing of accusation and guilt, a thing to be avoided at all costs, it is so nice to break through all that bullshit and realize that, actually, anger is a legitimate and vital emotional response.  and something that should be expressed.  and it’s all very nuanced.  because we’ve turned anger into a violence, when it doesn’t have to be.

tonight i had a long and complex conversation with my lover paxus about my recent re-activaiton around anti racist and other anti oppression work coinciding with my enthusiastic expression of anger.  the example we were working off of was my calling whomever puts up the ghetto hikes website an asshole, and engaging friends of mine who are reposting that site and calling them out for perpetuating that sort of racist bullshit.  he argued that my use of name calling is potentially off putting and distracting from my point.  that those i am engaging with may very well run away from any conversation if i use inflammatory language.  i understood what he was saying and totally anticipate this response from the vast majority of the people i engage with in this way, because that used to be my response to anger.  and i am no longer willing to take that on.  because i am no longer working in the paradigm of guilt and accusation and i think it is an act of self love to express my anger when i am experiencing it.  and i am intentional in my use of anger, i am doing lots of work to make sure i am not expressing emotionally manipulative anger.  that is the kind of anger i grew up with and i hate it.  and i am convinced you can express a clean, genuine anger.

but people do shit that makes me angry and i am going to react to that.  if the people i’m engaging with are more comfortable bulwarking themselves with guilt and shame instead of opening themselves to the source of my anger and examining that, then i dont know how to engage with them.  if they are stuck in the paradigm that my anger means they’ve done something that makes them bad or guilty, i dont know how to meet them anymore.  i only see three options for how to engage in these situations: one) censor my own anger in order to keep them comfortable; two) have a long and intentional process with them about anger, about how we both experience it and healing their relationship with anger, before having any deep conversations about our own perpetuation of oppression; or three) allowing myself my anger reaction and allowing them their defensive response and risking shutting the conversation down.  i feel unwilling to choose the first option, overwhelmed by the enormity of the second and so i find myself risking the third.  and right now that feels right for me.  it feels good to heal my relationship with anger, navigate how and when i express it, and fall into the arms of people who can handle it and not worry about other peoples reaction to my anger.

and i think i’ll get to the other side of this phase.  i think i just need to take the time to savor my healed relationship with anger.  and it makes me want to work with more people on anger.  not, maybe, on a one on one basis, but in a workshop setting.  or something group like.  to take this on as an important part of many people’s healing process, and as a step towards being able to do more real and daring anti oppression work with more people.  because ultimately, i’m going to want to push people in this work and i want to do it in ways that work.  i am eagerly searching partners in this work.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. paxus
    Mar 12, 2012 @ 12:58:55

    This is an area where i feel like you are ahead of me. My most often retreat to anger is coming from a place of fear and anger is a tool to help protect me. I am rarely able to access it from this clean place you are advocating here, instead it is defensive and legalistic in an effort to prove my points.

    i dont think think this is a phase for you. [in my never humble opinion] i think you will continue to be angry, because there is lots of be angry about and you are certainly not shying from the work.


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