Elizabeth Gilbert is the extremely Caucasian author of a 2006 memoir which wild horses couldn’t drag me to read (‘Eat, Pray, Love‘) but, putting my irrational reading prejudices aside, her white girl guilt did usefully serve to push this social-media Luddite to the hashtag campaign #ShareTheMicNow which in turn introduced me to Brittney Cooper, who reads from her 2018 book Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower both eloquently and rage-eously. I expected to bristle, because that’s what happens when somebody heaps shit on you, but I did not. Not that Cooper wants my privileged white male approval, but she is due some thanks for finally answering the question that a lot of us (privileged white males) privately ask: What can we do to help?
Apparently the answer is: Talk to other privileged white males. Have difficult conversations about prejudice and privilege, for a start, and don’t lead with your chin. And once we’re done fixing the race problem, get to work on sexism okay? I’m not so sure about the rest of her advice — forego an opportunity if by doing so it would flow to a black person. Smacks of patriarchy to me. Tokenism, well-meant or otherwise, hasn’t exactly benefitted the Aboriginal Australian population, the most incarcerated peoples on Earth. The only system I want to inhabit is a world where we reap what we sow, but that’s presuming the playing field is level for everyone. Which it ain’t.
Seems like we need to roll up our sleeves and get about it. Being a better person is not about ‘white saviourism’, a new term for me, which mimics my reaction to celebrity philanthropism — don’t tell the world (Oprah) every time you dig a well in Rwanda. Just do it. Join the fight without insisting other people notice, and don’t hog the limelight. Nothing shits me more than all the curating. The Instagrammabilty of their faux (or even genuine) rage. The point about anger shouldn’t be that it gives you a chance to show the world you’re angry. It’s not 2015 anymore peeps, we all understand virtue-signalling is odious. I don’t even like typing the words, they’re so dank.
Anyway, highly recommended. There are dozens of ways you could waste 51 minutes, this isn’t one of them.