This essay feels very familiar. You should read it all — but this section in particular struck me:
It’s hard to write “I don’t know.” I just read an interview with Spike Lee in this week’s New York Magazine that was sort of a retrospective of “Do The Right Thing.” His comment about critics who ripped the movie apart was telling: he was criticized because he didn’t have an “answer to racism” at the end of the film. Because, you know, a movie could do that. And if you’re so smart, Mr. Smarty Pants, smart enough to make this whole movie with all these complex characters, then how come you’re not smart enough to have an answer at the end?
I’ve found that most of the people participating in various parts of this discussion at the intersection of race, gender, queer, identity and radical politics just don’t have The Answers, and each of the camps are frustrated with others for was feels like an unwillingness to explore answers, to stumble and make mistakes (and have other camps accept them) along the way. Some folks are broken, tired, sick of building bridges out to people like me and beyond– and with this, I can sympathize, and I cannot fault them.
Too often, I have expected other women to have The Answers.
When feminists and women of color have criticized white feminists, I’ve expected Answers. I’ve wanted to ask, “So I get that you don’t like this, but what do you want to happen?” or “So what do you want me to do?” I’ve gotten frustrated when no one offered solutions beyond “recognize your own privilege” and “just stop being shitty.” I’ve read through comment threads where other certainly well-intentioned white people have asked things like, “I get that you want to abolish the prison system, but what do you want in its place?” and “Calling the police is an expression of privilege? So what should I do instead?”
I’m also not able to answer those questions, or a whole lot of other questions about what a truly equitable world would look like. I’m not able to find a solution to everything, even if I can identify a problem. But it never occurred to me that maybe the entire premise of the questions was unfair. It never occurred to me that asking them in the first place, and expecting an immediate answer, is problematic in its own right.