(Don’t cause a fuss
Don’t cause of fuss
Don’t put the spotlight on any of us
Don’t assert your rights
Don’t stake your claim
What ever you do don’t remind them we are all the same)
Oh do sit on the the seat
That wasn’t yours take
Do dismiss those with skin darker than yours
Who care about what you say
Oh do use your priviledge
Stamp it underfoot
Because you are better (of course) than the rest of us
So you didn’t realise?
Oh sorry, poor you.
You didn’t see see the one who was equal to you
Are you sorry?
Are you fuck
You’re just lucky they don’t want to cause a fuss.
Oh I was angry on Saturday, and out came this angry poem. What I witnessed wasn’t overt racism, rather what I saw went back way before I, my husband and his friends were born to the experiences of their parents. I felt angry for them, I felt angry about my own prejudices nurtured by a council-housed white-skinned Geordie childhood, and I felt angry about the middle class middle aged white group of people who thought it was entirely appropriate to steal my friend’s seat at a small festival were were at.
I am sure they didn’t look at the seat and think to themselves, there is a brown-skinned person, I deserve the seat more than them. I am sure they would have been horrified if their actions were considered to have racist overtones, but to me, it was the undertones that I could sense. Those undertones being the subtle vibrations that have emanated from a history of supremacy and imperialism that still exist within us today.
I have spent the last twenty years studying and working with subtle energy. To do this, I have had to do lot of work to tune out the usual noise, to hone another sense – a sixth, seventh even eighth sense. In some cases this means I have had the most beautiful and magical experiences connecting with beings of pure love; and it has also meant that, in the days before I really knew what I was doing, that I have experienced the absolute opposite. What I experienced on Saturday was somewhere in between.
The exchange was wordless. A common experience for anyone at a non-allocated seat gathering, the concern about losing your place, someone pushing in on your space, nicking your spot. We guard our territory with a fierce politeness, sharpening the elbows where necessary, affirming our possession of the area with
“I am sorry, this seat is taken” through grinding teeth. And then when we take our eyes of that spot for a second some stealthy interloper has laid their claim. You snooze you lose right?
At this point we have a choice. Ok, some of us have a choice. We can take our seat back or let it go. And there’s the thing. Some of have a choice. Some of us did not grow up with the messages from their parents of “Don’t cause of fuss”. Some of us grew up being told the “world is yours, take what you want, this is your land” And some grew up with messages of “Keep your head down, do as your told so they don’t send us back” Imagine that, those of you whose parents were born here, and their parents, and their parents. Imagine those subtle daily messages in words and deeds of needing to be careful in case you are forced to leave your home. And for some this meant going back to land at war, where you are on the losing side of a desperately unfair fight.
Being the only one in the group that didn’t have these childhood messages folded within me, I wanted to get the seat back. I wanted to go up to these oblivious, privileged people and say “That seat wasn’t yours to take, and you know it. Give it back” but I was persuaded not to, because, of course, no-one wanted to cause a fuss.
I felt it all then. This exchange, on the surface, a pointless potential scuffle about a seat, energetically felt so much meaningful to me. I wanted to cry, for all parents who felt that was the best chance they could give their children in case we, the people that already lived on this piece of land, sent them back, was to tell them to stay in the background. I was never taught this during Equal Opportunities and Diversity workshops in my days of HR, instead we focused on direct and indirect discrimination, obvious open and shut cases and the standardisation of everything. (If everyone is offered the same, everything will be equal) No-one mentioned history, the power of narrative and something, which thankfully now is starting to be tackled, our own unconscious bias. Our own obliviousness.
We have so much to learn. The dynamic that exist in the people around us is much more complex and embedded than we think. I for one am still learning. Those subtle vibrations from the history of my ancestors are still present, and as I tune in, I learn to understand them and start let them go.