It’s Not Your Fault

We need to chat. About capitalism, ecologic destruction, white supremacy, racism, sexism, patriarchy, homophobia, and transphobia. We need to discuss something important in relationship to all of those nasty things. And that important thing is this – it is not your fault that you were born into a world that is structured around all those things.

Don’t blame yourself that you have to find a way to live among all those things. It’s not your fault. You have to live so do the best you can in a screwed up world. That’s not your fault.

However, what is your fault is your response to those things. You didn’t create any of those things. You may have benefited from some or even all of them, even if you’d rather not have benefited from them. (That’s what privilege is – you didn’t ask for it, maybe didn’t even want it, but you got it anyway.) It’s not your fault if you possess some kinds of privilege, but your response to that possession is your fault.

You can only control you. You can’t make the world behave differently. You can’t make other people be good, nice, kind, or responsible.

So you’re white and you have white privilege (yes you do, even if you’re homeless and receiving government aid) – what do you do? You use your privilege to tear down the system that gave you that privilege.

You’re cisgender? Tear down transphobia. You’re straight? Tear down homophobia. You’re male? Tear down sexism and objectification of women, and ridicule of gender non-conforming people.

In short, it is your fault if you don’t take a stand. Nobody is saying you’re responsible for slavery. Nobody is blaming you. But you did benefit from slavery if you’re white, even if nobody in your family owned slaves. The question is, what are you going to do about it? Are you just going to sit there and take advantage of a system that exploited others to lift whites above other people? Or are you going to fight to level that system so that someday the color of our skin doesn’t determine our innate worth?

So, it’s not your fault, white person. It’s not your fault, straight person. It’s not your fault, cisgender person.

But what is your responsibility is how you react to all of that. And that is what marginalized people are calling out when they call you out.

Own your responsibilities. Try to be a better human being. Own your privileges then use those privileges to fight for justice for all. Because if you do not, and you just passively allow oppression to continue, well that, my friend, is entirely your fault.

2 thoughts on “It’s Not Your Fault

  1. Excellent point. I’m a bit proud to say that I recently came out to about 150 family, friends, acquaintances, and colleagues, that I am trans and am seriously considering starting a low-dose HRT regimen as part of my exploration and, probably, a first step toward transition.

    More importantly – I think – I wrote the following to them: “…the information [here] is less about me and more about providing an example that to be transgender is simply an example of normal human diversity. As I wrote below I believe that we need to be prepared for casual “dinner table conversations” and hope that, coming from me, this email helps.”

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