Our bodies are racist

My brain injury gave me a lot of anxiety.
This earring or this earring or this earring or this earring?!?
If I don’t tell you my thought now I’ll forget it in 3 minutes!
My brain is so tired that it can’t divert my body from its natural reactions to things
I jump at quick stops in the car, or recoil at gross looking things,
or tense at a black man walking in the street behind me.
Some things my body learned to fear in this life.
Moldy milk looks gross and tastes gross.
No black man has ever stolen my wallet or knifed me.
My parents never told me to watch out for black men doing that.
My body is a slave owner scared of rebellion,
a white pastor scared of the Black Panthers,
a white storeowner scared of rioters.
Before my injury I knew these histories live in my body
I told it different stories to treasure.
Now that my brain has less energy for treasuring, my body is more racist.
But I have so many black friends!

I get white power, I get that we reproduce white culture to keep our power.
I get that our racist lies keep people who take our power in prison.
Whites to Blacks in my life who own guns: 40 to 1.
Whites to Blacks in my life who kill things: 40 to 0.
Whites to Blacks who shot people in movies I’ve watched: 700 to 20.
Whites to Blacks who were gang members in movies I’ve watched: 200 to 15.
Whites to Blacks who did drugs in movies I’ve watched: 300 to 10.
Whites to Blacks who did constructive things in healthy communities in movies I’ve watched: 3,000 to 10 (all of them with white people).
Whites doing positive or negative things: 3,000 or 1200.
Blacks doing positive or negative things: 10 or 45.
So yes, proportional image matters.
My brother was one of the only white boys in his high school who didn’t own a gun.
Ask anyone what skin color they picture when you say “Guns. Gangs. Drugs.”
Ask any cop.
Hands of predators find guns fastest when surrounded by prey competing for the predator position

But if I understand all of this,
if I get racism,
why is my body still racist?
I’m not just acting out the survival instincts of my ancestor’s genetics
I’m plugging into my generation’s instincts
I’ve learned to protect what I was socialized to most fear losing,
Whether or not I actually agree with these fears individually.
What are we scared of losing?

It’s ok if you don’t feel like you belong, you own some shit, so you’re a person who deserves
It’s ok if you don’t feel cool now, soon you will have done lots of cool things. The future perfect tense is the best home for smart cool types.
Masculinity is so stable, women deserve equality cuz they do masculinity even better than men
Pain sucks but it sucks less if we join the mission to eradicate it
We can recreate the garden of Eden!
Because God is OK with the fucked up things we do as long as we’re really really sorry
Everyone is just like us or really wants to be, cuz our freedom is awesome!
Or if they’re different, they can teach us so much. Like how to dance and how to meditate.
Saying “no” is easy because we don’t have everything; something is always short
It’s ok, we have such prosperity
We get something for nothing all the time cuz we deserve it

we’re not scared black people are gonna take these things
we’re not scared of losing them TO black people.
We’re scared of losing their meaning.
Black people have been threatening that since Africa.
We’re scared we’d have to find new meaning and we have no idea how.
What’s it like to create meaning whose underlying purpose isn’t to justify violence?
Meaning that makes us happy, rather than coping?
Meaning that creates life, rather than stealing it?
We’re gonna need our bodies
They have some new survival instincts to learn


Published by kris gebhard

Kris (pronouns they/them) is a clinical psychologist, poet, percussionist, and gardener currently residing in Chicago, IL.

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