Bedtime Fiction

(CW - mentions of racism and privilege, as the character comes to terms with an uncomfortable truth about their life)

I know when I’m tired by the feeling in my bones, and my eyes. It feels like my whole body is chafed, irritated and aching all at the same time. I know I need to sleep. It's 3.18 am and I know I will be exhausted tomorrow. But I also know that I need to know everything that everyone is saying about me. Why, you ask? 

Because it is important to know how people see me after what happened last weekend. I need to know how their opinions have changed after what I said. Stretching my toes, I know that I should leave it there. Let the trolls stay up all night pondering why I said what I said and what rock I will crawl out of next. But I know that I won’t, I can’t. I am like a cat who has found the scent of a mouse. I need to know what will be said next. 

I didn’t mean to be racist. I really didn’t. Well, at least I think I didn’t. Maybe that’s the point? Trying not to be racist rather than just not being racist. It's almost like when your mom tells you to be nice, so you act nicely but would you have been nice without her prompt? Probably not. 

I still think that ‘racist’ is a strong word for the views I have. Views I thought anyone would have had if they came from where I come from. No wait, not views. Opinions. I can be swayed. I am have an open mind, I am open and invite discussion and debates. I can't think of a time right now, but I certainly wouldn't turn down an opportunity! look at the work I have done saving the rainforest. that involved a lot of difficult conversations.

....am I actually openminded? 

I now no longer need to scroll, I simply refresh my feed and there's another one. I hold my breath as I open the comments, the meme itself could be mildly entertaining if its subject wasn’t my humiliation. Still, I suppose it is the most accurate to what actually happened. 

I never wanted to speak in public, I was asked - no requested. As the second oldest woman in our family still working, I was told it was a great honour to represent the women of my family. So, like everything I try to do, I wanted to make our family proud, to make myself proud and to inspire the younger women in our troop. I also wanted to give a nod to our ancestors. The women and men who took on this land and made us the family we are. Wealthy. Intelligent. Independent. I am grateful to them.  

How was I to know that I was being live streamed onto Facebook? Would it have made a difference to what I said? No, probably not but at least I would have had a say in the matter. 

That is the real problem of this age. Consent. 

We must ask for it for everything, yet when it matters, we don’t. People don’t care about the impact their actions have on a person, as long as they have asked for consent first. 

But I did not consent to this.

Who would have thought my own family would have asked me to leave OUR family reunion after my speech? 

Yes, it is true that I do not have children and it is also true that I do not have any friends from different countries or creeds. Indeed, I live a sheltered life on this island. But, I still deserve some respect. Especially from those who came after me. After all, they all still profit from our hard work on the ranch. 

My god, someone has said I should burn in hell! The views of the clip have reached nearly 500,000, and that’s without including the shares and their views. Am I really that bad of a person that I should no longer exist? A tingle runs through my fingers and my eyes feel as though I am looking through a vortex tunnel. I NEED TO GET UP. I hate anxiety attacks. I know that it will not go away on its own. 

So I give up on sleeping. After all, what is the point in trying? Maybe I should put my version of the truth out there? My truth. Tell them my side. The public has only seen one side of the story. 

I am not a horrible person, I wanted to tell the story of our family to remind us of where we came from and how proud we should be of our heritage and family values. I am not a slave trader and I can’t help that my family were. I should not be held accountable for their actions, and if so, why has no one else been accosted like I have? 

Someone has commented on my privilege. What does that even mean? Well, despite my family’s wealth, I am not rich - not in the monetary sense. I shop at the local market, I don’t wear expensive shoes or clothes. I rarely go on vacations. What makes me privileged? What is white privilege? 

After a quick google, I watched a video explaining white privilege and I am shocked. But it still isn’t my experience. I haven’t taken a role destined for a person of colour. In fact, I never went to college or have a job, aside from our family ranching business. 

Sure, healthcare has never been hard for me to find, Dr Benson has always been available- she is such a dear! Admittedly, I can’t imagine what it would be like to not have her. Where can you find a good Dr, or Dentist? Ok. If the definition of my privilege is this, then I have no choice but to slightly concur. That is correct, I have privilege- but doesn’t everyone? 

The door creaks a little as I open it slowly, trying to be quiet. The sound of crashing waves in the distance brings me back to reality. After a few deep and intentional breaths, I remind myself of how much I have always loved it here. The combination of the salty fresh air and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore are the only sleeping tonic I have ever needed. Yet, how would my life be different without it? Ok, maybe in that respect, I also have some privilege. But that isn't down solely to my race, anyone could have found themselves in this position. If I was black and in this position, would I still have this privilege? 

I feel uncomfortable in thinking that in some ways I have had a head start in life. Something I had not chosen for myself, but that was provided to me because of when and where I was born and the people I have grown up around. My whole sense of self has been defined by the history of my family, and yet when I dig deep and think about what had to happen for this to be so, I can feel my body tensing. It feels as if my tonic has turned rancid. A bitter taste in my mouth has developed and I need to get rid of it. 

My mother always said that a good night's sleep solves all of life's problems. Perhaps she’s right, but I suspect in this respect, she is wrong. 

Turning off my phone, I crawl back into my soft and ever inviting bed. My sanctuary. I pull the cover over my body and look up at the blank ceiling thinking of those without this luxury. The homeless, the poor, the deprived. The weight of this thought makes me sink further into my mattress. I feel the weight of this realisation and feel ashamed that these thoughts had not crossed my mind before. maybe that is also the point? Sometimes we need a reality check to truly know who we are and where we’re heading in life. I have a feeling that this may have been mine. I know now that I need to change and I don’t know how, yet. But maybe I can start with an apology? 

Yes, tomorrow I will start there. 

Good night.

October 10, 2021 11:11

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