Hello, hello and welcome back. Tell me. How was it? Christmas? New Year? The whole shebang? If you are anything like me, you need the rest of January off to recover. So, settle in with a cuppa and take some time to chill, while I fill you in on exactly what this blog is all about.
As you know, if you have been following along, the last four months of 2020 were packed full of book launches, open-mic events, poetry headlining, new experiences, and a learning curve way steeper than a cruisy forty-five degrees. Let me warn you, 2021 has taken off at a run as well, so hold on to your hats, put on your joggers and let’s go!
I made a very conscious decision in December, to take some time to regroup and recover from the accumulated stress of 2020. I mean there was a lot going on around the Globe with Covid-19 and the ensuing fallout. That, in itself, created many situations world-wide that none of us were ready for or equipped to deal with, so I was not the only one engaged in a learning journey.
A very dear friend told me as I started to wobble and topple, that I needed to ‘take a breath and fill my cup.’ I am grateful for that wisdom because I now have the required energy level and resilience to face the coming months.
This is the poem I wrote after spending a very refreshing and cup-filling day with a friend who
spontaneously invited me to spend a day on Rottnest Island with her.
Once I had regained my strength, I re-entered the world of Zoom open-mic poetry to find my family awaiting with open arms, but also a sense of distress over some blatant racism directed against one of our own. And what do poets do when they become outraged by a situation? BINGO! You, dear reader, (if you said we write a poem and hold an event to raise awareness) win the door prize.
So with lightening speed Tish Camp Poet - https://www.facebook.com/TishCampPoetWriter -Dane Ince, US poet and publisher -
https://www.facebook.com/eyepublishewe - collaborated with Gary Huskisson, poet and poetry promoter at Say it Louder - https://www.facebook.com/sayitloudercommunity - and Stroud Against Racism - https://www.facebook.com/groups/1391674571023348 - to create the event and I was asked to be a poet panelist for the performance and discussion.
For the performance and discussion. Skylar intro and poetry from 1.00:41 - Outrage Against Racism 27th Jan 2021 https://www.facebook.com/polly.healey/videos/10158811169569344
Now, I admit, although honoured by the invitation I felt very under-equipped to be making comment. I am clearly a middle-aged white het cis woman. What do I know about racism? It has not been my experience. Who am I to talk on it? I felt a bit of imposter syndrome creeping over me. The only thing I had to draw on was a poem that I wrote in response to a conversation I had with a friend – or so I thought.
It turns out, as I reflected on my lived experience, that despite being anti-racist my whole life and quite outspoken about humans treating each other decently, I have been living a lie through an entirely unconscious choice to say nothing when others make racist comments, even in jest. I have swanned through life thinking that as long as I personally treat everyone the same then I am doing my part.
NEWS FLASH SKYLAR J WYNTER – SAYING NOTHING IS THE SAME AS GIVING CONSENT.
Oh, okay. No need to shout!
I am embarrassed to admit this next fact. Until I started hanging out in Zoom rooms with people from all walks of life, genders and races, I had always bristled at the term ‘White Privilege’ huffing and puffing that I came from poor beginnings and had worked (expletive) hard my whole life to get where I am today. I have privilege now because I have worked for it. And so on and so forth. BUT – before you close down your computer and decide I am a wanker (yes I did use that term) I have come into the knowledge that this is NOT AT ALL what the term is referring to.
I probably do not need to spell it out for the rest of you, but I am going to anyway. White Privilege looks like getting off speeding fines for no reason but that you are White. It looks like being pulled over even when you have committed no offence just because your skin is Black. It looks like getting served first in that fancy boutique because your skin is White, and it is assumed you have more money to spend and are therefore worth someone’s time to serve YOU over the Black woman standing next to you. It is unfair and is rife with assumptions and generalisations being made day in day out, without reprieve just because a person’s skin is Black. It is so many things that would make this blog post endless. It is subversive and obvious and not speaking up when you witness it is as bad as initiating the actions or words yourself.
I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to not just be part of this brilliant and incredibly moving event, but also to have been given a voice and an opportunity to make my realisations known, to apologise for past ignorance and to pledge that going forward I will no longer be a passive bystander. The understanding and compassion that was offered to me, the acceptance that I could not know what I did not know and the gratefulness for the validation of the situation that I had offered was extremely moving.
I truly believe that choosing to open our minds to new ways of viewing the world, accepting others, learning and becoming aware of our own limitations and changes we may need to make at an individual level is a great start to making a difference.
Stay safe my beautiful humans and be all you can be, decently. It will change the world.