Gossamer Shield of Whiteness (a poem)

Stepping out from behind

my shimmering gossamer

shield of whiteness,

I am exposed to the fire,

the fear, the horror of countless bodies


for nothing but the pigment in their skin.


My mind shrieks to retreat, back to the

silky, soft folds of my gossamer

shield of whiteness.

Where struggle isn’t that hard,

where blood isn’t spilled

where I don’t have to face the

fucked up

State of this nation every day of my life.

This nation, the United States of Oppression.

United on the bodies of

Black & brown & red & yellow

in the name of life, liberty, and

the pursuit of capitalism.

My mind screams to go back into

the folds of protection.

But I hear the shrieks of centuries held

grief & rage & exhaustion.

I hear the shrieks of injustice, of generations living in

fear & struggle & death.

I hear the bellows, the war cries that


I hear my mind shrieking yes, but

the shrieking is coming from the shield.

I turn to my beautiful shimming gossamer

shield of whiteness and

despite the shrieks, I begin to take it apart.

Slowly, intentionally, carefully, deliberately

I rip it into shreds.

Piece by piece.

It is uncomfortable. It hurts, stings, aches, burns. It is painful…

But what do I really know of pain?

In my shimmering gossamer

shield of whiteness

Written in affirmation of my deep commitment to pursue the internal work of dismantling racism within myself, to be actively anti-racist, to never stop listening to and learning from people of color, to stay humble as fuck and have hard but necessary conversations with other white people. We must do the work to dismantle the systems of oppression, for we have benefited from the structures formed on the backs of others. It is our mess to clean up.

Some things I am doing to continue this work include: actively participating in my local anti-racism initiative; reading (White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem, a variety of resources on the historical context of slavery and white supremacy, and when I need something less heavy anything by Octavia Butler), listening to podcasts (1619, Nice White Parents, many relevant episodes of On Being, etc), and talking to people in my life about these books and podcasts and what I’ve learned from them. I also am actively supporting BIPOC owned businesses, seeking out BIPOC artists, consciously choosing to watch shows and movies that feature non-white, non-cis, non-hetero, actors & actresses.

What are you doing?

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