I’ve had so much swirling around in my head over the last two weeks as I’ve transferred my blog here to substack. Thanks to those who opting for a paid subscription right out of the gate! I now feel like I’ve got a little more pressure to deliver! (But not too much…)
Usually anytime that I form a semi-coherent thought that I want to dive into a bit deeper, I scribble it down in my day book so that it doesn’t escape me later when I have time to write. As of today, I have about 10 lines of notes written that are only sort of connected, so if I seem to be jumping all over the place, it’s because I’ve got some thoughts and feelings brewing that I believe are connected if you’ll stay with me.
Going through all my old posts was certainly a trip. It’s interesting to see what themes have stuck around, what I was totally wrong about, and how my writing has moved forward. I was really interested to read a few posts that talk about the work I’ve tried to do in organizing and understanding my own views about the world and how I still wrestle with those views. I often felt like once I was able to write things down and publish them, that the issues I was wrestling with were dealt with – that they were firm, set in stone, and I could move forward. But the truth is that I still continue to wrestle with many of these issues everyday: colonization, racism, capitalism. I keep coming back again and again because I’m re-evaluating my opinions and perspectives as I learn more and more. It’s an ongoing process, and I think that’s okay.
Recently I’ve been seeking out critical analysis to some of these perspectives that I hold. I’ve been existing in the algorithm-driven echo chamber for quite some time and stumbling across a few thinkers and writers who are questioning viewpoints has helped me expand my peripheral view.
It can be fucking scary reading criticism of some political theory – some of the language and the ideas are super offensive and my skin crawls instantly when I read or watch people tear apart ideas that I hold firmly. My instinct is to dismiss and forget and run the other direction, but I’m starting to see the importance of ongoing dialogue around hard topics. The echo chamber is a dangerous place, whether you’re on the right or left, because it’s designed to pull you deeper and deeper. It creates this divide – this rift which is defining our current political landscape. It doesn’t allow for critical thinking and often results in name-calling, cancelling, or censorship.
I checked a book out from my local library last week in the hopes of understanding a bit about the criticisms of woke culture. The book is called Woke Religion and is written by John McWhorter. I already understood the premise of the book before I picked it up, but I was interested in reading what I though might be a critical analysis of cancel culture. The first 20 or so pages were quite informative and I followed along from premise to premise as McWhorter set his stage for his main claim: that woke ideology is more like a religion than a political stand point. Around page 20, however, he jumped right off the deep end claiming that anyone who agreed with “accountability culture” was being sucked into a cult-like religion. Here’s a snippet from the book’s synopsis:
“In Woke Racism, McWhorter reveals the workings of this new religion, from the original sin of “white privilege” and the weaponization of cancel culture to ban heretics, to the evangelical fervor of the “woke mob.””
At that point, I skimmed ahead to see if this intense criticism and anger would continue: it did, so I stopped reading. I think it’s safe to say that while cancel culture is venomous, there remains a middle ground where accountability is still important. It felt so strange that McWhorter would condemn all those seeking accountability from racist action to this evangelical and blind mob trying to only bring people to justice through public stoning. I don’t deny that those people exist, but there is a middle ground, and I feel like that’s really where we should put our focus rather than the extremes.
I’m reading some bell hooks and adrienne maree brown. I’m thinking about leading with compassion when entering these discussions. I’m also trying to be brave and ask questions when I have them without fear of being called racist. This is a hard shift but I’m also feeling refreshed by shedding the weight of the echo chamber that kept reinforcing that I could never do important work beyond internal deconstruction.
I’m questioning what I’m reading from all sides of the political spectrum. I’m reflecting on the pieces that make sense to me and the pieces that don’t. I think I’m done feeling ashamed for being part of a culture that I really don’t have a say in because that shame was fueling a mental breakdown. I’m no longer feeling frozen in inaction because I’m afraid to misstep. I’m ready to do more work.