The first time I was accused of being a privileged white woman,
I was defensive.
I tried to explain all of the non-privileged experiences
I’ve endure in my life,
despite the fact that I am white.
But my accuser wasn’t buying any of it.
She doubled down on her angry outbursts.

The second time I was accused of being a privileged white woman,
I was resentful.
Because as a woman, I too have suffered injustice
just for not being born a man.
And back in the 70’s,
when the civil rights movement was going full blast
we feminists were asked to stand back
and not steal the thunder
from the cause of justice for blacks.

The next time I was accused of being a privileged white woman,
I was perplexed,
because you keep attacking the very people who are trying to do right.
And I can’t change the fact that I’m white.
So if I agree that black lives matter,
why are you telling me
my cries for justice don’t count?

And then, you said it again,
and I finally started to get it,
because this behavior was beginning to look familiar –
It’s what happens when I try to help homeless women.
They attack me.
Fasely accuse me of this and that.
And it hurt until I realized
they were hurting more than I was
-          more than they could ever hurt me.
It’s just the way someone acts
when they’re suffering with PTSD.

And I finally understood,
that those same symptoms of trauma
are being manifested by so many who’ve been
beaten down because they are black
beaten down because they are women
beaten down because they are poor
Beaten down
Beaten down
into the ground beaten down
By people who look like me.

My skin is the trigger
that ignites all of that pain.
It’s not my fault.
It’s just what is.

For me,
this is a cause I can step up to,
and go home.
For you,
it is a lifetime sentence.
And when you’re feeling that impotent,
When you’re feeling that hopeless,
When you’re feeling that powerless,
When you’re feeling that traumatized,
You have to finally,
fight back.

And you start with the ones who open the door,
Who give you the floor,
Who won’t call the cops.
You start with the ones you know
won’t hit you back.

The next time I’m accused of being a privileged white woman
I’m going to try to let down my pride.
Say, “Yes,
you are most likely right.
I’ve had it easier than you,
just because I’m white.
And I’m glad you found the courage
to stand proud,
to take the mic,
to hold your ground.”

I know this is going to be a long hard fight
I’ve got your back.
I don’t know what else to say
except I hope someday
I’ll earn your trust,
if we can’t stand shoulder to shoulder
there won’t be justice
for any of us.