I was reading about Paula Deen’s announcement that she had Type II diabetes, and has been dealing with it for awhile. The comments I’ve seen have made me angry. It gets me that there are attitudes that put the idea forward that “Well, just look at the food she made! She deserved to get diabetes!”
Deserved? Because she cooked food she liked?
I’m not going to go into a thing about how correlation is NOT causation, and how genetics play the biggest role in who gets diabetes. I don’t deny the fact that food does play a factor in diabetes, because I know. Most of the adults in my family, way out to my grandmother, and I think further, have had this. I’m a former biochemist: I worked in pharma and healthcare for 13 years.
No, this isn’t about that.
This is about discrimination, privilege, and failure.
I get that I have privilege. I am a white, cisgendered, middle class woman. I’m extremely lucky to have my shelter, food, and clothing needs met. I go to seminary, and I’m lucky enough to have health insurance. I also fall into some categories that are discriminated against: I’m queer, I’m female, I’m Wiccan, and I’m fat.
I want to help in areas that I will never truly completely understand because I’m not transgendered, African-American, Muslim…
What’s frustrating is that it seems that even when trying to work for justice, I fail.
For example: When we went to the craft store, I picked up a book on crochet called “The Chicks with Sticks Guide to Crochet.” The book was innocuous enough, and neither Sarah nor I really thought much of it at the time. When I was talking to her about all of this earlier this evening, Sarah said that the title was offensive because it riffed off of “Chicks with Dicks” and that the book itself assumed that only women really wanted to do crochet.
She was right. To be honest, I felt bad, horrified, really. It wasn’t intentional on anyone’s part, but there it was.
The frustrated part of me wanted to shout and scream:
I try and try to recognize my own privilege, to work for social justice, to not hurt people, and no matter what I do, I still fail. No matter what good I do, no matter how hard I try to prove that I am an ally, I still fail. When I speak up, especially around size acceptance, I still fail.
The part of me that speaks out, like when I saw nasty comments and fat jokes about Paula Deen, it wants to scream:
Don’t you hear yourself? Don’t you understand what you’re saying?
“She deserved it because she cooked southern food.”
“She deserved it because she was transgendered.”
“She deserved it because she was wearing slutty clothes.”
“She deserved it because she’s fat.”
“She deserved it because she’s black.”
“She deserved it because she’s a bitch.”
And the part of me that wants to help? To make things right? To work for justice?
That part feels made of fail.
Who am I to speak out? Who am I to do this work?
And what comes to me is that even Jesus wanted to give it up at one point. In the garden of Gethsemane, he begged God to take his burden away from him: “[H]e threw him‐self on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me…’ (Matthew 26:39)” I get that. I get that it was just all too much. That he wanted to just give it all up and be done with it. But it’s the next words of that chapter that explain why he didn’t: “…yet not what I want but what you want…”
I can’t deny that there are seven deities (including Jesus) who have put me in the right place at the right time to do the work I need to do. I am the one to do the work because I am there, and I said to the universe that I would do it. I am the one to speak out because I am there and I have been called to do so.
I know that I’m human, and I am dealing with other humans. None of this is easy, and it’s a constant struggle to do what I think is right.
Sometimes I do good.
And, sometimes, I fail.
But I am there, and I try.
And I wish, with all my heart, that it is enough.
It never is.