“Manifest your destiny” without the context of kyriarchal oppressions is just Manifest Destiny in yoga pants.
The system is rigged. The playing field isn’t level, and it was never meant to be.
Each of us have intersecting identities: some of mine are white, cis-gender, currently able bodied, woman. Those intersecting identities mean I’m playing the game in very specific ways. It doesn’t mean I don’t have to work, but it does mean my work is received differently than someone with different identities.
Regardless of any other identities, I am white in a white supremacist culture. No matter what else I have going on, I always have the benefit of whiteness. That’s how privilege works. It’s literal, quantifiable benefits.
So if I, in my white, cis, able-bodied, woman body, start talking about Love and Light, how my vibe attracts my tribe, how what I resist persists and what I focus on grows, without taking into consideration that my whiteness — along with my cisness and ablebodiedness — all change how I’m showing up to the game, then I am perpetuating what the first colonizers showed up with when they literally raped and pillaged their way through the “new” continent.
My whiteness means I am taught, implicitly and explicitly, that all I can grab is mine to have, and what’s more, that I *deserve* to have it. This is the Law of Attraction saying if I am poor it’s because I am not manifesting wealth. (If Manifest Destiny is a new reference for you, here’s a simple breakdown: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manifest_destiny)
The default identities are the ones that bring the most benefits. They’re the ones the system is rigged to support. White is the big one. It means that no matter what other identity I have, as a white person having it, my experience is set as the default.
I don’t have to fight for my rights to be cis-gender, because cis is the default that the system supports. However, white trans* folks have the default identity of white, and so it makes it all too common that trans* struggles are only examined in the ways they affect white trans* folks.
I don’t have to fight for access and health care in this able body, because able-bodies are the default the system supports. But even when I have had to fight for care, I did it in a white body, which means I had access that is systematically denied to people who are not white (and then we can also talk about how when I go in for health care that is specific to people with vaginas, I am benefiting from horrific medical “tests” done to Black women without their consent).
I do have to fight against the patriarchy and I grew up clutching my keys between my fingers like every other woman I know, but I am a white woman, and so my experience of womanhood is set as the default even though it is anything but. Privileges overlap like a prism, and the world sees me – and importantly, I see the world- through the lens of the prism I have. And from this lens, things aren’t perfect but they look pretty rosy. The sisterhood is welcoming and ready to offer me sage and singing bowls.
It is my responsibility to dismantle the systems of oppression that benefit me. Catch that? I am responsible for dismantling white supremacy. I am responsible for dismantling transphobia. I am responsible for dismantling able-ism. If I am not dismantling the systems of oppression that benefit me, I am by default upholding it. I can wear all the ally-ship swag I want, but if I’m not actively dismantling the systems of oppression, I am perpetuating them.
Easier said than done though, because I am white in a culture that taught me that white is always right, and that whites always have the rights. I have to be on the lookout for the ways this seed of Manifest Destiny is growing its poisonous tendrils out through me. Whiteness cannot be trusted. Note I did not say “white people cannot be trusted.” I said *Whiteness cannot be trusted* because it cannot.
I am more than what the construct of whiteness has taught me to believe I am. But I am always white.
This is where the Love and Light folks tend to get a little squirrelly. This is about the time when I get some hate mail telling me I am a) the problem and b) not evolved enough to notice the ways I am the problem. If you are composing one of these emails to me in your head right now, you can hit send but honey, you can also save yourself the trouble because I’ve read them.
Love and Light are powerful forces. Gratitude is a profound choice that can fly in the face of rampant capitalism. And oh my holy goodness we absolutely do need to get in the body and move with the breath and reconnect to the magic that comes in ceremony and through conversations with the natural forces that are trying to get us to listen.
But we have to be extremely careful, because all of this is within the context of a system that is built to keep some folks down, and only a few folks on top. The closer we are to the top, the more work we are responsible for.
Otherwise we are Christopher Colombus in yoga pants.