January 2019

January 1st- my brother calls to tell me that my father has been admitted to the ICU with pneumonia in both lungs.

January 3rd– my father gets a breathing tube.

January 6th– breathing tube is removed and everyone marvels at his turn around. Pneumonia seems to be responding to treatment. He remains in ICU for observation.

January 7th– while at work at the tattoo shop I get a text from a former Ristretto Roasters employee whose partner is a current RR employee. The text is a link to a Youtube channel, asking if I have seen said channel. Hours later, I get home and remember the text- I open the link and up pops a channel titled #meneither.

I notice two things immediately: first the name is clearly meant to provoke, and in my opinion, is in poor taste, considering its obvious link to #metoo. Secondly, featured in the video is my former boss, Nancy Rommelmann. The Youtube channel has three videos in which Rommelmann and her co-host discuss the validity of sexual assault survivors’ stories. They question whether or not what someone experienced is “actually rape,” they blame someone’s suicide on their former partner’s infidelity, they suggest trauma is a personal choice, and that some people’s experience of unwanted sex is just “bad sex” that they should “get over.”

During my five years as an employee of Ristretto Roasters I regarded Rommelmann as my boss. Not only was she present at all important business meetings, she made decisions that impacted the daily operations of Ristretto, like when we changed pastry providers at her request. I received my first business email from her in July of 2013, and my last one in October of 2018.

Because Nancy Rommelmann was extremely involved in the operations of Ristretto, I found it disturbing that she would be promoting these ideas on her public Youtube channel. As both someone who directly managed staff for my whole time at Ristretto (and all throughout my 13 year coffee career) and someone who finds it important to be an informed consumer, I think the values one keeps are important. It informs how you lead a team, how you treat employees, how you vote, and how you spend your money.

During my time in the Portland coffee community I have been privy to the poor and abusive behavior that many employers engage in behind the scenes. Behavior that is sexist, racist, and, in my opinion, has no place in a work environment. In order to express my disapproval I choose not to patronize certain coffee shops. That is my personal choice and right. I am thankful for information sharing so that I may be an educated consumer.

So I saw it as my duty to the general public, the coffee community, and the upset staff members who had brought the matter to my attention in the first place, to more widely circulate the existence of the #meneither channel. This channel was posted about publicly on Rommelmann’s personal social media profile, so it wasn’t meant to be private.

I took a screenshot of the Youtube page and posted about it on my Instagram stories. Within seconds of posting about the #meneither videos, people started responding and getting in touch with me- many of them former and current RR employees. The general reaction was of shock and dismay.

January 8th– I hear from more people regarding the #meneither channel. They have watched the videos and are upset and angered. People start to denounce the company on their own social media accounts because they do not wish to support a business whose part owner espouses such anti-feminist ideas. These ideas throw into question the safety of Ristretto as an employer. To have one of the owners publicly question survivors could suggest that should RR employees face sexual harassment on the clock, their stories might not be taken seriously.

At this point dozens of Ristretto employees have reached out to me to share their disapproval of the view points that Rommelmann shares in her videos. Many people want to speak out but are scared of retribution, since their ability to pay bills and remain financially solvent is partially in the hands of Rommelmann. The reason people are reaching out to me in particular is because I was the first to denounce #meneither on social media and because I have a track record of advocacy on behalf of RR employees and their right to a safe working environment.

Many suggest making videos more widely known by contacting local media outlets. I decide to pen an open letter on behalf of RR staff, current and former, condemning Rommelmann’s views and making it known that RR staff doesn’t share her views. I write an email to people who have already reached out to me in anger and ask if anyone would like to sign onto the letter I am writing. I do not solicit signatures from anyone I hadn’t already discussed videos with.

January 9th– It is discovered that my father has a fungal infection in his lungs and needs to stay in the ICU longer than expected.

I get contacted by a new employer who had hired me to help with her independent business. Ristretto is one of her accounts and over the phone she explains that because I had slandered Ristretto she could no longer bring me on as an employee. Evidently, in legal paperwork I had never seen and had yet to sign, there was a clause stating that as her employee I wouldn’t slander any of her clients. This was a person with whom I had worked closely for years, always keeping a respectful and supportive business relationship. Her call and her declaration was hurtful and surprising, because rather than holding Rommelmann accountable for her Youtube channel to which people were reacting, she was punishing me for speaking out against problematic views. Furthermore, sharing true information about a public Youtube channel, which Nancy herself was promoting, is not slander. I didn’t make anything up, and any statements I made regarding the content of the videos was a matter of personal opinion.

On my way to the gym in the afternoon I call my father at the hospital and urge him to try to get rest. He is agitated and disoriented. I don’t know it, but that will be the last time we ever speak.

That night I finalize edits on the open letter and at this point 30 people have agreed to sign off, with employees not included in first email reaching out to me asking to have their names included. I get in touch with various local news papers.

January 10th- Ristretto Roasters, for the first time, makes a public statement on their Instagram account distancing themselves from Rommelmann by stating that she is in no way involved with RR or the running of the company. This is a complete and utter lie. From my first day in 2013 to my last day in 2018 she played a huge role in running the company. She made business decisions, she gave raises, she sent company wide emails, was present at company functions, signed checks, made bank deposits. In subsequent new stories she is referred to as “the owner’s wife” which is not only an unfitting title, it is insulting to her. I will not refer to her as “the owner’s wife.” I will call her what she has been, at least for the five years I worked with the company- part owner of Ristretto Roasters, if not on paper officially, very much in practice. Her role in the company can be backed up by dozens of employees who regarded her as their boss, and by literally hundreds of emails I have from her.

I hear back from several media outlets, get interviewed, share the public letter.

Later that night it is discovered that my father has internal bleeding. In order to figure out where it is coming from he is put under sedation, breathing tube is reinserted. The night ends with no clarity around his health.

January 11th– I get interviewed by Yahoo news. The story gets published and my social media handle gets shared in the article.

I leave my house that afternoon to get coffee. While driving I get rear-ended. I do not have my phone on me, so the woman who rear-ends me, after accepting full responsibility, texts me a picture of all her insurance information. After the week I had I am pretty exhausted so I don’t have the wherewithal to write down her license plate number or, unfortunately, even her name.

I drive home and as I enter my house I hear my phone ringing. I run to pick it up and hear my brother on the other line explaining to me that our father is entering the final stage of his life. I need to get home as soon as possible. The bleeding is coming from his carotid artery and there is no way to stop it. He is placed on life support as all curative measures have been exhausted.

An hour later my social media accounts begin to be bombarded by troll accounts calling me all sorts of creative things, such as “unemployed idiot,” “SJW,” which I don’t understand as an insult, and nazi, which hilariously enough, makes absolutely no sense.

January 12th- I catch a redeye to New York City.

January 13th– I arrive at the ICU at UVM Medical Center in Burlington Vermont at 5:30pm. I sit silently with my father as he breathes with the help of machines. He is under sedation but I know he knows I am there. I hold his hand. My brother and I speak with the doctors and decide it is time to remove him from life support.

We are in the room when, 10 minutes later, he breathes his last breath and passes from this world into the next.

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January 19th– I fly home to Portland and do my best to settle back into my life. My car is still in disrepair. The woman who was at fault had at some point stopped returning my calls, and through some evil trickery of my phone, her insurance information had been deleted. With the help of my insurance company I did some weird reverse engineering facebook/internet stalking and managed to find her name and figure out who she had insurance with. A ridiculous nuisance, which was just that, but added even more to my plate.

January 28th– I hear from a friend that Rommelmann and her co-host disparage me in their latest #meneither video. Its pretty hard to understand how they think any backlash directed at Rommelmann or the business she is closely affiliated with is in any way my responsibility. They clearly have no faith in the public’s ability to come to their own conclusions after watching the videos they themselves promote.

In the video they call me “C,” a sad attempt to, what, obscure my identity? Everyone knows who they are talking about at this point- my name was all over the news and I was heavily quoted. Her co-host implies that she would like to call me cunt instead (“another C word”). For those of you who are journalists, a fact: I am a lesbian and am not offended by the word cunt or the existence of cunts, and I can’t believe people still think of cunt as an insult. Then Rommelmann goes on to talk about my father’s health and cancer diagnosis, of which she knows nothing about, invents that I took off six weeks of work to tend to his health- I didn’t, it was 10 days total, and over three years ago in a situation that was unrelated to his cancer diagnosis, and she talks about my salary. She draws parallels to her life, in which she too is dealing with a terminally ill person who is near and dear to her. Her analysis here is weak, in stating that because I was aware of the declining health of the person in her life, I was somehow in the wrong for making the channel she herself made public, more, well, public.

Let me make this crystal clear: Nancy Rommelmann made a Youtube channel titled #meneither. You can go watch the public videos on the public channel and make up your own opinion on her and her co-hosts view points. I, in fact, did this myself- cause I am pretty sure thats what the videos are there for: to illicit reaction. I watched the videos, I deeply disagreed with their statements and poorly articulated arguments, I know Rommelmann on a professional basis, I spoke about this publicly on my own social media account. Other people watched the videos, and did the same thing. In what became a weird mini media storm about this I have seen many people suggest that “Portland feminists” tried to “silence” the wife of the owner of a company, and then incorrectly try to bring “his” business down. Make no mistake: regardless of whatever paperwork they try to produce stating otherwise, Rommelmann played a huge role in RR. To boycott RR is to, by extension boycott her and her values. That this has anything to do with me and what is going on in either of our personal lives, well, it just holds no water. And might I remind you, while Rommelmann was busy trying to blame me for the backlash, I was actually dealing with the death of my father.

Furthermore, in Rommelmann’s plea that she be treated with care she reminds her viewers that we are dealing with people here who have real lives with real pain. Right- like the very people whose sexual assault claims she questions?

At the end of Rommelmann’s analysis of the situation, her classy co-host calls me a crumb bitch- still trying to figure out what that one means.

January 29th– For reasons that will probably never make sense, weeks after my first social media post regarding #meneither, Rommelmann decides to take to Ristretto Roaster’s twitter account and slander me, using my full first name. No clever use of “C” this time. Instead she quotes from my blog, says I am a “little lady” grinding my ax, makes fun of my halloween costume from last year (which is such a sadly low blow), belittles me for attending Smith College, speaks about my family’s socioeconomic status which she knows literally nothing about, shares quotes from a private email exchange I had with her about a business idea (cause, you see, she helps run the business…) and states that I was going to be fired four days after I quit.

Can we please just go ahead and say that anything negative that happens to Ristretto’s business, from here on out, is so clearly not on me?

In a statement to a local newspaper which published the twitter rant, (rant was deleted from the RR account promptly, but not before people got screenshots) Rommelmann, who just a few weeks prior claimed to have no professional affiliation with RR, admits to being the one who slandered me on Ristretto Roaster’s public twitter account.

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I will never, ever, apologize or accept responsibility for Nancy Rommelmann’s poor behavior and her choice to publicly share view points that could potentially engender a dangerous environment for survivors of sexual assault. Especially within the work environment of a company Rommelmann helps run. I do not believe myself to be anywhere near powerful enough to stop anyone from supporting a business, let alone bring down an entire company. I simply shared my opinion on a public video and shared the truth of how it is linked with a public facing company. From there, people were left to make up their own minds. To blame me is not only ridiculous, it implies a lack of free will from the general public, like I am some how orchestrating people’s opinions and their subsequent behavior.

Although touting the First Amendment as a means to defend Rommelmann is                 oh-so-tempting for dudes on the internet who to refer to me as an unemployed idiot and question the validity of protesting within the capitalist structure they adore, this is not about Rommelmann’s right to free speech. Rommelmann can say anything she wants. Seriously. And she has (see: Twitter Rant). And then, the cool thing about free speech, is that everyone has it. So because listening, using your brain, and forming your own opinion is also free and presumably protected by the constitution, lots and lots of people exercised their own free will and right to the first amendment to say either out loud, on the internet, or to their friends, that they disagree with Rommelmann’s views as shared by her on her #meneither Youtube channel. The leap from there to not patronizing a business she is closely linked with and benefits from is really not such a stretch. People have the right to make that choice. To boycott her business doesn’t “shut her up,” as some people imply is happening. She continues to say what she wants, how she wants.

Participating in a capitalist system that is meant to keep people down is not my first choice. But when you are left with very little recourse, you use the tools available to you. We are living within a structure that champions white supremacy, endangers queer and trans bodies, questions women and survivors at every turn, and protects people with money. We can argue both “sides” of a situation until we are blue in the face, but unfortunately, we don’t get results fast enough, or often not at all. And within this broken system, sometimes the only thing people feel, the only way they hear our calls for equality, is through their wallets. So its pretty simple- that is what is happening here.

Regarding all the other drivel in her twitter rant- I see no need to defend myself against her.

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It has always been incredibly hard for me to be vulnerable. Blame it on my Aquarian moon, but being forthcoming about my feelings and my needs hasn’t always been my forte. This isn’t to say that I am cold and can’t hold space for the feelings of others; its more that I have a hard time letting others in.

One of the really special things a troll said to me is that I am a selfish brat who is only concerned with myself, while my father is dying of cancer, and that I deserve all the hardship coming my way.

I thought about how to write this story without including my father, and how to write about my father’s death without including the Ristretto situation. This isn’t because I am inclined to give weight to what some idiot with a fake profile says on the internet, but because this comment in some way spoke to my inclination to hide myself, hide my vulnerability.

But you see, it is actually impossible for me to extricate the RR occurrence with my father’s steady decline in health and his subsequent death- at least the portion that happened concurrently. Although the two situations are seemingly unrelated (nothing in life is unrelated though), dealing with personal hardship through this more public situation informed my behavior. It put things in perspective and reminded me that I have a responsibility to move forward with integrity, honesty, and clarity.

I initially set out to write this blog post about my time with Ristretto Roasters. I got ready for a gloves off play-by-play account of what I felt was a pattern of mistreatment and disrespect during my time with the company. I wrote and wrote and wrote and created something devastating, extensive, and true. But also- something very angry, and motivated by aggression.

I sat and looked at what I had written, hit “select all,” “cut,” and pasted it to an email I sent only myself.

If my father hadn’t died between one half of this media circus and the next, my understanding of this situation would have been severely skewed, entangling my sense of self worth with internet commentary about my “character.” During the first week of this very public discussion, my whole body vibrated with anxiety. This anxiety vibration started from the second I watched the first #meneither video, coming from a place of sadness, pain and anger; it felt like a rush propelling me forward and informing my every move. I lost sleep, was attached to my phone, scrolling and reloading for hours on end. It truly exhausted me, and the moment my body was pushed forward by the impact of my car being hit, it was like a weird universal smack down literally tell me to STOP. Stop, move on, because your life is about to change drastically. You are about to enter a stage of grief, grief you have never known before, the status of fatherlessness, of suddenly understanding the reality so many of my friends know, what so many people close to me have gone through.

When I got news that my father was close to his death, I had a choice to be forthcoming, and by extension vulnerable, about it publicly. I had been deeply engaged in internet discourse for the better part of a week, and now I could no longer continue talking about Ristretto or Rommelmann or anything else in the world that matters so much less than love, loss, and family, chosen or biological. It was time for me to put it down and face grief.

So I said to my community, who had been giving me so much beautiful support as it was already, hey- this is me and I am at the precipice of  something really really hard. I said this out loud, I wrote it down on a screen, I trusted my emotional needs to those who I knew well, those who I had never met but were sending me support via internet waves, those who I knew only tangentially.

And what I got back in return was such a deep form of love, dense and forgiving, asking nothing of me and only holding me and bearing witness. So, thank you for that. It was a good reminder, and in so many ways a new lesson, that there is basic goodness in the world and that sometimes asking for what you need, or even just stating it by living and persevering, leads you down a really strange and round about path at the end of which you get what you didn’t even know you needed.

January 2019 was a crash course in vulnerability for me, and I am eternally grateful for every moment that has unfolded, and grateful to myself for being able to stay as present as possible for it all. What I want to focus on now is where I go from here and how I use my own vulnerability to act from a place of integrity. Where do we, as a society, move from here- this volatile and deeply sad time in our history- how do we evolve through the dissonance of personal belief systems? How we communicate and work together has always been of fascination to me and I am drawn to spaces and work that calls for digging into the challenge.

This is my work and I vow to devote myself to this discourse with continued honesty, humanity, and you guessed it- vulnerability.

 

Of Therapy, Race and Unpaid Labor

About two years ago shit was getting super real and with every passing day it become increasingly apparent that I was in need of some GOOD CLEAN THERAPY.

I was raised by therapists, and my brother is a therapist- I often joke that its the family business and wonder to myself how long it will take me to just give into the familial calling and become a therapist myself.

I will now guide you on a picturesque stroll through therapist-memories past-

  1. I had a childhood therapist analyze my IQ for scholarly aptitude at age 7. This was bogus though because the test was done in English and the time I primarily spoke and understood only Spanish. Bet that douche isn’t bilingual.
  2. During my parent’s divorce, my brother and I endured family therapy with the dreaded Evan- she was the first to suggest we be given chores to help my mom out. Can you even handle the nerve?!?! My job was to set the table. My brother’s job was to take the trash down the hall to the trash chute. One night he decided that rather than walk down the hall a few hundred feet,  he would chuck it off of our eighth floor balcony. The trash bag landed on the balcony of our downstairs neighbors, exploded, and littered their property with our mail. Not exactly an airtight plan right there.
  3. I asked for a therapist my first year of high school- actually just for fun. My mom found me an older lady with cats, who lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. She didn’t understand me AT ALL.
  4. I was provided with a therapist after my abortion my second year of high school and I requested a male therapist this time around- who the FUCK can even understand why. I think I was trying to be edgy, and he was as confused as I was.
  5. I got myself a therapist through my college my sophomore year when I started experiencing extreme anxiety- Marge Litchford. Marge was a great therapist but then later went on to hit on me and completely disrespect the patient-therapist code of conduct, opting instead for a complete abuse of power which included (but wasn’t limited to) using facts from my life that I shared in therapy against me in a sick game of Two Truths and a Lie. Playing the game was her idea. So was inviting me out to dinner and suggesting that although she can’t “break the rules,” (presumably because of her occupation as a THERAPIST, our extreme age difference, my status as a former patient of hers…) I should “throw caution to the wind.” These last two comments were completely unprompted by me, and punctuated a bizarre night of personal panic and dissociation.
  6. This last experience seriously soured me on therapy, which is a shame because I really needed help at the time. Smith College provided me with a therapist to process the situation with Marge – just to cover their asses- but they didn’t fire her. In fact, they promoted her, and for the remainder of my college career I would endure public panic attacks any time I saw her on campus.
  7. I don’t feel any sort of guilt here using her actual name and the name of my school. According to Smith’s website, Marge is now available via Google Chat. How nice.
  8. Took a long hiatus from therapy after college.
  9. I decided I needed more therapy sometime during my first year in Portland. Probably because I couldn’t understand why I had moved to Portland- but thats neither here nor there. I started with the therapist my partner at the time was seeing, but she was really nice and gentle, and I need someone to smack me when I try to bullshit my way through things. She clearly wasn’t up for the task.
  10. She suggested I see this other person, who was located a 45 minute drive from my house- which is hard to imagine, considering everything in Portland is within like a five mile radius. Previous therapist assured me that this therapist would “hold my feet to the fire.” But alas, she wasn’t up for the task of my BS either.

So I gave up for a little bit. And during this break once mentioned to my ex that I didn’t understand how everyone in the queer community was always talking about how they were healing. I was like – I’m not healing from anything- IM FINE.

Right.

But the truth is- I wasn’t healing because I was in the depths of denial. And after years of suppressing everything, things started to boil over. At the time that I started realizing it was time to get back to therapy, I was going through a break-up, my father was getting sober and suffering extreme fluctuations in health (he also moved to back to Chile at this time and found out that my step mother— whom he had been married to for over 25 years— was gas-lighting him), I was starting the process of buying a house- which is a total privilege and also very stress inducing, and my body was showing extreme physical manifestations of anxiety- – – I really needed to talk to someone.

I strongly believe in the clarity that can come from processing with someone who is completely uninvolved in your life, but the task of getting into therapy is daunting, and finding the right one can feel like an insurmountable challenge. There should be a Tinder for therapists- just a brief snippet of what they focus on, if they accept insurance, what their sliding scale is if they don’t take insurance, and as cute or calming a picture as they can find. Cause finding a therapist is like dating, if dating involved delving into your most vulnerable shit in one hour increments every single time you go out. And always being the one that pays for dinner.

One weekend I drove out to the coast for a friend’s going away party, and she asked if I could bring one of her friends back to Portland with me. On the 2 hour drive home we talked about all kinds of stuff, one of them being therapy, and she told me that her current therapist had changed her life. I took it as a sign that maybe this could be the therapist for me. She mentioned that her therapist- we shall call her Cindy- also worked with sound healing, which in my head I was like “what the hell is that???” but didn’t press the matter and instead got Cindy’s contact info and thanked my new friend for the lead.

I should note here that I am a no-nonsense East Coaster and when I first moved to Portland was allergic to all talk of: astrology, tarot, woo, crystals, phases of the goddamn moon etc.

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The first session went just fine. We got some basics out of the way, and I found that I enjoyed speaking with her. I was right there with her on most of her insights, and her take on things. The first session ends without much fan-fair.

Second session- I wear my hair in braids, which is what I do when its too greasy for decency and I don’t have time or motivation to shower before getting on with my day. I sit down for the session, and she looks at me and with a smile says “Well, don’t you look like your beautiful indigenous self.”

This is the part where the record stops because she is a nice older white lady, and I am young and ornery Latina.

Like in most questionable racist and misogynist moments, I swallow my shock, and carry on. Because, as backwards as this is, I don’t want to question someone and make them feel uncomfortable or on the spot. I don’t want to assume the worst, and clearly she thought she was paying me a compliment. But fucking hell, if I don’t get a stupid ass comment every time I wear my hair in braids.

I work in customer service in Portland Oregon, for crying out loud. Talk about mislead white people trying to be nice by fetishizing you incessantly. I think people get excited when it looks like “Pocahantas” is making their latte.

Here is a snippet of some of the things people have actually said to me during my time in Portland-

Wow your skin is so tan. NO- its not “tan” if its my year round skin color.

Omg you went camping for the first time just 2 years ago? Thats so chola of you! NO- chola isn’t a blanket term for all Latin American people raised in an urban environment. Also- what?

Gracias for my latte! NO- I took your order in English, you are not my friend, my language isn’t just a fun tourist moment for you. ALSO what a privilege to just speak spanish freely as a white person, without ANY THREAT OF DEPORTATION.

You speak Spanish?! No way- can you teach me? NO- will you just quickly teach me coding in exchange? Also- see above. Also, why? Like really- why do you want to know how to speak Spanish? So you can order your burrito in Spanish? Give me a break.

BUT I DIGRESS-

So here is this new nice therapist, saying some super questionable shit to me. But I push on with the session and in my head tell myself I am never coming back.

During the following days I tell everyone about what Cindy said. “O M G can you believe this lady?” “blah blah blah what a terrible person!” And my friends and community members lovingly followed along, ooed and ahhed and agreed and said, “ugh you clearly need to leave. her. in. the. dust!”

And yes- that was a totally bone-headed misguided thing to say. But also, now stay with me here- People Mess Up. That doesn’t make it ok, and its up to PoC on an individual basis to make the choice regarding how much unpaid labor they want to put into the general education of white people. But I knew that there was more going on for me here. Yes, she said something offensive, but also, I was pretty freaked out about taking steps to move towards healing, and trying things that were new to me (like, um, sound healing…) that could be good for my anxiety, my relaxation, and my relationship to therapy. It would have been much easier for me to ditch this therapist and claim that she couldn’t understand me based on her misunderstanding of race and fetishizing- which would be well within my right- than it would have been for me to confront her about the comment and push forth into the unknown, taking potential steps towards some personal healing.

I have done a lot of unpaid emotional labor in my life- both femme and PoC. It exhausts me, it really does. I also have come to understand that some of it is my work in this world. I have found myself countless times in positions of mediation and leadership, starting at age 5; some of those situations have been detrimental to me and have been forced upon me without my consent. Other times that position has helped shape me into who I am, has played off of innate strengths and a deep ability to empathize, and has given me strength. I engage in this labor at work, where I do get paid, and in my social and familial life, where I have needed to develop tools to discern whether or not it is additive or detrimental. I have worked a lot on learning to have boundaries.

At the next session, I sat across from her and said:

“Before we get started, I need to address a comment you made last session.”

I outlined what she had said, how it made me feel, and why it was inappropriate and steeped in white supremacy. She apologized, explained where she was coming from, and didn’t make excuses. She thanked me for helping her understand. We got into a deeper conversation about choosing to be in a therapeutic relationship, and how both parties involved need to make sure its a good fit. She said:

“I understand you have reservations about working with me, and I thank you for telling me about those reservations. I too have my reservations about working with you.”

“What are those reservations?”

“You are very cut off emotionally and I am not totally sure that you are interested in digging deep and making yourself vulnerable to the process.”

WELL DAMN LADY, AREN’T YOU JUST HITTING THE NAIL ON THE HEAD.

We shared our reservations, our honest observations about each other and whether or not the relationship could work; I felt like she was seeing me as clearly as she could.

What I have gained over the past two years of therapy with her has been invaluable and imperative. I had a few sessions of sound healing- and it was weird and not totally my thing, but I am glad I tried it- and worked at unraveling why I go right into my thoughts when an emotion comes up, worked at understanding family of origin relationships that no longer serve me to perpetuate, and got closer to feeling my own personal power and standing more fully in myself.

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I am honestly still on the fence a lot of the time regarding how much its the responsibility of PoC to teach white people about the ways in which they perpetuate racism and white supremacy. Even without meaning to or knowing thats what they are doing. Cause, duh, white people- you have access to the internet and BOOKS and a responsibility to be the least shitty iteration of yourself. PoC are also engaging in personal work, and the added work of holding your hand through race 101 (and putting up with white fragility and tears) is really, just honestly, asking too much. And so actually, fuck being on the fence- its NOT the responsibility of ANY PoC to guide you through understanding your racism. Just like it isn’t femme/female identified people’s responsibility to help misogynists (in alllll their iterations) stop speaking over the femmes and female identified people in their lives.

If individuals benefitting from the power of being favored within dominant culture find themselves learning from a member of any marginalized community, they are extremely lucky.

In this situation with the therapist, I did the math in my head of what I stood to lose from making myself extremely vulnerable and helping a white person evolve, vs. what I could possibly gain. I ended up gaining a positive long term relationship with a therapist who helped me a lot. In 90% of cases where I am working to help lift the veil of white supremacy and the patriarchy, I actually gain very little aside from knowing that I am *maybe* keeping someone else in my community from having to do the work for this particular individual. My chance of not being objectified or fetishized in this particular instance has passed, and I missed it.

And this is a VERY cursory explanation of the risk management those of us in marginalized communities asses on a constant basis moving through this world.

I guess my ultimate take away is that my relationship to therapy, especially the white anglo tradition of therapy, has always been a complicated one; its been a relationship that at times has taken more away from me than it has given me. I am back on another hiatus, and as with most other parts of my life, unpaid PoC labor played a role in this most recent leg of my “therapy journey.”

Interacting with each other within the system of white supremacy affords us all with various opportunities: the opportunity to learn, the opportunity to work and teach, the opportunity to assert boundaries, and the chance to feel both enlightened and exhausted. Its up to each of us, my fellow PoC queer femmes with whom I share my particular community, to make the call for ourselves when to engage, and when to keep ourselves safe and for ourselves.

I know the work needs to be done, and that teaching is, and will continue to be, an imperative part of dismantling white supremacy.  But I think its important to understand at what cost it actually comes.