Saying there’s a seat at the table for you, especially when we say this to black women or BIPOC or women of color, requires action. We need to move over first. And then be quiet and listen.
When I say “we” I mean this in a communal sense, and am speaking as a white woman to other white women. I am speaking to my current and past selves, and to all of us with lots and lots and lots of love.
When we are about to become a parent for the second time, we cannot fathom having enough space in our hearts for another child. It’s a fear many of us have but, somehow, they’re right – the space in our hearts magically doubles. We impossibly love our children equally and can almost feel our hearts exploding to accommodate the growth.
The metaphorical table we are speaking of here, however, does not have magical, infinite space.
As humans have evolved throughout history, some of us (looking at you white, cisgendered men, with lots of money) have taken up an extreme amount of space, leaving the rest to fight for no space at all. Imagine fighting, literally to the death, for a seat at the table, only to find out there actually isn’t one available. It was just a distraction. Meanwhile, these guys are hoarding whole stacks of tables and chairs away in the basement, gathering dust under piles of yearbooks.
Those with close proximity, like for example, us white women, take advantage of the fact that these men make room for us at the table by marrying us and fathering our children, giving us jobs, and protecting us. We might want to smash the patriarchy on Wednesdays, but not too much, because dismantling it all the way, might crush our seats, too.
Because remember, the seats are gone. Like, we’re full. No occupancy. If we invite our black sisters to the table, where will they sit? We can’t make more chairs! Will we stand up and give up our spot? And the privilege and income and security that comes with it? Will we walk away from the table completely? Will we go down into our grandfather’s basement, dust off the chairs, and bring them up? What do we lose when we take this risk?
So, we sit tall in our chairs and turn our backs so we cannot see what we cannot see and keep our comfort close.
Well, maybe I’ve taken this table/seat analogy too far, but I do love a good metaphor. Plus, maybe it’s easier to visualize the ridiculousness of inviting people over for dinner and making them stand and eat, even though we have chairs in the basement.
So, dear white sisters, we have to move over. We have to get up. Saying there’s a seat at the table requires action. It requires loss. And risk. But it’s the only way.
And then, when the table is set, and the food is served, they sit. And we listen.