Tag Archive | White Privlege

I Can’t be Racist . . . I have White Friends!

It’s important to tell anyone reading this, I didn’t actually understand that I was Black, until I was about 7.  I never looked in the mirror, and some of my best friends in Elementary school were white.  I assumed I looked like them.  Call it childish innocence.  It wasn’t until my lil’ redheaded friend’s father wouldn’t let me sleep over their house, and my mom had to explain to me why.  I don’t remember exactly how I felt, but as I remember the event some 30 years later, I’m sure it made an impact.

Thats Racist

In high school, my group of friends was like the United Colors of Benetton.  We took our “Buddy Pictures” in plaid flannel of all colors.  There was a biracial girl, 2 white girls, a Filipino girl, and me. Imagine my surprise when one of my white friend’s dad was angry that she was friends with me.  I had talked to this man on the phone almost every day for a year.  He KNEW me, I thought.  That’s when I found out her dad was racist.

The majority of my life, I’ve befriended people based solely on merit. If you can hold a conversation, or we have something in common, or we work together, I’ll talk to you.  I’ve never really looked at race as a determining factor in my relationships with people.  I don’t mean, “I don’t see color,” I mean color didn’t determine your worth in my life.

Then Travyon Martin was killed.

All of a sudden, people I’d been friends with all my life – some people I considered FAMILY – were saying the most horrifically racist things about this CHILD who was killed by an overzealous asshole, who was probably racist.

“I mean, maybe he did attack that guy!”

“Why was he looking suspicious in a neighborhood he didn’t belong in?”

“I have to hear both sides . . “

Snape Flippinf Tables.gif

 

For the first time in my life, I realized that my existence as a Black Woman was in no way separate from my position/worth in some of the relationships in my life. I was the Black friend,  not the black friend.  I was being regarded as “hostile,” and “argumentative” for expressing an opinion.

Then, Mike Brown was Killed.

It was at this point, I started to lose friends in droves.  Before it had been, “Let’s just agree to disagree,” and precarious alliances were formed.  As long as I didn’t express my opinions, or acknowledge the unfairness of the USA, it was all fine.  But I couldn’t be quiet. I had to express myself, the pain was too great. First it was unfollowing people on FB, then I was being cussed out in the comments of my own posts, then it was people blocking me.

I’d never specifically expressed myself as a Black Woman around my friends.  I shied away from all that, because I understood it wasn’t worth the fight.  “Just shut up MJ, they won’t get it.”  Suddenly, I was trying to MAKE people understand.  I tried to have serious dialogues with people about race in America, and how it affects everyone in some shape or form.

Then, #BlackBoyJoy happened.

There was a video of a little Black boy dancing to some song, I honestly don’t remember what song.  I shared it on my FB page, with a comment like, “I love to see a Little Black Boy having fun!” There were probably some heart eye emojis, because HELLO! Lil Black Boys dancing is ADORABLE.

LILBOyDancing

The step sister of my best friend – my LONGEST friendship (since 5th grade Latchkey), my #WhiteBoyBestFriend – commented on the status something to the effect of, “All children having fun is beautiful, why just black boys?”

I can admit now, she caught me on an off day.  Any other day, I would have probably just blocked her.  But I had TIME that day. I didn’t call her out on my status, I sent her a FB message.  I’ve known her since she was 12 years old, and her mom married my best friend’s dad. I was trying very hard to maintain this relationship.  Maybe she didn’t understand that she was #AllLivesMattering my post.

I’d felt some time of way about her for years.  She, IMO, was the Epitome of what was wrong with America.  She was white, and entitled, and felt that everything should always go her way.  She had never had to be hungry, or experience life failures (to my knowledge), or fear for her life when she got pulled over by a cop.  She lived with her parents, was over 25 and had NO SHAME in that.  She did the absolute bare minimum on an hourly basis, and somehow, she felt she had the right to tell ME, that #AllLivesMatter.

I was tired of her, and her White Privilege.  Her Whiteness was offensive to me that day. I tried yall, I really did.

Seriously, my pride in beautiful black children is my own…allow me to have it without trying to make the focus about you and ur feelings

Calm your bitch down dude. I asked a genuine question. There is absolutely no need to jump down my throat. You know, I used to believe you were a tolerant and understanding person, but I have to say that I no longer see that in you. I see a very angry person and that saddens me. I don’t know what happened but I feel sorry for you.

Note: My response . . . and hers. I started off doing so well, right?!?!? Like I didn’t call her out her name, or ANYTHING. Because, growth.  But after her response tho . . . I went the FUCK OFF.

So since you already pity me [I’ll] tell you this. You live in a world that doesn’t exist. You are the EPITOME of White Privilege and Frailty. If you have paid attention to ANYTHING I’ve posted in [the] last 3 years, you would know “what’s wrong with me.” You are vain, and selfish, and I pity what your life is going to become.

Keep talking bitch

Of course I had to call my best friend, and tell him what had happened.  I screenshot the convo, and told him I understood if he wanted to fall back on our friendship for a while.  Thankfully, he said, “That’s between you two.  I’m not in it.” It was at that moment when I had to remind myself – They aren’t all like that.

Some Facts which, at this point, must be Stated:

  • Whiteness is a threat to most people of color. Anytime I, in my Blackness, challenge the status quo (Whiteness), I am attacked in various ways and on multiple levels.
  • White Women, and their fragility is harmful to the voices of People of Color.  I’m tired of quieting my voice so that white tears can be heard.
  • I Don’t Hate White People. I hate White Privilege.

All this has been written to say: I’ve been entirely too quiet about this feeling of . . . unease I have regarding our current  society.  My fear/anger is turning me into a person who pushes buttons on purpose.  I wear/purchase shirts just to piss off the people I see.  I wear my hair in an Afro to offend the eyes of people who dislike – or are uncomfortable with – Blackness. I put color in my hair because I know people think it’s “Ghetto,” not creative, because I’m Black.

There are a myriad of White people in my life on a daily basis.  I have White friends on FB, Instagram, and at work.  Lately, I’ve had to put disclaimers on my status’ and posts, and what I say in group settings.  Sometimes I don’t even speak at all.  Because of the impact it could have on my job, my life, my relationships is too great. {Which is a PROBLEM}

The . . . silencing of my voice is getting to me.  It’s making me fall into depressive states on a regular basis.  When I trace back the origins of all my waves of depression in 2017, it was an instance when I silenced myself in some way.

Tupac Shhhhh

I’m not Racist . . . . I’m Black. This shit is HARD.

Before I’m a woman, before I’m a Social Worker, before I’m a Friend, before I’m a Daughter, I’m Black.  The burden of that . . the weight of that in today’s society is slowly sucking the Joy out of me.  It’s like you have a 1,000,000LB weight on your back, and every white person can’t see it.  Better yet, they keep saying to you, “Girl, it’s just 3 flights of stairs.  You can do it, because I did!” It’s making me bitter. It makes me think snide ass comments about Whiteness, then feel bad for thinking it.

To ME: My Blackness is beautiful.  My skin is damn near flawless, I haven’t aged since I was 12 (I have the pics to prove it.) My hair is amazing.  I can do 1000 things with my natural hair, and it will be just as beautiful. My curves are sexy – these hips can hurt you if I want them to, or they can change your life. The original woman probably looked just like me.

To Society: My Blackness makes me less than. My Blackness is ugly, and the exact opposite of Beauty. My hair is ugly, dirty, and nappy.  My curves are unhealthy and I don’t deserve to sit comfortably in any chair, ever.  People who looked like me, were shaped like me, where kept in museums and displayed at circuses. {Look up Venus Hottentot}

Adulthood for me, is finally understanding the real meaning of the following poem:

Mother to Son

BY LANGSTON HUGHES

Well, son, I’ll tell you:

Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

It’s had tacks in it,

And splinters,

And boards torn up,

And places with no carpet on the floor—

Bare.

But all the time

I’se been a-climbin’ on,

And reachin’ landin’s,

And turnin’ corners,

And sometimes goin’ in the dark

Where there ain’t been no light.

So boy, don’t you turn back.

Don’t you set down on the steps

’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.

Don’t you fall now—

For I’se still goin’, honey,

I’se still climbin’,

And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

This is Blackness in 2018.  This is Me.

Can You Hear Me? Do You See Me?

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Shut Up and Make that Man a Sandwich . . . or My Slow Journey into Feminism

…Black Feminist?

fem·i·nist

adjective Sometimes, fem·i·nis·tic.

1. advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.

Now, before you go judging me based on the Title of this Blog alone (which is totally why I choose the title, because I knew some people would read it and get angry) let me at least try to explain my point of view. I was raised by a Strong Independent Black Woman.  My views on the world were hugely impacted by my mother’s struggles as well as her accomplishments.

I was taught that I was going to have to work twice as hard to get half as much, and that is just how the world is.  So when the concept of Feminism entered my life, I was very much set in my ways.  I fought attaching the title of Feminist to my person, because everything I had ever learned made Feminism quite unappealing.  There are several different Feminist viewpoints I’ve used to try to figure out where I stand.  I’ll use 3 of them to support my ‘argument’ as it were. So please, follow me on my journey into Feminism.

1) Black Twitter Feminists vs. Black Twitter Misogynists

According to Black Twitter . . . anyone who uses that statement in any way – who isn’t completely trying to DISPROVE or DEBUNK what ever follows it – shouldn’t be trusted.  Point. Blank. Period. Black Twitter is usually a HORRIBLE representation of Black Group Think.  Sadly, the majority of the people who have been made most famous by Black Twitter are complete idiots.  But then, that’s my opinion.  For all you know I could just be saying that because I’m not part of the Black Twitter Elite.

Anyway, back to my point.  The first time I read anything that had to do with the Black Feminist Movement, it was on Twitter.  So I started following certain people, because their viewpoints were intriguing and different from anything I had ever seen.  However, after week Three of the $200 date debate, I realized that the loudest people were the ones that seemed to not even understand what Feminism was.

Male Black Twitter: All women should be glad we are even paying attention. They are flawed from the jump. From their thighs that touch in every picture to their nappy ass natural hair. Be grateful for this attention. I don’t have to give it to you. Also, if you are talking during any major sporting event, it better be to ask me what I want for dinner, or tell me it’s already done.  Your place is serving me.  My allowing you to serve me is giving you power.  Embrace that shit, and smile.

Black Feminist Twitter: Men are useless. We are strong enough to impregnate ourselves if we just put our minds to it. Men hate women, and because they make negative remarks they are clearly gay and wish they were women. Also, every time a woman is attacked, all men resort to calling her a whore/ugly/fat.  This is because these men secretly want to date these same women.  However, do to their massive inferiority complex, they would never approach these women.  In private, all men cry at night for the wrongs they have done women.  Lastly, Black Men date White Women because they are afraid of the strength the Black Woman holds.

Honestly, I really had never really thought about Feminism and it’s effect on my everyday life.  I was too worried about being Black and Fat.  Being a woman came in a distant third as something that was holding me back in society.  So what people thought my place was, in the long run was irrelevant.  I was much more concerned about my next paycheck.  But then, I got a job that shoved me RIGHT SMACK DAB into the Feminist Movement.

Oh . . . . okay.

2) Married White Feminists with Long Straight Hair and Good Jobs

Nothing says Feminist like a White Woman.  Whenever I think Feminism, I ALWAYS see two images.

1) An angry white woman yelling holding a NOW sign.

2) Gloria Steinem in a Playboy Bunny Outfit.

It always seemed to me, when you don’t have to worry about the major in things in life (food, clothing, shelter) you have much more free time to focus on societal issues.  Having to hear a white woman tell me she is sorry for how my life has gone is just . . . Take your White/Liberal Guilt and ease on down the road.  Heffa, you don’t know my struggle.  And watching The Help has not made you an expert on the Black Experience.  Your Great Grandfather making his fortune on the Backs of Slaves just means that’s what he did.  You aren’t obligated to fight for me.  Don’t become flustered or uncomfortable when I decide to fight for myself. Precious Lord Take My Hand, and help these women STOP thinking that apologizing makes my struggle go away.  It doesn’t.

When your skin is black, all other labels are pushed to the back burner.  Plus, what school textbook was going to teach me about Audre Lorde, Angela Davis, Nina Simone, and Bell Hooks? I know about them because I watch Netflix and random Documentaries. Feminism has always presented itself to me as a White Person’s Movement. One amazing example of this was the #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen treading topic on Twitter created by Mikki Kendall. So many ‘famous Feminists’ were so upset that Black Women were blatantly saying they weren’t (and had never really been) a prominent part of the Feminist Movement.

Google the word Feminist.  The first 40 pictures are of white women or white men.  I didn’t even know there were African American women from the beginning of the Feminist Movement.  Because these women didn’t identify as Feminists.  They identified as women who were trying to make a better life for themselves and those who were going to follow them.  They were fighting for Civil Rights, or Voting Rights, or Gay Rights. But first and foremost they were seen as Black Women.

3) The Feminists I’ve met in the last 9 months

9 Months ago, I began working for a domestic violence organization.  It was a job I took because I wanted to work with the children in the shelter.  I have several people very close to me who were affected by DV as children, and they most of them have said the trauma is still with them today.  Imagine my surprise when my job wasn’t just about working with the children, but their mothers as well.  The organization I work for stresses Empowerment over Enabling.  I spent the first 6 months trying to figure out what that meant.

We live in a society that devalues women every day.  In the media, in songs, in movies, on television.  Women have to fight for an inch while most men are 1000’s of miles ahead of them.  At 31, I had accepted that fact, but didn’t understand the root of the issue.  It’s not angry white men, or angry black men . . . It’s privilege. As long as ANYONE has a perceived advantage over someone, there will never be a real change in society.  In August of this year, I attended the Forging Justice Conference held in Detroit, and met same of the most amazing people! They all embraced the title of Feminist, and they were completely different in every way.

One of the speakers was Melissa McEwan of Shakesville.com. Listening to her speak showed me, even though it seems every person who attached the moniker Feminist to their name is worried about self, there are some people out there who get it.  Who understand that Feminism isn’t JUST Equal Pay for Equal Work, or getting more women jobs in large corporations.  It’s educating the masses about every problem/concern/barrier every woman has.

Another Feminist who continued to challenge my idea of what Feminism looks like was Marc Grimmett.  He presented his documentary, My Masculinity Helps.  In a very realistic way, his movie explores the many avenues by which we can help young black males become an integral part of the Movement.

I also met Ashon Crawley, a contributor for the Crunk Feminist Collective. Besides being one of the most eloquent people I’ve ever met, his message was something I had never encountered. Talking about how the Church and ‘Sacred Texts’ played a huge part in the creation of such a misogynistic society was like . . . Mind = Blown.

Feminism became something different for me.  It’s wasn’t marching and protesting, it was honest discussion about why there need to be changes, and how to go about it in a way that will actually make a difference.  Not just #WhiteGirlProblems or #MuslimGirlProblems, but society’s view of women as a whole.  From Rape Culture to The Pornification of Today’s Youth to why Blurred Lines is the world’s most Rapey Song of 2013. Feminism can be about education, and health, and relationships, and everyday life.  So where does this leave me?

Awareness comes with a cost. Once you are aware of an injustice, ignoring it is like committing that act, or perpetuating that problem yourself.  So I can’t blast Blurred Lines, without thinking of my clients who heard those same words while their significant other violated them.  It means: I can’t support an artist who objectifies themselves, and markets that objectification to young girls. It means: I feel some kind of way when Chris Brown says he “lost his virginity” at the age of 8.  It means: I have to question my support for certain people based on their actions. It means: I don’t have the stomach for certain behaviors anymore.  Labeling myself a Feminist is a difficult transition and responsibility.  Embracing the Feminist that lies dormant inside of me means letting go of some of my ideals.

So yes, when I grow up, I want to be a Feminist. But until then, the Journey continues.