I am a young black woman in America and I am tired. I’m tired ya’ll. I’m tired of America and all it’s bullshit. I’m tired of hearing that Privilege is not a reality.
For most of my life I have endured some form of racial or socioeconomic prejudice. Donald Trump is not the beginning of my struggles as a black woman in America. He is most certainly not the end. For years, I have been subjected to racial, gender, and socioeconomic stereotypes. This shit is not new. This is not up for debate. The message is clear: there is more work to be done.
Picture this: I was raised in the Yankeeist of Yankee states (Rhode Island). I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood where my family was the first (and only) black family for miles and years. I can only remember one or two other black kids in my elementary school. I was the only black kid in my class for most of elementary school. Keep in mind that my Grandparents raised me. My ‘Southern- Baptist- born -and- raised -on- farms -in -Newberry, South Carolina’ Grandparents. My ‘married- at- 18- and -24-mama-didn’t-raise-no-fool-I’ll-beat-that-tail-go-get-me-a-switch’ Grandparents. See where I’m going with this?
Of course, I had to adapt in order to remain safe in my neighborhood. I had to have friends–people to talk to. But my Grandfather was so hell-bent on not being accused of rape or other sexual inappropriate advances if ‘one of my little white girl friends” slept over. There were no sleepovers. And my Grandfather was also not hearing it if I asked to sleep over ‘one of my little white girl friends’ house. I could be accused of stealing or some other shit. He was living in the North but still living in the fear of Jim Crow South. He lived that life. And he was not going back to that.
As a kid, I listened to my Grandparents pass judgement on white people that seemed to conflict with the fact that there were white people in our neighborhood that called them Mom and Pop. It didn’t matter. Unlike my generation, my Grandparents had to live through the height of the fire-hoses, dog chases, and accusations. Looking back, my Grandparents were Woke as fuck because they knew that they had to be peaceful in a land where they would never truly be safe. I do not believe that my Grandparents were racist. They loved people. They didn’t care what color your skin was–if you had an appetite and good conversation, you could come to dinner. BUT they also knew what it was like to be on the receiving hand of the white man’s bitch slap-happy hand. At no point in my childhood do I EVER remember my Grandparents believing that any race was superior to another. They did not make judgements because they thought they black people were superior. They were PREJUDICED because they EXPERIENCED RACISM and were subjected to living in the fear that any white person could infringe upon their basic rights that all HUMANS are ENTITLED to. But it is so much more complex than that.
Can black people be racist? Fuck, yes. Can black people be racist against white people? How? To be racist is to have the ability to exert an existential amount of power over another race. America was literally built by the broken backs of black people for the profit of white people. From the beginning, we did not have the power. For centuries, America has operated in some form of the idea that black people are less than whites. We have never had the power.
We have been taught from birth that white people (in some form) are scary. We are literally TAUGHT to fear the white man. But they want us to get over slavery? It’s 2016 and every time I walk into a room full of white people I get nervous. I’m hyper-vigilant because I know that I’m being judged because of my brown skin. The parameters of our oppression might have changed, but the fundamentals have not.
How can we be racist if we are merely reacting to the FEAR of our safety? Prejudice? Absolutely. But racist? No. Some of my good friends are white but I would be lying if I said I was colorblind. I have always been cognizant that my white friends could flip the script in a heartbeat if it were necessary for their survival.
This post might be finished, but I’ve got more to say. Stay tuned. This might end up being a 5 part series.