Having two months between my posts isn’t really all that surprising. What prompted me to write this is, although in all honesty it shouldn’t be. I’ve watched this storm brewing my entire life. I’ve seen the small emissions of heat seep out through the fissures of our society, not unlike that of a volcano.
A lot has gone on in the past two months that has kept me from writing, not the least of which has been my crushing depression. But there will be other times to write of that. Right now there is something more important. Something that goes beyond me–beyond my generation. Something that has been 400 years in the making.
I am still not able to quite put into words the anger, pain, exhaustion–the anguish–I am feeling right now. This is the type of anguish that can only be experienced after hearing, “now is not the time”; “be the bigger person”; “things are getting better”; “find a more effective way”. Years of “I’m not racist but…”; “it’s not about race”; “I don’t see color”; “well what about Black on Black crime”. It’s the type of exhaustion after a lifetime of carrying the brunt of bridging two worlds because I “speak so eloquently” and I “hold [my]self so well” and I very clearly have an appearance that isn’t too off-putting to the more conservative audiences.
You see, I am mixed, biracial, Black and White–the product of what happens when love ascends racial boundaries, or when two people reject and abandon their Race. It really depends on who and when you ask. I have lived my entire life hearing that I’m not “Black enough”. That I don’t deserve Black scholarships. That White women are “stealing our Black men”. I have also been told I can’t be a Disney princess because I’m not white. That I got into a program because of Equal Opportunity. That I had bugs in my hair. Despite the prejudice I faced on both sides, I have always stood up for my Blackness. I have always been quick to correct people when they wrongly assume my race. I have always been proud to stand with my Black grandmother and father. I have always mentally and emotionally placed myself in the front lines with my brothers and sisters, even when I wasn’t always welcome there.
I have often been seen as the “safe” Black friend. I am a translator who can speak the language of both sides. I am the one my White friends can go to with questions about race and culture with the knowledge that they will receive patience instead of anger. I spent most of my college career trying to facilitate the conversation. I was a soldier for the cause. No, I was an ambassador. But friends, I am tired.
I am tired of having to calmly explain to my non-Black friends why their passive racism is not okay. I am tired of proving that I AM a Strong Black Woman. I am tired of having to fake a grin at a poorly thought out statement because I’m not that Black and if I become THAT Black, well, let’s just say I’m not exactly living in the mecca of diversity. I am tired of carrying the pain that is embedded in my culture’s psyche while simultaneously feeling like I have no right to claim it.
I AM DONE. I am staking my claim. I AM Black and I DO have that right. I am angry. And I am sick of curtailing that anger for the comfort of others. I am sick of crying silent, hidden tears. I am sick of seeing racist posts from so-called friends. I am sick of having to explain the systemic illness of racism. I am sick of saying that electing a Black president does NOT make America less racist. If anything the disgusting backlash he faced his entire presidency is proof of the exact opposite. This is why we need allies. Because we are tired. I AM TIRED.
So what does the fight look like when you don’t look Black? I think it depends on your journey. I KNOW that I face a certain level of privilege because of my light skin. But I was raised Black. That means that I know that I am less likely to be targeted by the police, but I still make sure my hands are completely visible and my movements are slow when I am pulled over. The fear I have in those moments is enough to bring me to tears. I don’t care that not all cops are bad. This is reality. This is cultural trauma. This is witnessing time and time again Blacks being disproportionately harassed by the police. This is wondering if next time it will be my friend, my soror, my father. This is also claiming my slave ancestry with pride. They did not fall then, and we will not fall now.
What does your fight look like? How long have you been in the trenches? Have you been battling side by side with me for decades? Or are you just coming into your own? If you are new to this battle, can you please just hold my torch for a moment? I am weary. I need a rest away from the fields. I need a sip from the drinking gourd. I need some time to let the whip lashes of oppression heal some. Once they’ve scabbed over, I can come back out to fight. And then? And then our people will fly.