I’ve been struggling with how to write about my week of #racefail. From discussions about whether the word “diversity” is toxic to battles over representations of blackness in Disney movies to skirmishes with faculty and their hierarchies, I’ll be honest–
I feel like I’ve been fighting an uphill battle to keep my own sanity.
I eventually needed my own race-crisis hotline counselor to handle this particular brand of mess. That’s how deep this week was. I didn’t have one (come to find out & working on that) so I went to see Harry Potter, baked a platter of brownies, drank like a fish at happy hour and ended the week five pounds heavier with an incomplete to-do list and a hangover.
That we live in a society still drowning in racism–there is nothing new under the sun.
But that such small things, conversations really, still have the power to punch me or anyone in the gut–well, this is also not so new:
Certainly, the premature death of so many of our feminist foremothers— Gloria Anzaldúa, Barbara Christian, Audre Lorde, Nellie McKay, and too many others—is a cautionary tale about how deadly this work can be. ~susiemay, Crunk Feminists Collective
(No seriously–I could meditate on this post for the next month or more…)
You’d think we’d be used to it by now. The off-hand comments about hair texture and articulate speech. The flippant analysis of representations of blackness in film and media as “Oh, that’s just a movie.” The snide remarks about the influence of affirmative action on institutions of higher learning. The people we thought were allies who so often…actually….aren’t.
It is almost never malicious…but that doesn’t mean it is harmless. It doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t mean it isn’t racism.
But I still wasn’t going to post on it.
Until this post by @Mdotwrites (and its brevity) made me reconsider::
Is my work such an integral part of me, that if you don’t get it, I can’t fuck with you?
Mdot is writing about black male privilege and how (and when) to struggle against it. But she is also asking how and when is our personal wrapped up with our political? And to what end? Is there a healthy collaboration between the two? Do we do self care? Do we have a support system (or at least a working race-crisis hotline in our area)? What are our values and which ones are we willing to kill or face a loaded gun for? Which ones can we survive if hurt, maimed or destroyed? Which ones mean a slow death if betrayed? And what does it mean to betray them?
This week, there were times I spoke up and times that I remained silent. And I realized today that it isn’t my loud, nappy-headed mouth that keeps me reliving certain moments in anxious and stomach-twisty frustration with myself. It’s my self-policing silence.
Now where in all hell did I learn that trick from?