BEST of the Day: “You can’t say shit to me until you have”
- Lived in a country where the color of skin excludes you from moving up to the upper echelons of your career choice.
- When someone can call you a racial slur and when you react back, you get expelled and they get a minor warning.
- When your teacher purposely skips an entire unit on your continent’s history claiming that it’s not necessary to learn.
- When your friends use racist jokes in an ironic way in an effort to show you how “they aren’t racist”.
- When you have been hired by a group of people to entertain them because of where you are from, and they treat you like animals in a zoo.
- When descendants of your race have had their identities so erased and eradicated that they can’t find their roots on a simple geneology search on Ancestors.com — they have to spend thousands of dollars to reconnect.
- When you are portrayed only one way in the media and therefore, when you do not fit that image, you are deemed either “a credit to your race” or “different”.
- When people can dress up as any anonymous person of your race and call it a fucking costume.
- Flipped through hundreds of fashion magazines and count on one hand the representations of your race.
- When a police officer can burst into a part in your dorm, break into a bathroom while you’re sitting on a toilet, and hold you at gunpoint. (Yes, this happened to me).
- When you are made to believe that your skin color makes you unattractive on a global level, and therefore, you must chemically change it, your eye color, and hair color/texture, in order to feel more accepted in a society that was built on telling members of your race that you are barely a second-class citizen.
- When every time a discussion about race comes up in class, everyone looks to you as a representative a your entire race, simply because you’re the only one in there.
- When a teacher of the race-in-power can accuse you in plagiarism on a handwritten in-class essay simply because someone of your race isn’t expected to have good diction.
- When in order to learn about your continent’s history, you have to take that class separately as an elective, or force your teacher to discuss the unit on it.
Privileged people will demand facts. Statistics. Your stories about oppression? Your experiences? They are not enough to convince privileged people that what you have experienced is real. After all, you are not a white man. Your experiences don’t automatically gain the “normal and natural” status. Your experiences may not be credible at all. They have no reason to believe your stories, because again, as white men, they don’t and can’t share them. Nevermind that all they have is anecdotal evidence, their personal experience to back up their beliefs. They are white. And male. And many other normal, natural things that make their opinions and experiences normal and natural…and yours kind of aberrant and not trust-worthy.—Robot Heart: Sex, Religion, and Politics
I’m not going to sit here and let someone tell me that we live in a post-racial anything just because we have a president who is black (and you all only claim he’s black when POC talk about racism and how it’s still alive and well, but he’s biracial when POC try to claim his as black).
I’m not going to sit here and let someone who is so privileged because of their skin color tell me that “not talking about it will eventually make it a nonissue”. You don’t think some of us have tried to function in a society without calling attention to our race, only to realize that because of the scaffolding of racism and white supremacy this country was built on that attention would be called to our race, whether we wanted it or not?
I am part of Manga African Dance—a non-profit organization that works to preserve indigenous African culture through dance, fashion, and education. Do you think, when our group gets hired to perform somewhere that I don’t get hit with racism?
Just this summer, I was in Alabama doing a performance at the Jacksonville Public Library. I actually had a white man sneer in my face when I was teaching about dances of the Disapora and how most dances and traditions done in America can be traced back to West Africa, where the Slave Trade was thickest.
Just this afternoon, I had to perform at the Congressman John Lewis’ Annual Multicultural Festival, and I had black college students come up to me and thank me for pointing out the missing links between Africans and their Black American and Afro-Caribbean/Brazilian descendants.
How many of you can go to Ancestry.Com and do a simple search of people who are related to you all the way back to their country of origin without spending more than a handful of dollars?
Blacks in America have to spend hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars to trace their ancestry by blood (not name) to see where in Africa they may have come from. They have to spend thousands of dollars to fly back to a continent their ancestors were unwillingly stolen from just to get some sense of connection.
So, when we live in a society where it’s okay to simply erase an entire race’s ancestral history from before slavery, and expect them to be okay with it; when you think just ignoring the misrepresentation of our race and culture in the media—the lampooning and caricaturizing of our very genetic make-up—just because it’s not offensive to you? I don’t care what you have to say. You can’t tell someone what is or isn’t offensive to their own race. When I see white kids getting Blackfaced and throwing on afro wigs and basically dressing up as a Black person as their Halloween costume, do you have any idea how disrespectful that is? How would you feel if someone dressed up as you for Halloween? So no, I won’t ignore racism, prejudice, or any other form of oppression. And when people tell me to? I only have one thing to say: