Oh, White People

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If you can’t muster the courage to be an ally– at least be very mindful of what you do say!

Oh, white people it’s going to touch you

How much longer do you think you can ignore it?

You love your favorite basketball player, but the racism—you didn’t sign up for it

But it only starts with Lebron

It doesn’t end there…it goes on

It’s your boss, your neighbor—even your best friend becomes hate crime victim

While you sit idly by, still pretending there is no racism

I mean, what year is it?

You are above it

You voted Obama as president

You deserve the right to be passive and silent

 

I am just so curious

I need to know how long does it take to notice the elephant in the room has already had babies

And is raising an entire dysfunctional family

I am not asking you to fight for me

Just wake up and acknowledge that yo, you fucked up, B

Every nigger joke that you let slide—hell, every nigga lyric you rapped

Every all lives matter post you hashtagged

You don’t get it, and now you missed it

The revolution has already begun, son

And you have chosen Switzerland

Because of that we can’t be friends

I don’t have the luxury of ignoring social unrest

My mental is distressed

My brothers and sisters are dying

Please don’t say you don’t know why, because in the back of our minds we want to say fuck you

And your whole crew, too

We were brought here for your labor, allowed to stay for your entertainment

Cultural confinement

It feels like living in a zoo

And it’s cute when we have our rallies and marches as long as it doesn’t bother you

You are not neutral

You are lazy and apathetic

You are pathetic

And it ain’t right but I almost have more respect for the so-called “alt-right”, at least they had the balls to choose a side

You hide

Behind Facebook reposts and thumbs up on Kiana’s status

You don’t know what it’s like to live like this

It’s going to touch you

Better yet, hit you like a ton of bricks

And it will be too late to ameliorate this shit

“Black people should just stop committing crimes” is a phrase that echoes from your privileged lips

Tell me, who deserves to die from selling loose cigarettes?

Or for wearing a hoodie while carrying a Skittles packet?

Or from routine traffic stops

Just stop

And take this moment to tell yourself the truth

You don’t care as much as you say you do

OR

Maybe you fear the work involved and the loss of friends

Just remember, when you choose no side the evil party wins

 

It’s going to touch you

Creep into your soul; haunt your dreams at night

You Netflix and chillin while the rest of us are at war and we fight

I hope your grandchildren ask you your thoughts on fundamental civil rights

I hope they want to know where you were during the real emancipation

And I hope you give in and tell them something real

That you checked out because you just couldn’t deal

A “Fuck Trump” bumper sticker is as far as you could go

You didn’t know your voice could have a powerful impact

That you could do your part to pick up the slack and help bring decent humanity back

America is bullshit right now, for us it was never great

Your silence is not a worthy component to conquer all this hate

So sorry to wake you up out of your comfortable slumber

But are you grabbing a bucket or is this ship going under?

There is no fence to straddle

There is no grey, just black and white

Just wrong and right

…you gotta choose

Because my friend, it’s going to touch you

 

I have said it once and I am saying it again; I do not like talking about this stuff on the blog. The subject of race, politics, religion etc. is a minefield! As a practitioner and teacher of empathy I acknowledge that it is difficult to communicate with people in such a way that they not only come to an understanding of your personal plight, but also make the effort to change their way of thinking. Furthermore, addressing a group of people who consider themselves peaceful, non-combative and believe they are genuinely good people, free of bias and prejudice could perhaps even have me labeled as a bully. But it’s my blog, so here we are…

I was born and raised in the Washington, DC area. I live in Prince George’s County Maryland—one of the most prominent and prosperous black counties in the nation—and I have always worked in either DC or Northern Virginia. For those who don’t know, Southern Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington, DC is known as the DMV and is home to a unique culture in and of itself. We are a melting pot of different ethnicities and diverse backgrounds on top of including the nation’s capital where all the dirty politicians dwell. Because of our culture of political correctness I never understood the different levels of racism, prejudice and bias until well into my twenties.

As a teen in high school I didn’t understand why none of my white guy crushes liked me. When I entered into the workforce at 19 I didn’t understand why white people were so taken aback by how articulate I am, and I didn’t really understand that white people were capable of appearing woke as fuck, but more than likely went home to their white lives and immediately stopped giving a fuck. In the DMV area we are the nucleous. News stories have a deep impact here and if you are not talking about Kaepernick, insert-protest-march-here or Trump’s latest tweet then you are not a part of the conversation. Washingtonian white people are a part of the conversation because it is their business and in their best interests to be so. However, it took me longer than I’d care to admit to realize that being in the know is not the same as giving a fuck.

For me, the worst kind white people are those who immerse themselves in black culture and claim to not see color but do not consider themselves allies nor do they want to acknowledge that the need for allies exist. I sat in silence during the election season as I listened to my Republican friends say things like, “Ugh, I don’t know who to vote for– both Clinton and Trump are so awful!” It felt like a stab in the back to my face—if that makes sense. I thought to myself, “So you are ok siding with racism and misogyny because your loyalty is to your political party and not decency and humanity? Duly noted.” I didn’t purge as many friends as I probably should have, but I peeped the bullshit and I am aware.

I am aware of the white people in my life who remain silent or eerily neutral when the topic of racism comes up. I am aware of the white people in my life who are uber liberal arguing you down about feminist rights, pontificating about LGBTQ rights and debating you about the top ten hip hop albums of all time. But, I peep when those same people are passive, evasive and vague during group conversations about race relations as if they are too afraid or unwilling to say, “That is racist. That is unjust. That is not ok.” Period. I liken it to a silent gaslighting where I literally begin to feel like as if I’m crazy and I ask myself “Am I playing the black card? Was that shooting indeed a racist act of violence or am I overreacting?”

The kind of white person that quietly wonders to themselves why all lives don’t matter and loves black people but wishes we would chill and stop getting shot is fast becoming my least favorite kind of person. Maybe I am getting old, but I just can’t fuck with the duplicity like I used to. As tensions rise in our country, I am starting to treat silence as acquiescence. As much as I hate covering these kinds of topics I do it because it’s my life—and my life and my reality are not up for debate or opinion.

If you can acknowledge that fake news and sensationalism exists, then why can’t you admit that racism still does? Obama voted in as president does not magically erase the disturbing history of a country that was built on the backs of African slaves. Ignoring the existence of racism is a dangerous game—a weak one. It takes strength to dare to step out of your own delusion, admit that injustice exists and to check your own privilege and prejudices as well as those of your peers. It takes strength to make the decision to stand up to bigotry and hate when the safest move for your physical and mental health might very well be to try to remain neutral. The decision is not going to be easy, but you must decide.

If only people of color had the luxury of making such decisions.

 

Monkey

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*Author’s note: I usually don’t write this harshly, the words may be jarring but the message is real

I live in PG county, the richest black County in America. It feels like a chocolate city– if stay in my area for weeks I could go without seeing a person of another race that entire time. In PG County we say things like, “Oh that’s the hood post office, I don’t go to that one.” And, “I hate black people, lol” at some sort of behavior we find unacceptable or beneath us.

A few years ago, I ventured out to a hole in the wall bar in Nowhere, Delaware USA to see my friend’s boyfriend play guitar. Yes she is white, and he, and the whole freaking town but that didn’t bother me. I’m from PG county, my single income alone exceeded the dual income of most people in that town. I don’t have a degree but I have a reputation for being intelligent and witty and perfectly proportioned and appealing to my community.

I entered that bar knowing these things and I left it humiliated–knowing nothing and questioning my identity. I was bold enough to move to the front of the room and dance openly and awkwardly because that’s the kind of person I am and I will always be that person no matter where I go. I’ve been to hardcore rock concerts before and the worst case scenario is that you’re looked upon like an alien that’s fallen from the sky; best case scenario is that you’re ignored as if you don’t even exist. I learned to deal with this because my nights always ended back in PG county surrounded by others that lived in the same homey cocoon of complacency. You can be invisible elsewhere but in this county you matter.

I made my way back to my seat at the bar to drink another beer and converse with my friend. We were seated immediately in front of a rowdy pool table from which I could pick up tidbits of their loud conversation. I don’t remember all of the details now, everything happened in a blur and it was so long ago–but my ears picked up on the word “monkey”. It was spoken in surround sound but it landed on my ears like a whisper. Here you are thinking you’re so confident and cute– that you belong here. ..monkey. My body felt paralyzed, I knew I couldn’t have heard it right but even so, the air was charged I could feel the tension and unwelcome. This was happening. Such a small thing, right?  But I could feel the humiliation and outrage, caught between the desire to cry and wishing I had the strength to confront. What could I do? I was outnumbered and oh, how quickly those nice women I was up front dancing with could turn into “monkey hating enemies”.

I had to deny every thought that came into my head at that moment.  “Look at you with your big thighs and dreaded hair… you’re just a monkey to them.” “Look at you with your big butt and nose and legs, monkey. ” “Look at you, monkey. Who do you think you are? ” I shared what I had overheard with my friend and we immediately got the hell out of there no questions asked. Later she contacted the bar and her boyfriend and they were appropriately understanding and gracious about the whole thing.

…I was still mortified and left with a bad taste in my mouth. I just wanted to go home. Home where I was caramel, people complimented my hair and legs and smile. Home is where I was queen; celebrated and loved for the very same qualities that made me a “monkey”. One word of hatred made me forget who I was. PG County didn’t feel like a home for a while after that–maybe we were all just upper middle class monkeys in a zoo?

Who are you when someone steps in your face, and calls you monkey,  nigger? After all you’ve been through in life, everything you thought you stood for in that moment is washed away. They pretend to respect you, nigger. They know you are only capable of violence, nigger. You are poor and lazy and pathetic. ..NIGGER–no matter how you triumph personally or financially or spiritually in life. Fight with those thoughts every day; wrestle with the truth versus the perception of others, fight stereotypes and rejection from your very own race. Feel the anger and frustration, isolation and despair–then stuff it deep down and bury it all away. You can’t be expressing those things, black people aren’t entitled to negative emotions, what will the media say?  You can’t appear too combative, monkey, what will your co-workers think? Stuff it all down, bury it away–and for god’s sake keep your composure when someone looks you in the face and you can see it in their eyes that your life is worth nothing to them…

What Black History Memes to Me…

What Black History Memes to Me…

I’ve been seeing this sort of thing a lot on social media lately, and I have to admit– I have laughed every.single.time. I actually screenshot this image off one of my Instagram friend’s timelines and have since shared it with a bunch of people. Of course the other side of this coin has been seeing negative posts about this very thing, calling for black people to “do better” and not continue to disrespect our ancestors and history. I’m writing this blog post to say– settle down everyone, this shit is hilarious.

A large recurring theme in this particular blog is the concept of coping mechanisms to deal with the pain of life. I think this idea has negative connotation but surely there can’t be anything wrong with searching for healthy and more productive ways to channel your negative emotions? Flipping through the channels one day, I stumbled upon a Roots marathon. Awesome, right? Yeah not so much. The next day I had to go out in public and face the world again, white people included. There are no words to describe the hatred that boiled up inside of me laying eyes upon white people again after having watched a film that chronicled the cruel treatment of slaves throughout several generations. I mean, how DARE they? And how COULD they? And what made THEM believe that they were somehow not only better than us, but so much better that they had the right to regard us worse than animals! Normally when a blue eyed blonde girl steps on my foot on the metro it’s not a big deal—it’s just the nature of the crowded train. But that day, I was ready to fight. This privileged WHITE BITCH had the nerve to step on my foot like I didn’t even matter. She said excuse me but it sounded pretty condescending to me, and I swear all I wanted to do was punch her in her shiny pink lips!

On any given day I am definitely and absolutely not a racist—but the day after watching Roots had definitely turned me into one. Look up any video on YouTube or any news article and somewhere buried deep in the comments section you will find that racism not only exists but it’s not as quiet as it was maybe 20 years ago. In the age of social media and the internet, people seem to feel more anonymous than ever before and thus free to say whatever whacky thing they wish; be it racist, sexist, agist or just plain stupid (hence this blog!) I still don’t know how I feel about white people exclaiming “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” because it becomes unclear as to whether they are embracing the lovable randomness of Sweet Brown’s odd declaration or just making fun of black people and our culture in general. However, I am definitely not an activist and I don’t care to explore or question the motives of white people or other races. All I know is that when some shit is funny I am going to laugh.

I believe that one of most beautiful thing about black people is our ability to maintain our sense of humor and religion during desperate times. All the black history memes tickle me because it’s a reminder of what we as a people do best: take something negative and make it awesome. You think black people are lazy, poor, baby making weed heads that are incapable of intelligent conversation. Ok, think what you want but we laugh about it because at the end of the day we know who we are and no one can change that. This is also why I use the “N” word because I think it takes a lot of balls to take a word created out of hate and degradation and not only turn it into a term of endearment but then forbid the race of people that created the word to use it! From what I’ve observed this year, there seems to be either a staunch, militant regard for Black History Month or barely any acknowledgment of it at all (perhaps this is why my daughter’s elementary school is celebrating Peace Month— whatever the hell that is). Listen, let’s not forget the that the purpose of this month is not to make the white kids uncomfortable, but to remind America that we’ve been around for years and not only are we a part of the solid foundation of this country, but it also doesn’t look like we’re going anywhere anytime soon. Black history month really shouldn’t even be, because simply put, black history is American history that shouldn’t need a separate month to say “hey, don’t forget about us and our contributions!”

Personally, I am just as appreciative of all the history facts as I am of all the hilarious memes being passed around. I think we as a race have “done better” and we need to chill the fuck out and enjoy more of a balance. There’s nothing wrong with laughing in the face of adversity and making light of the past if that’s what we need to do to heal from it. Our ancestors worked the fields smiling happily and singing songs because they didn’t want their oppressors to see their struggle and to gain satisfaction from their pain. I don’t see anything wrong with using those same coping mechanisms today. I will laugh at your stereotypes against me and post a meme about the Tyrone Jenkins, the first black man to use someone else’s piss to pass a drug test, but maybe I’ve never done drugs. Maybe I busted my ass in college, and I’m working now, and I’m three paychecks away from a down payment on my own house before reaching the age of 30—but all you can see and criticize is the “ignorant” meme I posted on Facebook. And while you were looking over there—I was busy grinding over here, laughing the whole time because you never even saw me coming…