I am black. Furthermore, I am a black woman. I was a queer black woman in high school — although I didn’t know the queer part yet. I was a queer black woman in college. I am a queer black woman in college. I am a queer black woman now, graduated from college. I am a queer black woman at work, surrounded by people who are NOT queer black women. I am a queer black woman in spaces where “we don’t talk” about race, about sexuality, about gender. So, everyone will have to forgive me when I break these rules made by people who are not queer black women. When I bring race into their sacred spaces because I cannot help that it comes with me. To let me into a space is to accept that that race-less space will be desecrated and the little color–blind bubble white people like to hide in will be popped.
I got in trouble for this a work. When a cis-het white man had the nerve to stand in front of me and tell me I was creating an us vs. them mentality that perpetuated racism, I did not shrink back. I did not hesitate to put him in his place and shit that down. Because I am a queer black woman and I will not have my humanity and personhood disrespected.
My reward was gas lighting. My reward was tone-policing (although, I must say, my tone was not even at a point where it should have activated their policing). Being told I was aggressive. The parade of “I understand but–” and “inappropriate for the camp.” “Inappropriate for the children.” The “we’re suspending you but we think you’re amazing.”
But see, when I signed my job contract, I did not sign up to be disrespected and indulge white people in their colorblind fantasy. I did not sign up to take the blame for white fragility and straight nonsense. This is where capitalism and racism form a sickening relationship. Black women are expected to barter our humanity for survival. Tolerate racism for a paycheck so we can put food on the table.
Perhaps it is my fresh-out-of-college could-probably-ask-my-parents-for-money naivete, but I refuse to partake in this humanity-for-money economy the “real world” is supposedly about. I refuse to indulge white nonsense at the cost of my mental health, my self-worth, my personhood. However, I also realize this is a privileged position that not everyone can have. Some people are forced to stay and have their humanity questioned with micro and macro-aggressions and must deal with the gas lighting that accompanies white desire for a “perfect world” and maintaining what Ta-Nehisi Coates refers to as “the Dream.” So, to affirm every black woman dealing with the gas lighting and “yes but you were aggressive” and “I’m not racist,” We are not wrong. We are not crazy. White people, I’m convinced are born with a special gene that helps them to twist and writhe at every accusation of racism until they convince black women like me that it was our fault. They we’re being sensitive. That we’re imagining things. That we should call them in a “nicer way.”
Fuck that. We owe them no apologies and no explanations. If the cost of keeping the peace is our humanity and physical and mental wellbeing, then may they never have peace.