It is pride day, and I am inside a drugstore in the middle of midtown Manhattan somewhere. I am walking through the aisles looking for refreshment, to help me survive this long and exhausting day. This is the first year that I am out as a Queer black woman, and even if I am not a huge fan of parades or drinking, I allow my friends to drag me out to this “liberating and celebratory” event. I feel as though, as a queer black woman, I am obligated to go to pride and show my support for the victories that we as a queer community have had in America so far. Come to pride and celebrate how love has won in America. And how love always wins in America.
All day, I am in a little bit of a mood, I feel off and the duality of personality that usually creeps up on me when I am doing something that I know is contradictory to my feelings, starts to surface. I am constantly snapping at my friends, and going on rants about the suffocating and choking presence of the NYPD all around us. They are on every block, about a police officer for every parade go-er. They have barricades, and check points and they are constantly stopping people, asking questions and making the hot sweaty day even more miserable for me. As I walk around for a couple of hours within the crowd, and the police. I feel myself begin to reach my breaking point and I ask my friends if we can take a break and find a corner store to buy a drink. Luckily, when I mention that alcohol would be involved, they agree happily.
I approach the hair section in between the aisles of the drug store and I come across a sign, a sign that was my un-doing for the rest of the day. Thinking that I would be able to come into the drug store and take some solitude form the madness going on outside, just to be confronted with this. It was like the universe was telling me, Thelma; you cannot hide from this. It is a part of the world you live in. it is in every step you take, every breath you make, every person you see and every moment that passes in your life.
The sign said multi- cultural. Looking down on the shelves; I look at what exactly this section was composed of. Just like similar “ethnic” sections of the stores I have frequently visited, it is a small scraping together of products that black women can use on their natural hair, and then of course the most disgusting and insulting part of this section. The skin whitening cream. I don’t have time on this essay to go on about the psychological effects of that and what it says to us as black women, but it will definitely be explored and written about by me at a later time.
For this essay, I want the focus to be on the illusion versus the reality, and how we so easy close our minds to things that are right in front of our faces, and live in a falsified bliss. To celebrate pride and feel like love wins, when the police are continuously harassing and murdering queer and trans people of color every single day. When we live in a system, whose white supremacist ideas constantly oppress and belittle our people. When the NYPD is a constant reminder of the systems oppression and control over us. SO much control, that even on the day that were supposed to be celebrating some supposed freedom and liberation we are not even allowed to walk on the streets except in barricaded and controlled areas, where thousands of police officers watch our every move as well as circle several helicopters over our heads. In a manipulative guise to protect us from “terrorists”, and Oakland killers, people that are direct products and representations of the same system that they work for. Where we have queer people of color, in the police force, taking selfies and supporting the same organization that has wreaked absolute havoc on their people since the beginning of the colonization of Africa. The absolute disrespect and disregard that is constantly thrown in your face when you walk into stores and see things like a multicultural sign, because apparently half of the hair companies didn’t think you were important enough to make hair products for. And even when they do, just so you know your place, you are being separated and marginalized in a small dusty corner, with bleaching cream, named multicultural.