I am deeply uncomfortable. And that is the whole point.
I’ve been on this platform since March 2018. Last year among many other opportunities I had- since I was home a LOT and the news demanded it- time to read, study and really absorb the writing of my Black sisters and brothers.
While this is nothing new, the year’s events, which culminated in both an election and a riot which were both stunning referenda on racism in America and the headlong apparent to-the-death fight to Keep Things That Way, were a chance to get a whole ‘nuther level of understanding.
I’ve written about this a lot. Suffice it to say I have strong feelings, coming from a diverse background and years in diversity. All that did, really, was help me be porous to what I learned last year. Continue to learn.
While I can’t speak for anyone else, reading peoples’ comments on my Black Medium Peeps’ articles is an outright Master’s Degree course on White fragility. The denial, the condescension. One prime example was an Old White Man’s writing to one very smart Black woman who had vastly more credentials than he did:
“There, there, little girl. You just don’t understand how it is.”
To her credit she didn’t rise to the bait, for to do so was beneath her dignity, for when pig shit stinks, you don’t need to get any on your nice shoes. Lotta pig shit on social media platforms, Medium included.
One of my favorite writers, Rebecca Stevens A., writes regularly with that almost soft-spoken, hammer-in-a-velvet glove style to make her points. She has biracial kids, and is from Sierra Leone.
If that last sentence causes a particular picture to leap to mind, that of a Black woman, hair in a colorful turban with a kid on her hip, bare-breasted, living in a remote village, that’s part of the problem.
Rebecca has multiple degrees, speaks multiple languages. And like a great many other superbly talented Black women I know, if I understand her correctly, she is very, very qualified. In fact, again like most Black women I know, three times as qualified for the same jobs a mediocre White person would get without those credentials.
And there lies the rub.
This article was in my box today:
The Racist Friends We Need To Leave Behind
Some people hide their racism, but no matter how long they try to repress it, it eventually comes out in the end
While the whole piece is well worth reading, here is the excerpt that hits me in the face. She is describing her White husband’s friends, a pair of twins, who mocked her as being foolish to put in an application for a particular job. She did it anyway, got the job, and got ghosted by the friends. Then she heard their comments.
It turns out the twins had said to a friend:
“She’s a black woman, she should know her place. How dare she work for the World Economic Forum, she doesn’t have the right to”.
When our friend told them that I had the skills and qualifications to get that job, they had responded:
“We are tired of these black people taking our jobs. They should go back to where they came from. Swiss company jobs should only go to Swiss people — not to any other people and most definitely not to black people and black women at that”.
If you don’t find this highly offensive, with all due respect, you are part of the problem. If this doesn’t piss you off royally, you are part of the problem, as am I if I don’t find it racist and extreme.
Rebecca once wrote, as have others, that people in America love to claim that racism here in this country is just ever so much worse than anywhere else. I’ve traveled a great deal. To that, along with my other well-traveled, well-educated Black friends, the polite response is
You don’t get out much.
She’s in Switzerland. She runs into just as much racism there and when she travels.
Her stories, as are the stories from all the Black writers I follow, dig into my marrow, they hurt my heart, they infuriate the fuck out of me. They ring with the bell tone of brutal truth and underscore the battle that all of them fight, no matter where they live, who they marry. To be Black is to be marked; Black and female is to be reviled and assumed an idiot and most certainly unworthy.
I noted this past summer that the majority of my Black female friends close to me all have PhDs. All I have is a BS (which simply proves I’m full of it, but you already know that). All these women have more qualifications and credentials that I do, yet all too often, were we to compete for similar jobs, confirmation bias would ensure I’d have a better shot at a job for which my qualifications are without question woefully shy of the mark.
This is the world they write about. So when anyone wants to say tut tut “little girl,” you don’t know how it is out there, I feel like screaming FUCKWIT. Because that’s precisely what we’re dealing with. Folks who can’t see, don’t wanna see, and when forced to see, deny deny deny.
For to do otherwise is to be deeply uncomfortable. Truth usually does that.
Not to coin a phrase or anything but it also sets us free. For when our Black and Brown sisters et.al. are still enslaved, so are we all.
So are we all, folks.
Truth doesn’t care if we don’t like it. It only cares if we have the courage to embrace it, allow it to soak in.
Know that little window that pops up on your computer screen and asks you if you want X program to make changes to your computer? This is the same thing. Information changes us. Enhances us, broadens us, and expands our understanding.
That’s what being porous is.
That’s the main reason why I read Black writers on Medium. I want to understand, to see, to learn and to embrace their larger truths. Those things change how I see, how I write, how I vote, what I write in emails to my elected representatives. For in doing so perhaps we can set each other free.