Listen. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I’m a woman of very, shall we say, definite opinions. I try extra hard to be fair, but I have a perspective, a point of view, a narrative, and I have no qualms in advancing it.
That doesn’t mean that I always want to talk about race. Or gender bias. Or sexism. Or politics. Or police violence. Or white supremacy. In fact, I rarely want to talk about any of those things. I’m tired of talking about those things.
Do I feel deeply about the issues of the day? Yes. Do I abhor the continual injustices visited upon Black bodies in this country? Yes. Do I want change? Absolutely. You better believe I do, and I’m more than willing to do my part, to vote, to set the example, to sign the petitions, to speak out, to vote, did I say that already?
Do I want to discuss those things ad nauseum? No. Not in the least.
I’ve been existing in a black body for decades now. I understand how the game works. And to all the Johnny-come-latelies who are now “learning and listening” etc, etc. Good for you. I’m glad you’re now dialed in, and I hope that being more aware changes your behavior and expands your horizons in wonderfully positive ways. I mean that. I’m not being sarcastic.
I do not want to discuss your awakening. Frankly, I’m confused why you’re just now “waking up” to the horrors of institutional racism and the systemic oppression of Black people. Yes, now we have all of these exceedingly graphic videos to bring black-themed embarrassment, mistreatment and even death porn right to your phone. So, you can see everything firsthand in such a bold and horribly disgusting way that ignoring it makes you a jerk. But it’s not like you didn’t know Black people existed, right?
Racism has always been a thing. Nothing that Black people are going through now is new. Nothing.
So, please. Before you call me to chat and bring up some foolishness, read the room. Am I having a good day? Do I sound happy? Did I introduce a controversial topic first? If I did, then Bob’s your uncle, as they say in England. Go for it. I opened the door. Let’s kick it in and talk straight.
If I sound happy, and I’m talking about my hilariously #basicaf cooking experiments with Korean food. Or the refreshing bike ride I took this afternoon, please let me live. The continuous Breonna Taylor-esque fuckery that is racism in the U.S. is not something I want to discuss all the time. It’s hurtful. It’s mentally exhausting. It’s infuriating. It’s energy draining, and I have better things to do with my mental and physical resources than to commiserate, explain, or ease anyone’s discomfort about said fuckery.
I’d rather laugh at my rather plebeian attempts to plate things attractively for Instagram. Or talk superhero movies and movies in general, since I truly miss going to the theater in the time of COVID. Or talk about how slowly my effort to downsize my possessions is going, but that I feel better each and every time I donate items and clear out more clutter.
I feel entirely comfortably saying that most Black people are tired. We’re tired of fighting for equality. We’re tired of explaining the obvious. We’re tired of defending our right to exist peacefully without being constantly importuned by white people on one misguided pretext or another. Please. Leave us alone. Let us live. If you will engage us, please do so like you have some sense. Speak to us first as people. Yes, we’re Black. No, we don’t need to be reminded of that.
Talk to us like a friend, someone you want to get to know. Not someone you need validation from because you want assurance that you’re not a bad person. Most of us are not psychologists. We are not being paid to head shrink your issues. So, please, don’t expect us to.
- expect us to explain what’s going on in the world and why it’s happening
- expect us to pat you on the head and assure you that you’re not a bad person just because you’re white and have been happily benefiting from privilege that you just now acknowledge or realize; or
- expect us to jump on board with your outrage at what’s going on in the world and why it’s happening
…Make sure we want to have that conversation.
See, I believe that part of the reason Black people are so afflicted, is because we allow white people to spend too much time in our heads. Too much! You’ve heard that phrase, “you’re allowing INSERT PERSON HERE to live rent free in your head”? That’s real.
Black people spend too much time thinking and worrying and wondering and trying to figure out white people. That is half our problem. The other half is when we’re not thinking about them, they notice, and those wrong ones decide they’re offended by you having the audacity to live peacefully and not be concerned about what they’re doing. So, they make it their mission to come and bother you for no reason. Insert endless sundry Karen stories here.
White people don’t spend nearly as much time thinking about us. They’re too busy engaging in hobbies, traveling, exercising, working, pursuing their dreams, and just generally living their lives. In this, we should ape their ways. We should copy! We should appropriate! And when those wrong ones come to derail, we must quickly dismiss, disregard, and get back on track.
If Black folks spent as much time thinking about: ourselves, our families, our prospects, our health, our ideas, our education, how to make our lives better as individuals and as a collective, how to beautify our environment, how to be financially stable, how to enjoy life more, how to embrace happiness, how to feel better despite the myriad variations of shitty hands we are often dealt, we’d be infinitely better off.
So, please. Don’t automatically assume I want to engage in conversation about negative Black subject matter simply because I’m Black. I am too blessed to be stressed. And I will no longer tolerate anyone who was not explicitly chosen by me to occupy space in this temple called my mind.