I'm not angry, I'm tired.
My great grandfather served in the US Navy before the military was integrated. Back then the only jobs Black men were allowed to have in the military were to be cooks or janitors. He was a cook. When he left the military he didn't get the GI Bill. He didn't get the home loan subsidies that white veterans received that allowed them to buy homes for very cheap and accumulate generations of wealth. Instead he worked in construction and was able to earn enough to buy a home in LA.
My grandmother grew up in rural Nebraska. Her grandmother was a white woman and her grandfather was a black man. Back then that type of relationship was quite illegal so she never got to know her grandmother because her grandmother gave birth to my great grandmother and left her because she couldn't be seen with a biracial child. Needless to say my great grandmother grew up with some hang ups about race.
My grandparents, great grandparents, and parents have told me about their lives and the role that their race has played in how they navigate this country. My grandfather told me about being drafted to Vietnam even though legally he could not vote. My grandma told me about having to call public pools before showing up to make sure they were integrated. My grandparents told me about how the city I grew up in used to be a mostly White neighborhood until more people who looked like them started moving in and all of the White people decided to move out. How after they left the cities were no longer thought about. The infrastructure crumbled. The schools became underfunded and right before their very eyes the homes in the "nice neighborhoods" that they worked so hard to move into became the ghettos that my parents struggled to grow up in.
Our families tell us these stories not to only let us know about our history that we never seem to learn in schools, but to also prepare us for the inevitable bullshit that's to come our way. Most kids hopefully get the sex talk before or when they reach puberty. Well we Black kids get two talks. Before we get the sex talk we have to get the race talk. The race talk is the talk your parents have with you to let you know that before they send you out into this world that you have to be aware that you are Black. That you may experience prejudice and discrimination because of that fact. I got my first talk when I was 5. That is why I laugh from a healthy place when white people lament "constantly being bombarded with race" when I have been dealing with it for a smooth 2 decades now at 25 years old. Or when they blame Obama for "making race relationshions worse than ever before" when my great grandmother was literally abandoned for being half Black.
The problem is that privileged people think these concepts and conversations surrounding race are new when in actuality we have spent our whole lives unpacking them. The only difference is that now we're able to be heard. Before the Internet our neighborhoods were separated, we were rarely portrayed in the media outside of racial stereotypes, and millions of people were able to grow up with minimal contact with Black people. And that wasn't an accident. The funny thing is that the Internet wasn't always this way. I first started surfing the web when I was 9 years old. I remember back then feeling compelled to either not mention my race at all or even just pretend to be white because I constantly had to deal with racism on the Internet. I'd watch them have conversations about how Black people were stupid, lazy and dangerous knowing that these people have probably never met a Black person in their lives. And when I finally decided to speak up and they found out I was Black they'd tell me "Oh you're different. I had no idea you were Black because you type in complete sentences and 'u don't t3pye lyk dis.'" I didn't know at the time that the word to explain this phenomenon was called white supremacy. Where the closer you are looking and acting like a white person, the better they treat you because you're not like "the other ones." But I knew it didn't feel like a compliment to me that they were trying to play it off as.
It's really confusing to grow up being told by your Black family that you act white because you speak in complete sentences and listen to rock music. But then you go out in the world and you're still treated like shit because you're Black. Putting aside the fact that rock n roll was invented by Black people, it still bugs me to to this day that music is racialized. It's the dumbest thing I still have to deal with today. "Oh you like Metallica, I thought you'd listen to 2 Chainz or something like that" (actual thing that was said to me, btw). So I wasn't really considered "Black enough" by my immediate family. But at school when I was called "Shaniqua" because my name was ~too hard to pronounce~, or I was told "you're pretty for a Black girl" I was definitely Black enough for them to constantly remind me that I'm Black. It really fucks you up after a while. But lucky for me I had a mom and a dad who constantly supported my interests. They would listen to rock music with me. They'd defend me to my bitch ass family members who tried to call me white when I clearly wasn't. Some kids don't get that, and it's sad.
I guess the point I'm trying to get at is that I'm trying to explain why when topics of race come up I literally have no patience left. I've seen a lot of low key white supremacist thinking on this site and it physically drains me. And when I say "white supremacy" I don't mean you wear hoods and burn crosses. I'm talking about the fact that a significant portion of you have grown up with slim to minimal contact with Black people. A lot of you have grown up internalizing the images you see of us in the media. A lot of you have spent most of your time internalizing your family's thoughts about us rather than the actualitiy of our lived experiences told through our actual stories from our own mouths.
I know what you're probably thinking right now. "Is Mishelle calling me a racist? Wtf, I thought we were friends!"
No. Get over yourself. I'm pointing out a system of living that has been intentionally developed in many western countries to keep us separate and unequal that we have had to grow up in and navigate. If this system has even affected Black people, it's pretty damn arrogant of you to think that you're completely unaffected by it and you don't see race and ~we're all people~. #JustlikeMLKwanted
You think I don't want to just be a person? I would love to just be a person. I'd love to not be told that the only reason I graduated college was because of affirmative action despite the fact that affirmative action doesn't exist in any college in this entire damn state. (And the gag is that affirmative action has disproportionately benefitted more white women than any other group covered by affirmative action #StayMadAbby) I would love to not be followed around stores. I'd love to not be pulled over by cops when I'm in the car with a young black man (or even worse TWO young Black men). I'd love to not be stared at when I enter a mostly white space. I'd love for people to stop touching my goddamn motherfucking hair.
I'm dead ass serious. I'd pay actual cash for it, who do I write the check to to get the "Stop Fucking Touching Mishelle's Hair" coalition going?
I'm constantly told that Black people just want to victimize ourselves in order to make white people feel guilty. Literally why? I get no tangible benefit from white people feeling guilty. I can't pay my bills with white guilt. My cat can't play with it. Can I cook with it? Is white guilt the new coconut oil? Why the fuck am I supposed to care about white guilt? I don't want guilt.
Or I'm told that we just want free stuff and everything to be handed to us. All I wanna know is where the fuck can I get free stuff for being Black? I need to know for research. The same thing happens to native Americans. They're told that they don't deserve basic respect because they apparently all get free government money when in actuality they're sitting on their shitty reservations like "bitch whereeeee??" I know they're not talking about welfare because first of all, everyone can get that shit, not just Black people. Second of all, anyone who has ever been on welfare or food stamps can tell you that you're not exactly ballin like Kanye when you get $200 a week for rent and bills.
The issue that I have is that I'm constantly finding myself having to explain our basic humanity to people. Like this is really up for discussion. And I'm constantly having the same conversations over and over again because privileged people seem to think their experiences with race are individual rather than a collective, systemic, societal issue. Like if I bring up cultural appropriation to a white person they think I'm telling them "you can't wear dreads because you're white, Becky. You might as well go kill yourself now." When that's not even remotely what's being said. No one is going to hold Kylie Jenner down and rip the cornrows from her scalp. What people are saying is "Hey, you're trying to make our culture trendy fashion for yourselves when it's not even socially acceptable on us. Can you maybe hold off a bit and use your privilege to help us stop being prejudged and profiled for wearing our own shit?"
All you have to do is hit up Google and you'll find a myriad of stories solidifying the fact that something as simple as our hair growing out of our scalps isn't seen as acceptable on us. Miss DC was told that she shouldn't wear her natural hair to the Miss America pageant. Black women are being sent to HR or passed over for jobs period for wearing their hair in natural styles or head wraps. Kids are being sent home from school because their natural Afros, braids or locs are seen as "unkempt" or "distracting." When Zendaya wore locs it was said that she looked like she smelled like weed. When Kylie Jenner wore them they were BOLD AND FIERCE. There are so many articles, think pieces, and YouTube videos explaining the difference between cultural appropriation, appreciation and assimilation. My good sis Google is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to explain everything you need to know. And yet every 2 weeks we have to continue to have this conversation. It's tiring.
But being tired definitely isn't going to stop me from calling out ignorance. I'll just have more of an attitude every damn time I have to do it. I'm sure all the parents here can agree with me that having to repeat yourself can get quite irritating the more times you have to do it. Well after repeating myself for a smooth decade, I give negative fucks about my tone or coming off as "angry."
Please be aware that I'm not trying to say that if you're not Black you're not allowed to have an opinion about race. But just like discussions about ANYTHING it helps to be educated about the subject you're discussing. A lot of people think that race is something you can just have an opinion on, and everyone's opinion is valid. It's not when you are coming from a place of privilege based on your race. That's like me walking into a conversation about dick cleaning and claiming to be an expert. I have no idea how you're supposed to clean a dick. I just know they exist and hope you do it if you have one. Sociology exists as a subject of study for a reason. Because this is something that you actually need to research and educate yourself on. No one is born knowing the intricacies of racial hierarchy, anti-racism, and institutional anti-Blackness. I had to drop a couple stacks to learn this in college because they sure as hell didn't bring it up in high school. According to my school Martin Luther King singlehandedly ended racism before he got shot for some odd reason.
So yeah I'm sorry this blog was long as fuck. I know it must have a billion spelling and grammatical errors because I woke up in the middle of the night at 3 am and decided to write it. It is now 5:30. I'll proof read it later. Thanks for reading if you actually got this far.