Why is it always about race?? she asks with feigned innocence. Again.
My eye twitches. I give a half smirk, half scowl and search the ceiling for answers and strength. God? Forgive me as I wet my full lips to prepare to drop this informational bomb:
Have you heard A Seat at the Table?
The terms JUSTICE FOR ALL and INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY don’t apply to me.
My husband got pulled over six times within a month after purchasing his new Lexus. And no, he wasn’t speeding. He always wears his seatbelt. He wasn’t texting. He wasn’t swerving.
You’ve asked me several times to teach you how to twerk. I can’t. I won’t.
My american-born African best friends’ names are Tiphanee, Ashley, Brittany, Carson and Amber instead of Folasade, Korede, Lethabo, Ayodele and Morowa—you know, beautiful names with depth that get autocorrected. Powerful names that take a little more effort to pronounce because they were slapped from my ancestors’ tongues just as their children were ripped from their arms. Names we made fun of in ignorance. Colorful names that are abbreviated for convenience. Names that aren’t given respect nor patience, even by language arts teachers or diversity trainers. Go figure.
And don’t even get me started on the lack of African-ness of our last names.
Rather than Mozambique and Togo, I answer Texas and Alabama when asked where my people are from.
I’m deemed loud just by my confidence, scary when I’m not smiling, hostile when I don’t make you feel welcome, ghetto when I assert myself, intimidating when I’m breathing.
My entire family–including me–can recite the national anthem verbatim and quote half the bible, but can’t name one profound work of Marcus Garvey, Amos Wilson or Dr. Frances Cress Welsing.
There are no words for colorism, prejudice or racism in my native language.
In school, my daughters can’t safely rock the flowers that grow naturally from their gardens. Because they’re distractions.
Their soft giggles are distractions.
Their correct answers are distractions.
I didn’t learn the existence of Black people prior to slavery until I was an adult.
It’s a crime to live within this skin. I’m invisible and conspicuous at the same damn time. I can’t shop without being followed or deemed suspicious. And when I do get to check out, I hear the clerk change her tone from Suburban Susan with the last customer to Stereotypical Shatisha with me.
I’m called racist for loving on my own people. I’m called racist when I point out racism.
Skin bleaching. Perms. Medical genocide. Stockholm Syndrome. Slave patrol/KKK. Ghettos. Crackhouses. COINTELPRO. Emmett Till. Little Rock Nine. Apartheid. Breana Rachelle Harmon. Look them up.
Even with some Malaysian’s dead hair covering my natural glory, a wardrobe to camouflage the round of my backside and curve of my hips, impeccable usage and pronunciation of american english, zero tardies and perfect attendance at work, complimentary smiles with every hello, an admirable work ethic and well-timed laughter at your lame jokes—unless I’m needed to make action affirmative, I’m still considered too difficult and aggressive for promotion.
When we comply, there’s still a great chance we could be murdered, injured or wrongfully arrested…just for being alive. Blue lives matter.
I can’t imagine you truly care if you can formulate this insensitive question in your head and let it roll off your tongue so easily into my tired Black ears. I don’t expect you to understand nor attempt to alter your privileged mindset, so, my short answer?: It’s always about race because your daddy and his daddy and his mama and her granddaddy and his grandparents’ family used great strategy to make it so. So.. maybe you should ask them.
Or better yet, ask yourself.
a gist of racism © 2018 K.B Wright