The arrest of megastar rapper, T.I. proves, once again, that no matter how much fame and wealth you have, your blackness will never be forgotten or overlooked. My blackness will never be anything but black.
When I speak, I often ask groups – largely comprised of white folks – what they see when they look at me. These are people who respect me and have shown up to hear me speak because of who I am.
Folks will respond with all sorts of answers – they see a smart woman, a confident woman, a stylish woman, an articulate woman (?)…and the list goes on and on.
Finally, after the 100th response, I emphatically ask, “What do you SEE when you look at me?” Every now and then, a brave, trembling voice will say, “You’re Black?” To which I reply, “YES! I am Black!”
Me speaking in Minneapolis, MN
I do this to prove a point. We have been conditioned that seeing a persons color is somehow politically incorrect. I need people to see my color – to recognize their thoughts when they notice my blackness; to understand that the person I am can’t be extrapolated from my blackness; that my blackness means something in the world today.
It means that I can’t do anything, not even enter my own home, without being questioned, arrested or even killed. If you say you don’t see color or that talking about color and race is divisive, you are being ignorant and disregarding my humanity.
As an aside: if you’re a person of faith, ignoring or downplaying my blackness is to ignore and downplay God’s divine creativity. Just saying.
This is why Austin Channing Brown’s new book, #imstillhere is so important. And it’s not even for white people. It’s for girls like me, for black folks, who are constantly denied dignity; who struggle to live life fully because we are torn down at every turn, from every direction.
As a Black woman working in white spaces, my perception of racial dynamics has been questioned, minimized, or denied altogether. Over time, the experience of not being believed, especially by people I thought were my friends, wore away my sense of self. As I entered the professional world and sensed this happening to me, it became vital to remind myself daily of why I love being a Black girl. – Austin Channing Brown
I am aware that nothing that I have accomplished, will accomplish, will gain, will experience, will ever eclipse the fact that I a BLACK. We’ve got to get beyond our disbelief when black people who are seemingly “above” blackness experience discrimination, abuse or death.
Instead of being surprised or shaking our collective heads when people perpetrate acts that reveal the ongoing reality of racism, let’s fully recognize one another. Let’s call out the ways that people, governments, laws, etc… have colluded to make us believe that our race doesn’t matter even as they perpetuate systems that are based on the very thing they would have us believe is nonexistent.
Lets commit to be anti-racist, dismantling systems, beliefs and policies that destroy our collective humanity. Let’s call out the ways that people, governments, laws, etc… have colluded to make us believe that our race doesn’t matter even as they perpetuate systems that are based on the very thing they would have us believe is nonexistent.
I’m just trying to live y’all. That’s it. We, who are black and brown, just want to live. We want to go to school, take naps, drink coffee (or not), walk down the street, play outside, have access to our property.
Can we do that? Is that too much to ask?