I don’t know how exactly you find me, but you always do. Sometimes I find myself wasting preciious time trying to understand the process. Perhaps you have a list of keywords, full of terms related to race and gender. Perhaps you follow people who actually respect me, and it infuriates that that anyone would give weight to the thoughts of a black woman. Perhaps you mistaken my hypervisibility for fame, and you resent that I am seen a way that you may not be. Or perhaps it is coincidence; you did nothing in particular to find yourself in my path, but you’re thankful it happened anyway. Lucky you, you were able to fit harassment into your schedule!
You believe in racism privately, because you ARE racist, and you know it. Or perhaps you believe that minorities are the “real racists” and don’t have the language to understand that you’re projecting. Regardless, when you speak to me you pretend that racism isn’t a real thing. Whenever you use the word there is a tinge of sarcasm, a mocking tone that reveals that you find even the concept of my dscrimination to be amusing. You knowingly break down the concept of race, referring to races simply as “colors” and pretending those colors have no meaning to you or society. Your decision to see systemic racial oppression as a thing that is made up in black people’s heads allows you to hide your true motives from yourself. You tell yourself that you’re just tweeting a person on the internet, but in your heart you know that I am black and that I am a woman and that is why you singled me out in the first place.
You love to complain about how I “always talk about race” neglecting to realize that you only acknowledge my existence when race is being discussed. When I am discussing other injustices, causes and interests, you are nowhere to be found. You have no concept of the breadth of my understanding and experience, because identity and my thoughts on race are the only pieces of me you are aware of. You rail against “identity politics”, but it is “identity politics” that bring you to me in the first place. If I was a white guy, you may make a few stray comments about how I have been “brainwashed” by the “liberal media” but you wouldn’t bother to come at me as hard for my racial opinions if I were not black. My blackness annoys you. You would rather I do everything I can to bury it. I’m sure you would tolerate me if I never spoke of race at all. Or perhaps even then you may still take issue with my continued existence? I suppose it depends how intensely you hold your “convictions” and how much free time you are willing to waste. Perhaps if I said I “don’t see color” you would applaud me. But regardless of how I see myself you will always see me as black, because if I wasn’t… we wouldn’t be speaking in the first place.
You have no objective other than to rattle my cage, which is why facts don’t matter. What matters is that you get to make an example of me and show the internet how inferior I am to you. The truth is that you see all black people as inferior. You see all of us as stupid, simply because we believe we are oppressed and critique the social hierarchy that you believe you thrive on. The only thing that would give us favor in your eyes is submitting to your way of thinking. Social blindness is your most valuable currency. For example, as long as you never admit your harassment is because of my blackness, you may claim the moral high ground. For you, there is power in not saying what you mean.
You do not admit this. You let me get frustrated and wait for me to tell you what you came for, so that you can pretend you have no idea what I’m talking about. And because I mention it first, you can pretend I’m overreacting and you are the “objective” one. You are stoic, unemotional, and undettered. You can’t imagine why I’m upset, but it amuses you. And I am burdened by the knowledge that I know exactly what you came for and know your tactics, but I fall for them anyway. My optimism makes me fall for them. Each time a stranger engages me, I want to think it is in good faith. I want to think that we are speaking to each other respectfully. I want to think the best of you… and that is how you get me.
By the end I am questioning myself. I doubt my words and my methods. I fret over whether the interaction could have gone better… if I could have been better. I apologize to “our audience” for my anger. As a black woman, I know that I am expected to be angry. You knew that too. Our interaction confirms that narrative. Sometimes even black men will laugh at us for being so sensitive and egg you on. I leave the interaction feeling sized up, cubed and packed away.
You think about none of these things. Before I can come to terms, you’ve found another black woman. And the cycle begins again.
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