Looking up from my laptop and tablet, I’m suddenly struck by harsh facts and realities that I often choose to ignore in favor of my sanity.
My perspective is colored and tempered by classifications placed upon me at birth without my consent or active participation. I don’t have the benefit of being able to go skipping through the daisies oblivious to my Blackness or my femininity. It was explained to me very early on in life that because I was dark skinned, I needed to be smart because I’d never be pretty. Being raised with my lighter skinned brother and cousins, I was acutely aware of my position in my family. Having lived in so many places where other Black children were few and far between, I was always told how _____ I was for a Black girl. It never mattered what word filled in the blank, because I knew that whatever it was, I wasn’t being compared to my peers; I was being compared to their idea of what a Black girl was or could be… and the fact that I did not fit the description of what they imagined didn’t change their understanding or opinion, it simply made me an anomaly; just a ghost in the machine.
So when I look back at my previous pieces, and see that all but a very few are about being Black or being a woman, I want you to understand that it isn’t because I’m only capable of writing about racial or engendered issues. It’s because I see the world through a Black Latino/Hispanic Woman’s eyes, and I have been conditioned to relate to the world based on those qualifiers first, and who I really am… well, not even second. When I think about economic issues, I think of unemployment rates among the Black Collegiate population. When I think about travelling, I consider how the nation or country views and treats its women. When I walk down the street or through the parking lot of a shopping center, I have to consider whether I’m wearing the Victim costume or if my would-be attacker would likely prefer lighter fare… Every relationship; every interaction, every thought-seed I sew is a product of the physical qualifiers that I had no control over.
I wonder how many people would automatically assume that this confession of sorts is an admission to some form of involuntary racism? I wonder how many people are internalizing this account and reflecting on their own conditioned responses?
Yeah, I looked back on several of my pieces, and even had to question myself… Like “Um, Reign, you’re sounding a bit narrow there… Something you need to share with the class?” I get noticeably angry with my White brethren… watching them–and of course, some of you–choose to be oblivious and disconnected with an experience that is as intimately personal as how people who look like me are automatically villainized and dehumanized in the media… how women are instantly marginalized and devalued…
You know what, No. I get down right pissed the fuck off. I mean, why mince words and play coy when I can just tell you that I want to choose ignorance too. I want to wake up and walk out of my house in my bath robe like my White neighbors do and not have to think that anyone who sees me will assume a hood-rat mentality. I want to walk into a job interview or ask for a raise, and actually believe that the effort I’ve put into developing my skills and maintaining my strong work ethic will actually work in my favor. I want to go on a date with a White man without getting dirty looks, having people assume that I’m one of those self loathing Blacks who want a mixed baby with “good hair,” or having to wonder if he’s only going out with me because he’s got some unhealthy stereotype dancing around in his head about how exotic the sex with me would be. I’m thoroughly disgusted with having to explain my perspective to Black men who should know and understand my struggle because their struggle is so similar to mine… I’m fucking sick of it. Can I hear about a crime and not have to cross my fingers and pray to Black Jesus that the perpetrator isn’t a Black guy? Do white people do that? Seriously… do White folks hear news about a criminal and say to each other “Aw man, please don’t be white…” Let me tell you folks, that privilege alone would greatly improve the quality of my life: Just one day being allowed to experience life as a regular person, instead of a Black Woman.