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Feeling My Black

IMG_9395Lately, my blackness has been rearing up inside of me something serious. It’s sitting heavy in my stomach, getting caught in my lungs, spewing out of my ears. It comes up in every conversation, gets implicated in every encounter, and sits on the tip of my tongue.

I am black. Wherever I go and whatever I read and whatever I say and whomever I meet, I bring the black. It has always been like this (since I was like 5 years old), but now I have pretty strong, thoroughly considered opinions about it. I also feel as though my blackness is confrontational in a way that I had not previously realized. I was, for many reasons, not as aware of or moved by black men and women being profiled, killed by police, or systemically and intentionally oppressed. Growing up, I basically thought anyone in this country could do well for him/herself if he/she tried hard enough. Somebody hit the buzzer please because I got that one wrong.

I’m not into conspiracy theories. I don’t think my haters sit around and plot hater attacks against me. I do know this one girl who doesn’t like me very much and makes herself feel more important by talking about me behind my back. She barely counts though because she may literally be the whackest person I know. Other than this chick, I do not usually feel attacked. However, I’m now prone to think that people really do go out of their way to be horrible to black people (and other marginalized groups too – I see you, Muslims, Hispanics, and LGBT’ers). Like I said, it’s confrontational. Let me just name some of the bull that has my blackness on edge these days.

  1. Black men are overrepresented in US prisons in the worst way. This is not a new issue. This is also not the only systemic or institutionalized way in which people of color are oppressed (hello education, economic exclusion, voting rights, gentrification…..actually, hello every system that makes up the fabric of American society). Can we have our men back please? While you’re at it, give me them Hispanics too. Let’s stop building prisons and invest in universal Pre-K instead. Just a thought because in 2014, only 515 black men entered medical school. 515! Like, I’m probably friends with all of those guys on Facebook. Me and a group of home girls could get together and birth that many men. Seriously. That’s how few there were. Let’s build more opportunities for people to succeed rather than places for them to go if they don’t. This is just so extra whack to me . . . kinda like that girl who be hating on me . . . extra doses of whackness.
  1. Police rape and assault black women as if they live inside a real life racist video game except that it’s not a video game, which became readily apparent when that one police officer WEPT once convicted. You have the nerve to cry, Holtzclaw? Did your victims cry? Did you care? No? M’kay, please discard of those tears in the nearest receptacle at your earliest convenience. Like every black mother has said at least once to her child, fix ya face before I give you something to cry about. Ole’ silly last name having lil’ boy. And for the record, he is not one of the men I wanted back in my first point. Y’all can keep that one in your prison. He might actually suffer from extra dose of whackness syndrome. In that case, there is little hope for rehabilitation.
  2. The highest court in all these United States of Amurica lets Scalia target African Americans to suggest that we do not, by and large, possess the ability to perform well at the better schools in the country. To be fair, he was citing the mismatch theory that some dudes wrote a book about, so it’s not like he thought this up all on his own. No, folks BEEN publishing books on the ish. He did, however, come up with some stuff all on his own like the fact that he didn’t think schools like University of TX need more black students. But why not, sir? Why????? In any case, Scalia called out our ability. Not our opportunity, not our preference for one kind of school over another, and not the horrendous history of African-Americans in this country that might account for our underrepresentation in top-tier schools. No, he questions our innate ability. Now he has all my very black, very educated Facebook friends posting pictures of themselves from their graduations and listing all their degrees. I don’t wanna read about that on my Facebook feed! I want to be petty and trivial and lighthearted. I want to see pictures of your weddings, your fat babies, and that pasta stuff you cooked last night. Ugh. My friends feel compelled to refute the accusation that we are less academically able. They feel as if their blackness has been confronted. They are defending themselves as black people. They’re feeling their black.
  3. Police just MURDER black men and women and then convince entire teams of people to lie for them – prosecutors, police chiefs, victims’ families, attorney generals, mayors, etc. Then when the truth comes out everybody gotta resign. Whaaaat? Who is going to run Chicago and St. Louis and Detroit and Baltimore and these other cities if their city officials have to resign after we find out they’ve been involved in some black-folk-hateration-operations? Boy, y’all kill me with this stuff. No but for real, y’all kill black folks with this stuff. It’s outrageous. You can’t just kill people! You can’t! Well, you can but you should expect to go to prison (refer to point 1 here; also refer to Freddie Gray, Amadou Diallo, and Trayvon Martin’s murderers . . . and can we all agree that something is seriously wrong with George Zimmerman? He is an awful person). It’s frightening. Who’s safe? If black lives don’t matter, what’s to keep my friendly neighborhood policeman from choking me out? The thought of it makes me so angry I just want to run down the street shouting. And I would do it. I really would. But I’m too scared of being killed and becoming the next #sayhername girl. So I’mma just sit right here behind this computer and type voraciously. Can’t stop me from writing! Chump!
  4. The last thing I want to mention is the disdain that black people have for themselves. Yes, boo boo, I’m talking about y’all now. We come for ourselves! We say stuff like “let me get out of this sun before I get too black” as if getting too black is unattractive. Stop it! Get out of the sun because you could get cancer or sunburn or something. Don’t get out because you actually don’t like looking darker than you are. I also saw this thing on Facebook the other week where a teacher posted a list of rules that went something like: 1. There will be no whipping and nae nae’ing in the classroom. 2. Don’t call me or anyone else “bruh.” 3. Don’t use the word “mane” instead of “man”. There were more rules but I can’t remember now. Point is, she might as well have been telling those kids to disregard their blackness, to push aside parts of their culture while learning, to regard those parts of themselves as inappropriate. I get it. I understand that there is a time and place for everything. I definitely want children to learn that. I just don’t want lessons about being “polite” or “professional” or “right” to be contorted and be made synonymous with whiteness. It’s the same way I don’t want black people confusing beauty with whiteness. It’s the same way I don’t want black parents to feel compelled to name their children Susan or Bob for the sole purpose of assimilation to whiteness. Let me clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with whiteness. Its got some good and some bad. It’s just that there is also nothing inherently wrong with blackness. It too has some good and bad. We should not want to distance ourselves from it. We should love ourselves deeply and truly in spite of subtle and overt messages that we should not.

I could go on. Lots of silly little I’ve-been-secretly-hating-black-folks-and-I-finally-got-the-nevrve-to-say-it type things happened recently. A remake of The Wiz aired on NBC and folks literally suggested that we would think an all-white version would be racist if it had been made. I just rolled my eyes and kept eating my fried chicken and watermelon on that one. Folks just about had an aneurism when John Boyega was cast in Star Wars to add some color off up in there. Terrorists killed all kinds of Parisians and Americans and Syrians and Nigerians. It’s just a mess! But I’ll stop before I do something crazy . . . like get back on Twitter and figure out how to tweet my thoughts. Y’all not even ready for that (no, I’m not even ready for that bc I still don’t get Twitter).

Anyway, I’m feeling it. The black. It’s everywhere.

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I'm Mariah. Jesus is my homie. I live in (and was raised in) the south. I am, as often as possible, actively grateful for my family because I understand their life giving power. Really dislike melodramatics. Really love reading and writing so much so that I aspire to be an author. What else?

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