When they look at us, they see strangers.
I was trying to find this quote recently. I don’t think most white people understand how it feels to be thought of as only as a dehumanized stereotype or a token. Never as someone like you who can be relatable and have things in common with you. It’s always a surprise to people online and offline when people find out that I like things that they do, too ; that I’m not just some angry activism-obsessed woman. When people like Lena Dunham say they don’t know how to write Black people, it’s pretty much saying that she doesn’t think that Black people are also fully complex human beings like her. Sure, there are cultural considerations to be made, but it’s ignoring the fact that people of color are diverse and not a monolith, so it’s not like the only girls who are like her are white.
It’s enraging when I think of how capriciously Americans shrug their shoulders and turn the other cheek when considering the value of Black life in this country. Institutional and interpersonal racism has left Black America in a very precarious place; just leaving our homes puts us at risk for being assassinated by any self-righteous, gun-yielding neighborhood watchman who deems us suspicious.
This way of thinking is an example of a broader societal philosophy that literally begins at conception of a Black life. Black mothers, often considered hypersexual in nature, are frequently treated with little to no dignity by doctors who dismiss their pregnancies as accidental or inconsequential.
With a maternal and fetal mortality rate higher than any other race (often caused by stress brought on by racial burdens), Black mothers often experience traumatic birthing experiences that include forced cesareans, trivializing attitudes by medical professionals, and contemptuous care that has led to death or serious injury. If they survive this, Black children are given the least resources, have the least access to healthcare, endure some the most toxic and contaminated environments, and deal with structural and interpersonal racism throughout adolescence and into adulthood, where they risk the chance of being shot to death by people like George Zimmerman.
It is disheartening how people have desensitized themselves to the plight of communities just because they don’t look like their own or how the lives of Black children are so undervalued, not because of something they’ve done but simply–just because. I can’t reconcile how some people have positioned themselves to make ethical decisions about who is and who isn’t deserving of safety, security, and justice and how those decisions magnify and shift culture, leaving entire communities on the fringes and moving targets for the Zimmermans of the world.
Pure, raw, explosive pleasure! Better than drugs, better than smack! Better than a dope-coke-crack-fix-shit-shoot-sniff-ganja-marijuana-blotter-acid-ecstasy! Better than sex, head, 69, orgies, masturbation, tantrism, Kama Sutra or Thai doggy-style! Better than banana milkshakes! Better than George Lucas’s trilogy, the muppets and 2001! Better than Emma Peel, Marilyn, Lara Croft and Cindy Crawford’s beauty mark! Better than the B-side to Abbey Road, Jimmy Hendrix and the first man on the moon! Space Mountain, Santa Claus, Bill Gates’ fortune, the Dalai Lama, Lazarus raised from the dead! Schwarzenegger’s testosterone shots, Pam Anderson’s lips! Woodstock, raves… Better than Sade, Rimbaud, Morrison and Castaneda! Better than freedom, better than life!
watch it now! thx dirtylittlelies!
It’s the same old story: Nothing in this world happens unless white folks says it happens. And therein lies the problem of being a professional black storyteller– writer, musician, filmmaker. Being black is like serving as Hoke, the driver in “Driving Miss Daisy,” except it’s a kind of TV series lasts the rest of your life: You get to drive the well-meaning boss to and fro, you love that boss, your lives are stitched together, but only when the boss decides your story intersects with his or her life is your story valid. Because you’re a kind of cultural maid. You serve up the music, the life, the pain, the spirituality. You clean house. Take the kids to school. You serve the eggs and pour the coffee. And for your efforts the white folks thank you. They pay you a little. They ask about your kids. Then they jump into the swimming pool and you go home to your life on the outside, whatever it is. And if lucky you get to be the wise old black sage that drops pearls of wisdom, the wise old poet or bluesman who says ‘I been buked and scorned,’ and you heal the white folks, when in fact you can’t heal anybody. Robbing a character of their full dimension, be it in fiction or non fiction, hurts everyone the world over. Need proof? Ask any Native American, Asian, Latino, Gay American, or so called white “hillbilly.” As if hillbillies don’t read books, and Asians don’t rap, and Muslims don’t argue about the cost of a brake job.
There’s nothing wrong with being white. I’m half white myself and proud of it. There isn’t a day passes that I don’t think about my late white Jewish mother and the lessons she taught me about humanity. But bearing witness to this kind of cultural war over the course of a lifetime will grind a man or woman down in horrible ways, and that’s my fear.