I know this post is probably going to come back to haunt me in some way, but hey, wouldn’t be the first time. Allow me to clarify that in saying I don’t feel like being black, it doesn’t mean I want to be white (or yellow or red), it’s just that right now I don’t feel like having an in-depth discussion about the complexity of who I am. I don’t feel like being critiqued. I don’t feel like being picked apart for my hair texture, my skin tone, the size of my nose, my dialect. I don’t feel like being under a myopic microscope. I don’t feel like over-thinking my behavior, and I damn sure don’t feel like explaining it either. I don’t feel like being damned if I do and damned if I don’t. I don’t feel like chronicling the type of household I grew up in or my socioeconomic status so someone can get a better glimpse of the simple life of a black women. I don’t feel like worrying about upholding stereotypes or breaking other ones down. I don’t feel like being a statistic or trying not to become one. I don’t feel like exploring my reality or trying to downplay it. I just want to be.
When you write about black issues all day every day, it can be hard to turn off your race radar. Eventually, every time somebody looks at you sideways it’s becomes a “because your black” thing, when really they just need you to move your big ol’ purse out the way so they can grab that seat on the train.
It’s overwhelming to constantly discuss, observe, and witness so many problems plaguing the black community and not have the slightest clue how to fix any of it. Exploring race, culture, sexism, racism, discrimination, and just plain hate on a daily becomes akin to watching Roots, Rosewood, A Time to Kill, The Help, The Ghosts of Mississippi, and any other racially charged movie you could think of in one setting. It would be the saddest movie marathon ever, and by the end of it, you might find yourself in a beret pumping your black power fist ready to set some ish off, or crippled by the pessimistic view that some things are just never going to change.
Then you wonder if by writing about “the troubles of this world,” as Mahalia Jackson might say, are you making the problems bigger than they are, or constituting a necessary dialogue? Some days you write about things and think, it can’t be this deep. Other days you uncover the racial complexities of a topic and wonder how is it that nobody else cares to scratch beneath the surface? Most days you just want to put something out without the words, black, hair, misogyny, racism, discrimination, hater, bitter, or angry even coming into the discussion. You want a story about meeting a new guy to be just that, not turn into a trilogy on the estranged relationship between black men and women. You want getting your hair done not to turn into a natural versus relaxed debate. You want wearing make-up to not determine that you’ve subscribed to euro-centric standards of beauty. Alas, you want a utopian society where racial and gender differences still exist, they just don’t monopolize every aspect of your being, from what kind of food is socially acceptable to eat in the office, to who you bring home to meet the parents. You want to be black without the weight of Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, James Earl Ray, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Jim Crow, Trayvon Martin, and Barack Obama on your shoulders. But, that ain’t gone happen today.