Being Black is telling your high school math teacher that you want to get a 100 on a math test and having them tell you no. It is leaving your classroom in disbelief. What does this mean for me? Maybe this topic just was not meant for me.
Being Black is trying to move up a higher level in your English class for two years and hearing no each time. Being Black is then believing that maybe you are just not smart enough. It is questioning whether or not you are smart enough to handle an AP class and an Honors English course your senior year of high school. I have been told no so many times before, so I should probably drop down a level or two before the school year starts. When you apply for college, it is purposefully not listening when the tour guide talks about the Honors college. I barely took honors classes in high school, there is no way in hell that I will take some in college.
Being Black is walking into a classroom early in the morning and having people ask you why you are in a bad mood. Even though all you did was just walk into a classroom, set your backpack down, and sit. You then wonder if it is because you didn’t say good morning to the person next to you. I just walked into this class and sat down, what do you mean?! What does a happy Black woman look like to you? Do I come off as angry ? Am I an angry Black woman? And you think that the next time, you should probably come in smiling and walk out smiling.
Being Black is invalidation. Having experiences that don’t come off as right to you. It is unspoken. Microaggressions. It is trying to tell other people your experiences and having them tell you it is not true. It is feeling crazy. Maybe this didn’t happen! Maybe I am just too sensitive, I am probably just overreacting. I wish someone told me that I wasn’t.
Being Black is working harder than your white counterpart. Feeling as if you could save the world from a supervillain and people would still turn their cheek while crediting another person. Maybe I do not deserve what I have. They must just work harder than I do, so it makes sense that they would get more credit than me. I probably just have to work harder next time.
Being Black is feeling as if your life does not matter to others. It is holding your tongue while others tell you to your face that they think all lives matter. But what about me? What does my life mean to you? What if it was me?
Being Black is having your curly hair treated as a pet. Reluctantly saying yes when someone wants to touch your hair. As if they own it. Maybe I should straighten my hair more often. It will look a lot better straight than curly.
Is my existence just a token to you? Am I your token Black friend? If you cared about my experiences, you would have listened in the first place. You sit and take my Black pain as joy. You sit and claim to yourself that you are for all people, except mine. You sit and repost posts on Instagram and check off in your mind that you have done your duties as an anti-racist. You think to yourself, well this must be enough, while you carry on with your day and hold your tongue when it is time to speak up for your Black “friend.”
Sometimes it feels like people take my Black pain as entertainment. Because it is normalized to see people like me tumble onto the ground after getting shot or kneeled on over and over on my Instagram timeline. It is normal to see Black girls getting shot and killed by people who should protect us. People only want to post about Black pain, never about Black joy.
When I feel angry about the injustices that happen I try to push down the anger and resort to sadness. Black women can’t be angry. We cannot have feelings. Being white is having the privilege of expressing all emotions. When I am angry, I am stereotyped and ignored. When you are angry, you are listened to.
There are many joys that come with being a Black woman that I am proud of. I have endured so much and have come so far. I now know that I am more than a box that you have all tried to put me in. I am smart, courageous, and brave. I can be angry, sad, happy, and joyous. If I am willing to believe this for myself despite America telling me not to. Can you?