How have you been holding up these past weeks?
I’m engaging in lots of conversations about race and systemic racism, and let me tell you…. it is exhausting. I’m #TYAD.
I live in a British Overseas Territory, and it’s been fascinating to hear the views and reactions to what’s going on around the world. Growing up in a space where we (Black people) are the majority, unlike African Americans or persons of African descent living in European countries, we do not encounter daily overt racism. Ours is much more covert.
I learned about Malcolm X because I had reasonably young and apparently liberal parents. At the time, Spike Lee came out with a biopic of his life that my parents allowed us to see.
To this day, I have to get Denzil Washington out of my head when I think on Malcolm X. I was probably around 10 when that movie came out, and I didn’t know what Malcolm X meant, but I instinctively knew I wanted more.
I later attended a Historically Black College/University – Norfolk State University, (go SPARTANS), and a whole world was opened to me. Though I thought I was going to be in A Different World and find my Dwayne Wayne there, I never actually did, I did make life long friends.
I discovered the power and beauty of James Baldwin’s words. Learning about the Civil Rights Movement and personalities in the movement, had a profound influence on me. I was able to identify how the movement impacted my life and opportunities in the Caribbean.
Most significant was how I began delighting in all things black and beautiful in a safe space, where a young woman was encouraged to explore and prepare for a world that wouldn’t be as forgiving. Though I will admit, I somehow managed to graduate from an HBCU, and still can’t play spades, but that’s a different story.
I say all of that to say that as white people around the world are “seeing” and “hearing” Black people, many of us in the diaspora are also looking within and understanding just how deep systemic racism touches our everyday lives and also how uniquely linked we are to our cousins in the United States who stand on the frontlines of racial injustice for all of us.
A few weeks ago in a community conversation, I realized that for many of us that do not live on the frontline and experience daily overt racism, there are a lot of ways we internalize our response to racist actions. To me it was evident how much we feel the need to simultaneously protect the feelings of our white friends and community members while trying to also confront issues of racisms.
I am learning that despite the continued failure of respectability politics, it’s what many would prefer. But here is the thing – I cannot be responsible for other people’s experiences, history, privilege, fragility or even guilt.
Right now, for me, in this season of my life, I am actively choosing to engage and unburden myself from the discomfort others might feel, and what I also feel! I’m choosing to live my whole and full existence. My wish for myself as a woman, as a Black woman, is to be my present, whole self, every minute of every day.
So I’m choosing to show up in person and online, and I am choosing to unburden myself of other people’s feelings of what is polite language when discussing racism and its effects on Black people. I’m choosing to do what’s necessary for me to be able to start anew and present to the world, my full self.
Whatever it might be that you feel burdened by, choose to lighten your load in this season of your life. I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment or send me a message. What are you choosing to unburden yourself with?
Until next time, be well.