I didn’t think moving to New York would be easy. However, I didn’t expect to feel like life is punishing me at every step, and that some unseen omnipotent power is having a great laugh fucking with me.
You may be familiar with #AirbnbWhileBlack, the hashtag that quickly gained traction on Twitter, and attracted coverage from several media outlets. NPR even hosted a Twitter chat on the subject. Tweet after tweet, Airbinb users contributed personal accounts of rental requests being rejected due to discrimination by the host.
In an LA Times op-ed Jonathan Zimmerman, a professor at NYU, and judging by his photos, decidedly not Black, deemed it necessary to take to a national newspaper to tell Black students how to behave and advise university faculty and administration on how to treat them. Not only did he step out of his lane to admonish America’s least favorite ethnic minority, he had the nerve to use the name and highly regarded words of black writer Ralph Ellison to do so.
Here we go again.
In 7th grade, I pleaded with my mother to let me change my name to one less “black.” I didn’t use those words exactly, but I’d gleaned by then that, just like my dark skin, my name was considered inferior somehow. We’d just moved to Texas from Georgia where I’d experienced for the first time the anguish and confusion of being the only black girl in my “gifted and talented” classes full of white kids. I was in the midst of my racial identity crisis.
I’ve never really taken an official break from blogging in the three years of this blog’s existence – even when I’ve gone on vacation. So, I’m taking a break.
Quite frankly, I am exhausted by what’s going on in the world, particularly in the United States.
We’ve got a racist, entitled demagogue running for President and dominating the media.
A few days ago, rapper Nicki Minaj tweeted out her frustration that her big booty-full, controversy-generating Anaconda video was overlooked for a Video of he Year Award by MTV. Soon after, media darling and America’s archetypal sweetheart, singer Taylor Swift, inserted herself into the situation, which was NOT ABOUT HER, tweeting Minaj with her hurt feelings and ivory tears.
I’ve been in San Francisco for two and a half years and I feel I am withdrawing. I don’t think I fit in here. I spend a lot more time alone than I did in my former life in Los Angeles.
This past year has been particularly isolating as America’s longstanding simmering racial tensions bubbled up to the surface with a vengeance, ignited by Michael Brown’s murder last summer. After which, conflicting emotions of hopeless grief and building fury alternately gnawed at me.
Last week I sat in a meeting where the word “slave(s)” was said at least 20 times.
No, I wasn’t involved in a discussion on slavery or history, as someone asked when I tweeted about it. I was in the office of a tech startup. [I’m contracting in my old career until my new one takes off.]
Each time “slave” escaped someones’ lips, I cringed internally, trying hard not to externally display my discomfort. However, with each “slave” uttered, I sank deeper in my chair as my tension found other ways to release itself: a bouncing foot, a tapping finger, shifting positions in my chair. With every vocal release of “slave” it was as though someone tossed the sharp-edged word directly at me. A lashing by lexicon.
Despite significant and continued economic, educational and social progress among black Americans, inaccurate and offensive stereotypes persist. In part these myths are aided by the mainstream media (MSM). In reports about the state of “Black America” MSM tends to focus on reporting negative news or framing reports around the pessimistic view.
I felt the sting of threatening tears as I read tweet after tweet, largely authored by black faces. Individual, collective virtual protests over the acquittal of the police officer who killed Rekia Boyd. Rekia, a 22-year old, black Chicago resident was unarmed when off-duty officer, Dante Servin, shot her in the back of the head, killing her.
That was around the time Jesse asked me, “What else can white people do for black people, so that black people will finally say: ‘ok you’re not racist, you love me, you’ve given us allllll that we’ve wanted, and we appreciate it, so now we’re going to take control of our own lives’? Is there anything else that white people can do to satisfy black people?”
I was in a pissy mood on Friday afternoon.
I’ve written before how I get sick of talking about racism. I just want to live my life. Wake up, do what I do and keep it moving like many other people have the privilege of doing each day. I do not have such privilege, however. Just going to the corner drugstore some days ends with me wondering when the day will come when I won’t have a clerk unsubtly follow me around the store as I shop.