Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I'm Gonna Tell You Some Truth

When I walk down the street my dreadlocks swaying in the breeze, I am one hundred percent a beautiful black woman.  I know the world would have me forget my value, and lower my eyes at passersby, but my will cannot be denied.  I know that when people see me that every negative characteristic that is wedded to black femininity:  Jezebel, Mammy, Sapphire, is attached to my beautiful body.  They see a body that they hope to exploit and marginalize for the sake of maintaining a hierarchy that places women like me firmly at the bottom.

For someone else's privilege I meant to lower my head.  For someone else's privilege I meant to pretend I don't understand the code words, or know that the intent is to demean my humanity.  Black women aren't pretty they tell me.  We are wild an untamed.  Black girls aren't soft and feminine. To that I respond, you don't want a woman you want a slave.

I know my worth and I know my value, it is just far to much for the likes of you. I must inform you without sadness or regret, you shall not be exalted by my diminishment.  The false offers of friendship ring hollow in my ears.  I know the truth, I've know it for years. 

You're all about equality, friendship and love until you are put to the test.  Do you think I don't see how you accept the racism of others and pronounce yourself not guilty because you didn't participate?  If you don't speak out against racism and stand in silence you are protecting your privilege, there are no free passes in this life.

Do you think going to consciousness raisings, or standing in protest with an ironic placard is fighting for justice? You don't want the revolution you claim to seek.  Justice is living each and every single day for a better world.  It means standing by your principles when they cost you something.  It means being the one in the room that says that shit isn't funny, even though you know you are going to be accused of not having a sense of humour.  It is having the courage to know that equality means not lowering yourself to someone, but lifting the bar so that we may all have our share.

I understand that people mess up.  Society has much invested in teaching us to ignore the ways in which we are unfairly privileged.  We have a tendency to look at our labours and discount the privilege that created many of the opportunities in our life.  Where you born middle class, white, able bodied, straight, cisgendered, in a western country...Let me tell you honey, you have some privilege. 

There are times when you may wish that privilege was something that you could just give away and that is a false fixation.  Every single day of your life you will have that privilege so rather than wishing it away, do some good with it.  A bit of microactvism ever day with the belief that holding your head up high and encouraging others to do the same in the face of ignorance, is an act of revolution.  Loving yourself in the face of the ugliness that seeks to subsume you is activism come alive. Don't believe the lies, don't believe the hype, truth may be ugly , but it is real and haven't we all had enough bullshit to last us years?

So I told you some truth today, and it is up to you what you do with it.  Deal with it, ignore it, embrace it the choice is is yours, but my truth is real to me.  That woman with dreadlocks and the keen eye with the wicked smile is on to you. The lies, the social construction, the meanness and the hate, all designed so that people like myself doubt our worth .  I am someone, I am here and I am black and beautiful.  Deal with it. 


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