Please note: this post is reflective of mine and the experiences of other people of color in our current environment. Not meant to generalize everyone but it’s a very real issue that we are faced with constantly.
I had to learn to advocate for myself from a young age. It’s due to my circumstances growing up and learning that I didn’t have allies everywhere I went. That as a young black woman, I would be put into situations where I would have to be brave and vocal, otherwise I would not be listened to or respected.
I have come to understand that not everyone has been raised like that or understands why black women take actions for ourselves, rather than wait around to be rescued. Because even when we need someone by our side, that is not granted to us, at least not in the same way it is granted to our white companions.
I realized to the extent of how white privilege is real and can affect my reputation even with people that I have known for a while. In the face of issues, we are never given the benefit of the doubt. We are in the wrong because we responded, but the person is never wrong for initiating the situation.
In the face of disagreements, which are natural to occur between people, when a black person stands up for themselves and is vocal, they are seen as threatening, no matter what. We are expected to listen and abide, but never respond because our voices are too loud and too intimidating. We are expected to listen and abide but never have an opinion of our own because it’s just not true, our feelings cannot be the truth because the other person feels differently and theirs is valid. We are expected to listen and abide, but never show any emotion because we are supposed to know it’s going to be seen as nothing but anger, and you don’t want to be the angry black girl.
But damn I am angry. I’m angry that in every situation where we get provoked, challenged by a white person and decide to voice our opinion it’s seen as threatening, “too much” and we are the ones who are, at the end in a way be, reprimanded. We are the ones who have to be removed, who have to take the first step to fix the situation, we are the ones asked to apologize. I’m angry that I see multiple people of color around me going through the same thing. I’m angry this is the kind of thing I will have to deal with my whole life. I’m angry that white people are quick to call the police or what can be seen as a higher figure when things don’t go their away and they presume our rights and freedom as an attack to their space.
I’m not saying that we are always right, that’s not the case. However, I do want to encourage white counterparts, in the face of disagreements and complaints, to listen and value the other party in the same way as they do for white people; and that before moving forward to deeply consider if you are fair in your solution so that the other doesn’t find themselves being the only one making amends. I would also say that before going ahead and involving other people (or calling the cops and becoming “Permit Patty” kind of person) to think if you have tried talking to other people, and whether the actions of the other person are truly a threat to your space. The question of whether your “fear or discomfort” is based on your bias.