I wrote this as a guest post for Carla a couple of days ago. Being the wonderful ally and intersectional feminist that she is, she is currently using her blog this month to let people of color talk about their experiences. So, here are some of my experiences.
I’m Tired Of ….
The first time that I was ever confronted about my race I was in the fifth grade. It was my first day as an “upperclassman” at this tiny private school in my hometown where each grade level only had 12 students and the total population of students of color was about 7. I sat down at my assigned lunch table and the girl next to me turned to me and said, “Oh my gosh, your bottom lip is pink like ours.” Confused and unsure of how to respond, I started unpacking my lunch while the girl proceeded to nudge the boy next to her to tell him her discovery. At the time my 10 year old self had no idea what the hell she was talking about so I acted like it wasn’t at all strange and tried to ignore her for the rest of lunch. Eventually I realized that was the first time I’d been put in an “us v them” situation, and of all things that this girl could have possible said those were her first words to me. I was annoyed at the fact that she felt the need to make me the “other,” but I brushed it off and I let it go.
It’s been 12 years since that happened and I don’t think that I will ever forget it. Since then, I have been in way too many situations where I have to explain to members of the majority that I am not your token, and no matter what you think or feel I am a person and not another statistic. Being a person of color has pretty much become synonymous with fighting the constant battle to prove that you’re good enough. At least that’s how people want me to feel but the fact of the matter is I don’t give a damn what you think and I will not let you stereotype me and place me into a box as if my experiences don’t matter.
I work hard to advocate for minoritized groups (not just racial minorities but also LGBTQIAP+, those with physical and/or mental disabilities, low socioeconomic status, etc.) because if we don’t fight for ourselves and for each other then who will? At the same time, I’m tired.
I’m tired of fighting this same battle day in and day out.
I’m tired of people assuming that because of my skin color, I must have been a teen mom or never made it past high school.
I’m tired of having to remind some feminists that intersectionality is important and that you’re not really a feminist if you ignore it.
I’m tired of having to remind the people who say that they aren’t feminist that what they’re really saying is that they don’t want equality.
I’m tired of having to explain that “reverse racism” is not a thing because by saying that one way is backwards you imply that the other is correct. So what you saying is that it’s totally fine to oppress minorities.
I’m tired of having to explain that #BlackLivesMatter does not mean that other lives don’t matter, and that the only reason that we even have to say it is because people (and history) insist on telling us that we don’t.
I’m tired of having to explain that Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Asian/Pacific Islander Month and other months that celebrate the cultures of minorities are 100% appropriate and that there is no White History Month because “white history” is taught from kindergarten to high school as arequirement while all of our cultures are only offered as electives in college.
I’m tired of knowing that Tamir Rice was gunned down at 12 years old and that there’s a possibility of that happening to one of my little brothers.
I’m tired of people constantly trying to minimalize the experiences of people of color by asking “why aren’t white people included in this too?” without realizing that they are already included and that they’ve always been included.
I’m tired of people saying they’re voting for Trump because he’s the best person for the job despite the fact that he has no experience or intelligence, and is racist, sexist, and anti-Muslim and has no valid reason for it.
I’m tired of seeing the fashion trends and hairstyles of people of color being described as “urban” and “unprofessional” but on white people they’re “chic” and “trendy.”
I’m tired of people throwing around racial slurs as if it’s no big deal or trying to justify that they said it as “just a joke.”
I’m tired of seeing people try to defend cultural appropriation by saying “well,I don’t see a problem with it.” It’s not about you, it’s about the group that you just appropriated.
I’m tired of hearing people complain about the actress that’s playing Hermione because they’re suddenly annoyed that a heroic character doesn’t look like them. News flash: People of color face this damn near every time they watch a movie and pick up a book. We deserve representation too.
I’m tired of having to tell people to check their damn privilege and that the world doesn’t always revolve around them.
This list could go on forever but I think you get the point. I’m not saying that all members of the majority act this way but its 2016 we’re basically still facing the same struggles since the beginning of time. On the other hand I am very grateful for the allies that we had but at the end of the day, we need more.