A response to…”But you should be willing to educate me!!!!”

So, apparently some people had an issue with the tone of my last post. They think I have some obligation to teach people about who I am in a calm and polite tone.  I don’t believe my parents birthed me to justify my existence and explain the conditions of my humanity to other people. I could check with them but I’m sure they’ll say no.

Oh, would you look at that? I’m fresh out.

 

My feelings towards people who think I’m obligated to sit wherever and make them understand or accept my humanity are best expressed by:

“I’ve got to explain myself

To everybody

I do more translating

Than the Gawdamn U.N.

Forget it

I’m sick of it

I’m sick of filling in your gaps

Sick of being your insurance against

The isolation of your self-imposed limitations

Sick of being the crazy at your holiday dinners

Sick of being the odd one at your Sunday Brunches

Sick of being the sole Black friend to 34 individual white people

Find another connection to the rest of the world

Find something else to make you legitimate

Find some other way to be political and hip

I will not be the bridge to your womanhood

Your manhood

Your human-ness

I’m sick of reminding you not to

Close off too tight for too long

I’m sick of mediating with your worst self

On behalf of your better selves

I am sick

Of having to remind you to breath

Before you suffocate

Your own fool self.

Forget it

Stretch or drown

Evolve or die

The bridge I must be

Is the Bridge to my own power

I must translate

My own fears

Mediate

My own weaknesses

I must be the bridge to nowhere

But my true self

And then

I will be useful.”
Taken from The Bridge Poem by Donna Kate Ruskin

 

I don’t think people get how exhausting it is to deal with people who refuse to check their privilege but demand you give them answers that they have no interest in hearing in the first place. I don’t think some of you get how exhausting it is to deal with white secularists who think they are entitled to label the black community as especially ignorant, pathological,  or “uncle tom” race traitors (in the case of black Christians) but act offended when I choose to self-identify. So I’m done dealing with people who think they can educate me on my experience:

White Supremacy. Because white people are better qualified to discuss the culture/lived experiences of POCs than POCs.

White Supremacy. Because white people are better qualified to discuss the culture/lived experiences of POCs than POCs.

I don’t care to play the game where people get to act like they are really confused by terms like “privilege” or confused as to how racism can still exist in a country that elected a black president. I’m tired. I’m done. I’m calling bullshit. I will talk about these things on my terms and my terms only. You don’t get to waste my time or energy anymore.

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10 thoughts on “A response to…”But you should be willing to educate me!!!!”

  1. matt says:

    just because you are black doesn’t mean you know the history of black people more than another person who doesn’t happen to be black… it’s very likely, but not a guarantee… what if this person is a historian? what if they are married to a black person and actually studied black history to better relate to their spouse? maybe they were adopted by a black family? there are several scenarios that would allow someone to know more than you… to assume otherwise is only showing your ignorance, not theirs

    • All the classes and studying in the world cannot compare to the experience of actually being black. Academic fields are in many cases just “discovering” things that black people already knew were true via their experience (transgenerational trauma, bias in medical care, etc). And let’s keep in mind that no field is free from bias. Keep in mind that white supremacy and it’s notion of black inferiority has influenced and continues to influence academia, and has often resulted in the uncritical dismissal of black experiences/contributions. So the only one demonstrating their ignorance is you.

  2. Sunil says:

    That’s a fantastic poem. “Stretch or drown”… exactly.

  3. J Freeman says:

    Well, I, for one, refuse to become angry and bitter like you have by creating a segregated platform for yourself, opening yourself up to critisizm, and then tiring of having to defend yourself all the time.
    Seriously, grow up.
    The fact is that their is no healthy bridge of education between browns and “whites:” it’s then really no dang wonder so many of them are ignorant.
    Worse yet, when they have mustered up some genuine curiosity, an angry brown person tells them to screw off because they (the angry person) are now the only person in the room that matters.
    Check the anger at the door, empathy is always more productive. Also, stop arguing with every Tom, Dick, and Harry. Write. Write about your experiences. Humans learn from stories and experiences. Arguing accomplishes Jack. It leaves you angrier and them even more confused. Again, please, acquire a bit of maturity.

    • So now I am not only obligated to teach but I am obligated to sit and have empathy for people who have none for me? And now we as “brown” people are responsible for white people who are ignorant? Interesting…

    • Did you miss the last post, wherein Rhoades writes down all of the educational responses one could possibly hope for when having these conversations?
      I did not read that post and think, “what a bitter/angry/mean/whatever-bullshit-you-want-to-put-here post.” I thought it was informative. It left a little fire in my belly to read someone write something in a stern, powerful, and intelligent way.
      What makes you more qualified to determine how to present an argument about her rights than she? What experiences in your life make you an expert on explaining to “curious” (read:: infuriatingly and oppressively ignorant) white people what it’s like to be black and atheist (or any other thing)? What qualifies you to be the teacher and her to be the student? IMO, you should take some time to reflect on why it is you would enter a conversation like this with that assumption in mind. You should also reflect on why you think you get to use language like, “grow up,” and “acquire a bit of maturity.” By whose definition of immature is she immature? It’s certainly not mine, so is it yours? Why do you get to decide, universally, who is and isn’t mature?

  4. Lizzy says:

    Good for you. I say, do what you want! Haven’t black people been subjugated enough without privileged white people coming around and telling them how to be atheist too? Isn’t there enough room in atheism for everyone to be atheist in the best way for them? I wish you luck.

  5. It’s rather funny and sad at the same time that as I read the comments, I find two further examples of what the author was writing about. It’s as though these two commenters read the article, got their feathers in a ruffle, and decided to prove the author wrong by exhibiting the exact same behaviour and therefore proving the author right.

  6. First post:: fantastic, fiery, packed with good information.
    This post:: resonates so much with a recent experience trying to explain my feminism to men. Fucking yes.

  7. NoaAthena says:

    Loved this, and I feel you 100%. Amazing how people call defending yourself “hostile” or “harsh.” GTFOH.

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