A fellow black girl asked me how I stay happy and affirmed as an aware and conscious black girl in spite of being inundated by racism and sexism and particularly people who perpetuate these -isms and deny it and call you an “angry black woman” if you point it out.
For me, it’s been a process. I feel like I’ve arrived at a sort of place of zen. I am capable of both recognizing and responding to ignorance without letting it negatively impact my day. I used to be a lot angrier and unhappy than I am now. Especially, when I first started to learn about black feminist theory.
It was like all of a sudden words were being put to all of the things that had bothered me throughout my life. And it was overwhelming to come into that much knowledge. But now that I’ve had a couple years to let it process, I know how to take that knowledge and be empowered and happy with it.
I’ve learned #1) to create boundaries. I can honestly say that there are no oppressive people who have any significant roles in my life. It’s one thing to deal with people in passing who are oppressive, but for me it’s a relief to know that I’m not around those people in any serious manner. So in the end they don’t really matter.
#2) I’ve learned that I can’t educate people into being anti-oppression. I used to think that the main reason why racism and sexism exists on an individual level is because people were taught by the media, by society, to be these things. And that all they needed was a little knowledge about the truth and they’d become allies. You can say this sounds pessimistic. But it’s being a realist. People are invested in being oppressive. If they weren’t, they’d come to be an ally on their own without anybody’s help due to the existence of BOOKS, ARTICLES, GOOGLE, and numerous other resources.
For me, realizing this has actually been very liberating. I used to want to tone police myself and try to live elucidating on what racism is and what sexism is. And that’s pointless. And it’s unhealthy. Now I live life not worrying about the white or male gaze and I’m more interested in learning about what is liberating to me as a black girl.
#3) Honestly, it just takes time to figure out what works for you. What works for me is using Tumblr Savior and blacklisting white people/ white women/ white men/ white feminism because it steals my joy to see ignorance on my dash. What works for me is not seriously responding to deliberate ignorance. But everybody is unique and different. And it takes knowing what does NOT work for you, to know what does. Tumblr teaches you that real fast.
#4) Other than that, I’d say the end goal is to be an empowered black girl who is self-affirmed and grounded in her truths. And knowing that although they may try, other folks can’t take that away from you. Their misnamings of “angry” or “irrational” or “bitter” cannot take away from the truth and that in the end they are the ones who are wallowing in the excrement of being ignorant, oppressive, and just ugly in the spirit.
It should make you feel happy and blessed to know you’re not in the same group with them.
Thanks to @onlylovecanremain for asking me the question. It was nice to seriously think about this. :)