Let someone in. Let someone in. That's a hard one, Wise. Because after years of being treated like an outcast or welcomed in only to be rejected in a few years, you just start to get to the point where you don't want to try anymore.
Let's back track a bit. This started with Nikki's post about the limited view of Black women in televisions sitcoms, dramas, dramedys, etc. How we are always the angry asexual, the man I need a man, or the video whore. I know they hate that phrase but the women who dance around and shake it in next to nothing while some man throws money at her and sings about what a whore she is should take a closer look at what she is doing.
Merriam-Webster defines whore as a woman who engages in sexual acts for money. While you may not be performing an overt sexual act on camera, you are giving the impression that you are more than willin. If your parents raised you right, you can't tell me you are not ashamed on some level of how you are presenting yourself. Because once you bend over in shorts that are now so short they become underwear, any semblance of intelligence is gone. No one cares how many A's you made in 3rd grade or the fact that you won the spelling bee in 5th grade or the college degree you have. All they now see is your backside and what it will do to entice them. And while you're doing that, you're also giving the next generation their view of themselves. Instead of thinking I can run the world, they think this is the way to make a man pay attention to me. By virtue of your scantily clad, mouth parted presence you are making a statement I'm sure you'd deny. But the reality is, no matter how you feel about what you're doing today, most people want more for their daughters, nieces and friends. Charlotte radio host Janine Davis started Girl Talk Foundation as a means of counteracting those very effects.
After Nikki's post, this conversation morphed into Wise's partial solution to let someone in. In it, Wise states that in some respects it's our fault white people don't know us. So let's get to a little Jameil history. We know I grew up in a predominately white neighborhood (see less than a handful of black families out of about 500 homes) but let's go a bit deeper into what that means. That means I also went to a predominately white elementary school. Almost all of my crushes prior to 6th grade (other than my mom's friend's son who I now know is at least 10 years older than me) were white. There weren't enough cute black boys to choose from. Not a problem. Except when none of them actually want to be your 3rd or 4th or 5th grade boyfriend and you've liked boys since birth (according to my mother).
No boyfriend? No sweat. I had LOTS of friends. Almost all of the white. Also, not a problem. I was one of those great products of integration. The child who doesn't see color. My mother worked hard to do what she could to prevent her children from feeling some of the pain she felt growing up. She wanted us to be color blind. Then in kindergarten, someone called me black and I was confused. I took a brown crayon and a black crayon and held them next to my skin and asked which one was closer. One of my first debating victories. I came home so proud. I later learned my mother was crushed. It's not that she didn't want me to know about and be proud of my heritage. It's that she wanted to shield me from any pain as early as possible. I think she couldn't understand why there was some white parent whose child was interacting with hers who felt it necessary to explain to a five-year-old that there are black people and white people. Why does a five-year-old need to know that if not for you to lay the early groundwork to further hundreds of years of separation, confusion and mistrust?
My mother responded by buying me a book about Martin Luther King, Jr. which talked about his own similar experience of black versus brown. That made me proud. I shared something with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.! Except his story ended with him not being able to play with his white friend anymore once they got to school age because the friends mother would no longer allow it. It was time for them to learn their places. I went to my mother to ask her if she thought my friends would do the same. I mean, no way! She implied that it was quite possible and even probable. I didn't believe her anyway. Then I went to middle school.
There were a lot more black people, but I "talk too white" for them and having white friends was a BIG problem. The one black female friend I had from elementary school joined those girls and was suddenly too embarassed to be seen talking to me anymore. See, they learned early, while interacting predomintaely with black people, that the races should indeed be separate, and there weren't too many people around who wanted to change their minds. The separation of the races works both ways. Once you take all the black people out of their cocoon and all the white people out of their cocoon, you have two groups of people who can't relate to one another because the only images they have of each other are the ones they've seen on tv. The jigaboo, the angry black man/woman, the whore, the mammy. The ones with all firehouses, the ones with all the power. At some point, it's all going to explode.
Now my "friends" were less willing to talk to me. And every passing year, I had fewer and fewer friends among the people I was closest to in elementary school. Of course all of it wasn't the clash between black and white. I finally got my core crew of like-minded girls: none of us wanting to become teenage mothers, all of us already thinking about college and making good grades. That was my first group of black friends. In 7th grade. There were also the people who were into some strange things now. Our interests grew in opposite directions, away from each other. But there was at least one girl who told me I shouldn't come to her house anymore because either her mom or her step-dad didn't like black people.
Then there's getting ignored or followed (or both) while shopping. These things slowly chip away at who you are creating a new person. One who is a little more closed off, giving off the angry black woman vibe. Part of my vibe is just me being a bit uncomfortable around strangers at times, but another part of it (beyond not wanting to constantly field stupid black questions) is not wanting to let people in. I would have been a stellar only child. I have many only child traits but as I previously mentioned, all of it starts to wear you down or cause you to build up a wall.
Wise suggests counteracting the 3 black women effect by being nice to a white person today. :) Don't you love how I broke that down? Stop saying no when your white co-worker asks you to accompany them somewhere. Stop being so closed off. How's this for a great point from Wise?
"We expect that when we work hard we ought to be seen as whole and competent and intelligent and nuanced and complex and human. Just like any other woman. Problem is, we don’t care for the follow up. We don’t want you in our business bec we refuse to be exploited. We refuse to give you the satisfaction of thinking you know us." Wise!! You think you know me!! But at some point all that guarding will backfire. Whether personally or professionally, for you, or for the other black people who come behind you, it will backfire. Trust and believe that some people will never, ever get it; but punishing yourself and the world (by denying it yourself) is not the answer. Constantly shutting out the world will get you nowhere but angry(ier) and alone. And I for one want to be no ones stereotype.
*was this state of black america or state of black jameil?