I have been debating posting this for a day or two now, finding myself pretty sure that, if I did post it, that there would be backlash from probably more than one corner and I might even ostracize myself. But a friend posted something lit that fire in my gut again and I found my decision had been made. So, here we go.
Warning: this is rant so…yeah. It might contain some stronger language than I usual use and might make you angry. It might embarrass you. You are under no obligation to read it. You’ve been warned.
On Saturday Night Live this past weekend, they put on their “28 Reasons” sketch in honor (and I use that term VERY loosely) of Black History Month. In the sketch, the teacher of a class announces that it is Black History Month and then calls on the only three black students in the entire class to make their presentation. I know it was a joke and meant to be funny, but all it did was make me angry and insulted. I am deeply insulted at the even comedic use of slavery as an excuse for deference, advancement, etc. I do not believe in making people feel guilty for something that their ancestors may have done but has nothing to do with them today in 2014. I am the daughter of two Caribbean parents, so the likelihood of my ancestors being slaves is probably pretty strong. But I refuse to carry the grudge of anger, injustice, and chains that have never been mine, not even jokingly. It’s wrong and just as insensitive and wrong as the jerk over there making jokes about people, ANY people.
Years ago, one of my family members pointed out, while I was in college, that most of my friends were white. My reply to her question of, “Do you see anything wrong with this picture?” as she held up a photo of my friends and I was, “Nope, not a thing.” Let’s be totally honest here! Not a damn thing was wrong with that picture!
You might not hear this very often but it’s the truth: I am a black woman of privilege. I see myself as privileged in that I had my bachelor’s and master’s degrees under my belt by the age of 23, funded by scholarships that I applied for and earned based on my academics, not my skin color. I am privileged in that I had the opportunity to spend 6 wonderful years with my husband, living, working, and loving together as we learned how to be together. I am privileged in that we own our own home and that we are comfortable enough so that I have been able to stay home with my thirteen-month-old daughter since she was born. I am privileged in that I can go to the store and buy what I need when I need it, without worrying how I am going to pay for it. I am privileged in that I have the support of close family and friends. I am privileged in that I get to sit here and blog and share my experiences, heart, and mind, with whatever corners of the world choose to read it.
I hate generalizations. I hate accusations. I hate a sense of entitlement, that you should be treated differently or kowtowed to because “they should be damned sorry for what their family did” or whatever. Call me disloyal, call me an oreo or whatever you want, I don’t care. IT IS NOT RIGHT! I am not going to sit here and say that prejudice and racism do not exist; I would be a foolish, blind woman to believe or say so. Racism/prejudice/injustice exists, sure as the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening. People earn less in jobs/careers, have lower positions, and are disrespected outright without cause, because of the color of their skin (white people included), but can also be so because of their religions, their sexual orientations, and their educations or lack thereof regardless of their talent or skill. I acknowledge it, I work against it as best I can in my community of life, but I refuse to live my live defined by it. How can I show love if I am always angry? How can I encourage others if I am always screaming? My loved ones are my loved ones, not colors or orientations or religions. I was raised to be a person, not a color. And I will raise my daughter to be a person, not a color. I will raise her to love her fellow man, regardless of what is on the outside. I want her to be a girl and then a woman who looks at the hearts of those she meets and shows them hers. I want her to be strong in herself and her beliefs, but I do not want to raise her in anger or fear or hate. She was conceived in love, born into love, and I want her to live in love.
To circle this around to my original rant. Even when issues of hatred, resentment, and, yes, racism are played out as jokes, the idea that they are giving levity to the situation, it’s not funny. At least it’s not to me. I cannot tell you how often I have had to correct 8th grade students because they said things that they heard on shows like SNL and Tosh 2.0, thinking that they were funny but just came off as offensive and insulting. It’s a bad message to send, in my opinion.
*sighs and climbs down from my soapbox* I think I was all over the place, but I think I am done.