Before I start, I want to mention that I am an Afrikan woman living in the United States. However, upon my arrival, I quickly learned that there is an identity that was manufactured for people like me. It did not matter that I was not African American or that I was Afrikan, I became Black.
So I have a confession…
I am BLACK, I am a WOMAN and I am ANGRY!
When you meet me, you see notice that I’m a Black woman. I am not neither only Black nor only woman. I am both, everyday. This means I face racism, sexism as well as the threat of Black male violence.
Systematic oppression affects my emotional life. I listen to people make jokes ridiculing MY HISTORY AND MY PEOPLE, how can you ask me to leave out my emotions when talking about it? I have to deal with people objectifying me everyday as a woman. I battle with the idea that people feel rightfully entitled to MY BODY. And I have to face the fact that we have been socialized to see Black women as synonymous to ugly. I have friends who have watched family members go to jail, I know countless people who have been homeless and have peers who cannot afford basic human needs. How then can you ask me to keep out my emotions when speaking on all these issues? I did not wake up one day and decide to be a salty and shady person. My anger is a result of years and years of systematic oppressions.
I cannot take away the fact that I am Black and a woman. I do not have the privilege to wake up one day and decide that I am not a Black woman anymore and stop facing the oppressions that people of color face. And as a Black woman, I carry a lot of ancestral and present burden. Regardless of all these burdens, I am so proud of being a Black woman. My sisters and I remind each other every day that we are created of honey, cocoa, brown sugar and gold. We are the reason the moon has never given up its light even if it isn’t as bright as the sun. I have so much respect and love for Black women.
However, Black women are so at the bottom of the privilege scale. When Black women are free of the systematic oppressions they face, many people will be free. The Black men will be free, the white female will be free and then we will. We acknowledge the fact that before we can ever be free, certain people will have to be free before us. Therefore, many of us recognize the importance of intersectionality, thus, being allies to those that are even outside our own identities. For example, as a heterosexual Black woman who understands the importance of intersectionality, I am an advocate for those who identify with the LGBTQ community. I recognize my privilege as a heterosexual woman and my role in deconstructing and reconstructing the community.
I am angry because there has been a history of Black women being allies to white women as well as Black men but when it came to advocating for us, women of color, everyone decides that they are not in the position to support us or that it isn’t even their responsibility. I mean look at the history of feminism (“formal” feminism which does not include pre-colonial and non-Victorian Afrikan feminism). White women were satisfied fighting their fight and when Black women reminded them that they,too, were women, they decided it was time for them to dip.
I am angry because as a Black woman in a higher education institution, I am constantly being put in a position to find solutions for the issues that I face. I am not being paid for this! There are people hired specifically for this. Why am I spending time that I could use to do homework, get ahead in class and just relax and be a college student, to do their job? I know many will say we don’t have to but let me just say that we actually have to. If we don’t find solutions for these issues that affect us, no one will because it does not affect them. We need to reevaluate our responsibilities in higher institutions. It is NOT my duty as an oppressed person to teach the oppressor and it is NOT my duty as a student to come up with solutions either. In an era when Black lives matter movements occur, we have demonstrations of #HandsUpDontShoot and hold vigils, obviously the administrations know there is a higher level of racial talk.
My institution is filled with wonderful and courageous social activists who have been involved in social movements prior to DePauw. You can bet on the fact that we will talk about these issues, not leaving any out. I am angry because as the administration, how can you tell me that you don’t know what to do when one of your students is faced with police brutality? How can you tell me that you don’t know what to do when students of color tell you that they don’t feel safe? This only shows that after all our efforts to raise racial awareness, you have failed to go back home and educate yourself more. You are privileged with the ability to go back home and not have to think of these issues while I continue to live it. Out of everything, I am done doing your job. I am going to continue putting pressure on institutions to find solutions. I will protest; silently, peacefully and whatever else is necessary. I will not sit to draft solutions or new policies. All you need to know is that students are feeling unheard and unsafe and it is your responsibility to fix it, not me.
I am angry because when it is convenient for my image to come up or time to protest, everyone supports my presence and contribution but when it is relevant for my concerns to be raised but makes the white population uncomfortable then I cannot exist. I am shut down. I am irrelevant. I am silenced. I fight for women, I fight for people of color and I fight for women of color because these are my identities and they are so deeply intertwined. I cannot stand for one and not the other.
I am angry because certain people feel entitled to certain spaces and tell me I cannot raise my concerns in them. We talk about systematic oppression when we wake up, during lunch, in class and any casual walk back to the resident halls. Therefore, you CANNOT TELL ME WHEN I CAN AND CANNOT talk about these systematic oppressions (and isms) that I face EVERYDAY. There is no space where I cannot talk about them because I face these issues EVERYWHERE.
My anger is self- explanatory. I will curse you out if you think you are entitled to my body or feel like changing Black Lives Matter to All Lives Matter without any single knowledge of the history and goal of BLM movement. I have all the rights to curse out people in positions of power that have neglected acknowledging racial issues that occur in the spaces that I am apart of. My anger is the face of my fear, pain, shame, being silenced and ignored.
Again, I am Black. I am a Woman. I am angry and it is fine.
My anger is the reason I see hope and the reason I fight everyday.
You will not silent me because I am no longer afraid or ashamed of the fact that I am angry.
I do not apologize if my tears and anger makes you uncomfortable.