That White Privilege

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At work, I was talking to co-workers about what kind of books I write and like to read. One of these co-workers was an older white man, we’ll call him Tim. I said the words,

I like writing and reading about Black women characters and characters of Color in fantasy fiction and romance. There is a real deficit of those kinds of characters in the media because people don’t see us in the those genres because the market is still white-dominated.

Tim said he understood what I meant and liked reading anything that was engaging. The comment sounded innocent but translated as Race doesn’t matter or We’re all human. Which, to me, is hardly ever an appropriate response to what I said because it sounds dismissive and like something a colorblind racist would say. But I dropped it and moved on.

The next time I came around that day, Tim said, “I hope this doesn’t sound offensive (Me:<__< *gives side eye*) but don’t you think things have changed? There are more Black people and people who aren’t white everywhere” as he gestured around the office at all our Mexican and otherwise non-white co-workers.

…Which is ridiculous to even utter because we work in a city that’s predominantly Mexican@.

No, white Tim did not just go there with the “White people are becoming a minority, white people are oppressed” argument. So you notice more People of Color than you’re used to? So you’re a minority now? Smh. Lose any degree of privilege, any little inch, and the complaining starts. White people, overnight, in an instant, become just as oppressed as everybody else.

Tim, my white co-worker, engaged me twice more that day, asking if I watched shows like Luke Cage and Empire. Or films like 12 Years A Slave and Roots, which he said was educational to him. To which I replied–

Some people get educated. Other people get reminded.

The fact that these are the only shows and movies he can name SPEAKS IN VOLUMES.

Tim went on to say that, “I know a lot of Black people. None of them really like fantasy fiction like that.”

To which I replied,

You’re talking to one right now. People think we don’t exist but we do.

We get corralled into certain genres by a white dominated industry, that tells us we’re not marketable in this area or that genre. Yet we’re just fine in some dark broom closet of academia at a university constantly explaining ourselves to them in thesis papers and quirky little cultural awareness workshops. Or playing football and rapping. Or writing ratchet drama and slave narratives. As a result, this is what happens: White people treat me like I’m a [magical, instigating black] unicorn when I come around.

Everything Tim said to at work that day me came off as confrontational. Argumentative. And it reminded me of the situation I’ve been placed n so many times. That situation–

When white people act like they want to talk to you about your experiences and views but they really just want to argue with you about it

Likely to make themselves feel like the society white conquerors built and continue to enforce has changed more than it actually has. And to make themselves feel better and like we live in a just society.

Ultimately, I felt like I was put on the spot, Like I, once again, had to be “the Black voice”. It was tiring and anxiety-inducing. And totally infuriating.

Black Women Characters–some things change a little, some things stay A LOT the same

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Where before there were none, the media landscape is now littered with very targeted, very selective images of Black people and of Color peoples/characters. OR people who are very racially ambiguous. So things seem to change…only to actually stay the same. I think about this…

Every time I read a book where the only Black woman you see is one who is light-skin or obviously mixed. If there are any at all.

Every time I watch TV and I see a dark skin Black man with a mixed or lighter-skin Black woman or a woman of a different race.

You got three options when you read most books, watch a movie or TV, or even in ads:

  1. Racially ambiguous–very popular, very deliberate
  2. White–the racist standard
  3. Tokens, sidekicks, and stereotypes–the fallback for ignorance and bigoted comfort

Black woman/Black people and of Color peoples and characters might be appearing more frequently in the media. But has how they’re being portrayed really changed all that much? #Blackcharacters #charactersofColor

 

#343: Number Again

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I’m a number again. A different number this year but still a number.

I am not a machine. I am a person. Unfortunately, I live in a country where people seem to need money so I have to work. Hopefully, something will come out of this. And not just endless amounts of frustration, anxiety, and empty pockets.

This time around, I do feel like I’m handling things better. And I feel more confident. So here’s to people treated like cogs in the machine and doing my best.

Just Business?

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Today, I attended a breakfast meeting hosted by the Black Chamber of Commerce. I am an independent author and I own an Etsy store that I don’t talk about on this blog. The volunteer coordinator that I work with suggested I attend this meeting after I told her about my online store. Sooooo…I went to their monthly breakfast meeting this morning.

It wasn’t very comfortable for me. Lone, Black independent author and textile artist sitting in room full of people belonging to “legitimate” businesses and organizations. When I introduced myself, there wasn’t a sense that very many of them cared about what I do. And I printed business cards and everything *sad face* I’m not some big name. I have literally no connections. I can’t get them funding for their organization’s interests and I cannot fund them. Those business people didn’t give a damn who I was. That’s how I felt.

And do they really think I can afford to join? $85, $150 a year and up. Girl, please. The struggle is real. I would have to be sure an investment like that is worth it.

I don’t think of myself as a business owner. What’s more, business feels like a dirty word to me. A cold, dirty, cutthroat capitalist word. As a child who was on medicaid, Section 8, and attending public schools, I grew up at the mercy and whims of such faceless entities such as non-profits, government, and businesses with all their talk of money, budgets, and “funding”. Now that I’m an adult that hasn’t changed. These system people are still failing me after an entire childhood of watching them value, revalue, and devalue my life.

Everyone at the breakfast was a little curt, to the point, and looking for useful names to add to their digital Rolodex. Pretty sure I wasn’t one of those names. On the one hand, its a use and be used system. I’m not sure if I want to fit directly into something like that.

I want to say something empowering or helpful to anyone reading this. Smh. Too tired.

November

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I’ve achieved a lot this year and still have a little more to go. I’m very close to finishing another fantasy fiction novel that I’m very proud of. I’m feeling more confident putting my manuscripts/novels out there for other people to see.

I made a few offline sales with my small crafting business. (Getting people to buy stuff online is the problem.)

National Novel Writing Month didn’t completely defeat me this month and I’m at about 44,000 words in my 50,000 word goal.

I let go of some unhealthy attachments and worked on taking better care of myself.

But today was just full of trials. My mother’s ex-husband is still stalking me online and off. He sent a package to my house today, which was rejected. He has been trying to use my social security number and my sister’s on his taxes. My family is as abusive as ever on top of this. Luckily I have one person in my life other than myself who seems to truly care about my well being. Otherwise, I’d go crazy.

Full Disclosure

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Recently, I visited a podiatrist to check my overall foot health. Not only was the appointment uninformative and he did not examine my feet, the doctor made an unsolicited, medically unnecessary comment about my weight that had nothing to do with my feet. I reported him to this state’s Medical Board.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had nothing but negative experiences with doctors because I’ve never been skinny. They’re all like, “Got a cold–lose weight.” “Need some ibuprofen for those headaches–lose weight”. “Depressed and suicidal because your family is abusive–lose weight.” All doctors have ever done is look at me and see a number. Dehumanize me. Humiliate and anger me. Make things worse for me, for the most part.

Though it’s not proven by any stretch of the imagination, some doctors attack an overweight/obese state as a disease or automatically as a symptom for EVERYTHING. Patients have the right to know whether or not the doctors who see them are going to treat being overweight or obese as a disease itself. Let’s face it: Most doctors operate under the belief that being fat is always bad. In a society with a huge and shameless weight loss industry and a medical industry based in shady pseudo-science, outright bigotry, and inhumane experimentation (especially regarding Black people), I would argue that it’s necessary for a doctor to disclose the understandings and beliefs they operate under to their potential patients so patients can decide for themselves if they want to be treated by them.

After all, why do doctors get to know tons of personal information about you but you don’t get to know anything about them?

Because if I go to a foot doctor for a routine foot examination and some dumb bastard tells me to lose weight (without looking at my feet at all, mind you), I’m going to question why he has a medical license and worry about all his patients.

Weight loss women

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I’ve struggled all my life with the attitudes of this fatphobic society and what it means to be a fat girl in this society. It’s not fun.

Recently, my mom has lost a lot of weight. She makes offhand comments about other women making envious and flattering remarks to her about her weight loss. “HOW did you lose all that weight?” or “What’s your secret, I’m so jealous!” I know my mom only mentions this to me as a form of bragging and being deeply flattered by these women’s comments and envy.

It would be different if they were complimenting her because she’s meeting a known weight loss goal for her health or even her personal image. But unfortunately when these women are participating in this catty, stereotypical, and fatphobic behavior, what they don’t know is that mom’s weight loss is the result of a very extreme diet placed on her by her doctor because she has spent the majority of her adult life mismanaging her Type 2 diabetes and must now change her eating habits or risk further complications and danger to her life. Hence the weight loss.

My recent blood tests prove that I do not have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, my kidneys are good, my A1C1 is in a non-diabetic range and my blood sugar is well-controlled. The only concern that the doctor has is that my BMI is really high. He’s concerned because I’m “very obese”.

Meaning, doctors don’t like that I’m fat. And feel the need to wag their fingers in my face.

Even if my blood test didn’t read so good, it would be the same. Because me being fat is the problem to these so-called doctors who are oh-so “concerned about my ‘health’.”

The envy of the women complimenting my mom, my family’s mistreatment, my mom’s attitude about her body and mine, my sister’s obsession with weight loss and beauty, the attitude of these doctors–the only thing this proves to me is that they aren’t concerned with health at all, let alone holistic health. They are concerned with the appearance of fitness, thinness/skinniness, patriarchal stamps of approval, and universal conformity.

Everybody’s bodies and conditions are different yet they are all treated the same. I find no comfort or faith in a society where the only thing another Black woman can think of to say to me is, “You’ve lost so much weight, OMG, I’m so jealous. Tell me your secret!” And I momentarily shut my mom’s camouflaged bragging down by saying as much.

#teamstillfat

Bias Against An Oppressor?

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Like anyone else who has experienced repeated traumas as a member of an oppressed group, I can be unintentionally biased against individuals when I’m not on my game (tired of sorting the good apples from the hellacious mountain of bad ones, so to speak). Sometimes I completely run out of patience with the groups I view as the source of my suffering or the source of a given issue.

But I wonder if it’s possible to be truly biased or prejudiced against a race that has violently maimed and is still actively oppressing your race. For example, I’ve had to accept white racism/anti-Black racism as a fact of the society and world that I live in. I give everybody the benefit of the doubt. But I can’t change history and I can’t the direct and indirect experiences of ignorance, systemic violence, and hate that is often triggered by living a white-dominated society where anti-Black racism is still a common and accepted practice. I often practice kindness. However, white folks make me wary and weary because no matter how open and kind I try to be with them, they typically eventually disgrace my efforts to control my reactions to my triggers by adding new disappointing stories to my life experiences with their behaviors, casual attitudes, and beliefs. What do other people think? Is it possible to be biased or prejudice against a group that has violently oppressed your race for, like, three centuries or more and continues to do so?

Little Black boy

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Its nothing new that white people murder Black people because, for the most part, they get away with it. It’s the reason why people are on the streets yelling about Black lives mattering. It should be obvious that all life is sacred. Yet we live in a society where one race is still allowed to destroy the lives of another out of petty hate and an unfounded sense of superiority. And its still, to an extent, sanctioned by law. It’s horrifying.

I don’t discuss recent events concerning this on my blog unless I directly involve myself in it by taking the time to slog through the news feed and sort out its discrepancies.

If my brother was still alive, I would worry for him. I worry for Black children. Nothing compares to being seen through the eyes of a baby. A newborn has recently changed my view of myself, just with the love shining in his brown eyes. And I love him and I worry for him. Because we live in a world where he could be shot down just for being born Black.

Anybody could be killed at any moment. But there is something to be said for your life expectancy dropping because people hate Black folks.

Writing What I Want to Read As A Black Woman Writer

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It is very, very very hard to find fantasy fiction or fiction of any kind that features Black women characters as the main characters. Yes, yes, yes–I’ve heard of Octavia Butler, so please have a seat. In the recent past, people have been convinced that there are no Black fiction writers, especially not Black women writers. This is not true, whether this perception stems from racism and disparity in the publishing market or lack of exposure, it just ain’t true. I know because I am a Black fiction writer and I know I’m not the only one. I am afraid that every time someone says that, a Black writer with a story worth telling gives up, adding to the isolation that some Black writers like me feel.

Even so, I am proud to say that even with all the challenges I face, I have not given up. I have not let go of the stories I want to tell. Writing is not a hobby to me. It is a means of survival and a calling.

This month, I am writing a chapter a day on Jukepop. Its a high fantasy novella/novel. Twelve days, twelve chapters so far. The main characters of my book are Black girls and I love them. I’m happy that I’m writing the kind of story I want to read, putting it out there everyday for everyone to see. Maybe some other people will read it too.

To the Black woman I love the most, thank you. I wanted to write you the story you deserve, I’m not sure if I succeeded but I hope you find a warm, happy place for this story in your heart. Many Happy Returns, my dear, sweet girl.