We live in the era of people, even other Black people, who are “illegitimatizing” the anger or passionate expressions of those who feel strongly about the issues facing us.
This isn’t new, of course, but here we go.
The cool head will tell you how to express yourself, to who, and when. They will show you that whatever you’re feeling can be conveyed calmly and rationally. They strongly believe that the peoples and institutions wronging you will eventually thank you for being so patient and understanding and once your oppressors are calmly, willingly, and rationally educated by you, you can have your freedom.
Now, of course, I’ve seen people who in my opinion don’t think and get violently angry or emotional, so to speak, to the point where they don’t even realize what they’re saying and doing, and that’s how they express themselves. I don’t condone that nor do I like it.
At the same time, I’ve had people tell me to “grow tough skin”, “you can’t fight fire with fire”, and “emotion, in this or that situation is inappropriate”. And I can’t say how much I wish all those people who pipe down and have a seat with their misguided lecturing because they’re not doing me any favors.
If its one thing I can’t stand, its people who act cool and unphased but the truth is that they probably angrier or crazier (or something) than I am. What I hate more is people who actively and passively police others by acting like they’re better because they can “control” themselves or because showing emotion is somehow unseemly or unhelpful. While they sit in the background, talkin’ ’bout “I ain’t gone get my blood pressure up”, everyone else is on the real, keeping it real and doing what’s necessary to bring about change and transformation.
There are different temperaments, different ways of dealing with emotion, different ways of expressing oneself, and different demeanors for everyone. Some people are just predispositioned towards “cool-headedness”. Some cultivate this attitude as a coping mechanism to deal with stressful environments and their own low tolerance for stress. Some people just live in their own world and can’t be bothered with the issues, even if it effects them. Sometimes people are just apathetic. Some people really believe acting like a popscicle is the best way.
Well, welcome to the real world, where you will melt outside your little freezer, your little isolated, climate-controlled environment. It’s 104 degrees outside, walk that.
I, for one, have a disposition towards hotheadedness. I have a high capacity for expression and consistently have trouble finding people who respect me and can not only deal with it but embrace me. I am constantly judged by people who use cool-headedness as a coping mechanism to smother their emotions.
With little to no thanks to anyone else, its taken me a long time to get to a point where I understand that this is who I am, a very warm person, and I can’t tone down who I am just for others to accept me.
Telling someone to be cool seems to me to lead down a path of indoctrination that doesn’t allow people to be sick and tired of being sick and tired, which leads to things staying just how privileged folks want them to be. Anger, too, is necessary, to stop apathy and internalization that starts like pin prick but spreads like a poison.
With regards to racism, I’ve known a lot of cool-headed folks to handhold racist whites through their issues and judge those reckless people who just won’t “control their anger”. They are usually the most internally racist people I know and they both anger and scare me because of how ambiguous they are about it. I don’t think I have yet to meet one person of ice who keeps it cool and puts the chill on bigots at the same time.
Maybe we need both, people of fire and people of ice. But, in my opinion, its the cool-headed ones, who rely on the same illogical logic and shifting reason that are used against the oppressed, who are easily fooled by the idea that being angry or not being angry or emotional actually matters in the end. In the end, whether you’re cool or hot, they put their foot on your head and grind you in to the dirt just to stand a few inches higher.
So don’t try to act like you’re better because you flick ice cubes at them. Or worse, because you’re apathetic and passive and already dead on the inside.