There are rules to being a Black woman in America, or Canada for that matter, and they all revolve around making our white counterparts feel safe and comfortable, while we suffer, struggle, and try to survive.
Even with everything we know about systemic racism, sexual abuse, and trauma, I feel like my job is to be a part of the conversation and now that I am here I am not going backward.
Recently I found out how many of my old friends were bonified, proud racists. I mean I had always known but I had ignored the signs in favor of fitting in and hiding out.
I can’t do that anymore. I can’t just see racism and ignore it, not just because I want to be “brand-worthy”. It has nothing to do with my fucking brand, and everything to do with who I am as a human being.
As a Mixed-Race, Black woman, I don’t have the luxury of ignoring racism when I see it, but I also don’t always have the power to call it out when I see it, because calling it out could have dier consequences for me and the career that I claim to want.
When Sharon Osborn took one look at Sheryl Underwood and said “Don’t you dare cry, I’m the one that should be crying,” I was done. I emotionally checked out of the show and I will personally, no longer be watching it.
That was the moment that I realized that white women, in particular, would rather point at a victim of racism and tell her she doesn’t deserve her tears than to make space for her by changing their own white woman behavior.
I know stepping out of your comfort zone is not comfortable, I know it’s scary, but that doesn’t mean that your fear outweighs ours.
I see it all the time in the circles that I am in. Rather than say something once, white women specifically, will repeat themselves over, and over, and yes, even over again, as if the more they explain it the more that I will be able to understand.
Interestingly you really only need to say things once for me to get it, my being Black doesn’t mean that I am not as smart as you.
Yes, in my case it means I am less educated by the system than you are, but that’s only because I was recovering after one rape after another. That’s only because at night when most kids my age were sleeping so they’d have a good day at school, I was walking the streets because I couldn’t sleep because I was afraid my rapists would come back into my bedroom.
I lived like a homeless person by night for a lot of years. I picked cigarette butts off the ground and I fancied myself an adventurer, all the while ignoring the fact that my behavior was completely dangerous and totally abnormal.
I did everything I could to avoid being raped and no matter where I went, what I did, or what I wore I was sexually abused, and 99% of the time, it was a white guy who had slave rape fantasy’s that he got to act out on my body.
So yes you bet your ass Sharon Osborne I am absolutely entitled to my tears, my fear, my anxiety, my depression, when it comes to the conversation about racism, and your blanket “I’m saying sorry because I know if I don’t say sorry people will hate me more, but if I do say sorry some people will forgive me” apology, doesn’t work for me.
For you to sit there and say you’ve never once noticed how Piers has attacked Meghan Markle, and for you to deny his obvious racism in favor of your own comfort, “if I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist,” attitude, doesn’t work for me.
I choose not to speak for others, perhaps other white people or even other POC will forgive you, and in a way, I have forgiven your faux pas, but I cannot forget.
I can’t forget that a woman I grew up admiring, and respecting, largely because she was everything I wasn’t allowed to respect or like, is the same woman who looked at a Black woman and said “you don’t deserve your tears.”
What you don’t understand about Black women is that one of us is abused, we ALL feel it. When a Black woman suffers, we all storm the gates to defend her, because many of us know what it’s like to be hated for our skin, and to have no one in the world want to defend us.
When a Black woman is abused or traumatized, oftentimes she is told she has no right to cry. She has no right to speak out. She is supposed to keep her head down, her mouth shut, and to shoulder the burden of abuse, trauma, and racism, without saying a word, because that shows strength.
I think personally the exact opposite. I think it takes more strength to say “enough”, but that’s because I know firsthand how difficult it was to come out and share my story publically.
In my case, it took a mental breakdown, and copious amounts of marijuana and other pharmaceutical medications for me to find even ground again, and still some days I fucking waver.
I don’t sleep at night. Most nights I am woken up by the voices of people I trusted, or by the voices of my abusers, worming their way into my dreams to remind me that I am in fact inferior, because of the color of my skin.
The one thing that I cannot control.
Do you want to know how many times I was raped BECAUSE of the color of my skin? Molested by a Priest because I and I quote, “chose to be born brown”? Do you know how many times I was bullied because my hair is curly? or if you’re a white bully, nappy?
Do you know how many times I’ve been told by Black people that I could “pass” for white because they see my skin through a computer camera and think I am pale enough to pass? Thereby disregarding all the pain that I’ve experienced at the hands of white people because I look like I can pass?
Black people are fucking tired. We are tired to our souls, of saying the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.
Every single person who connects with #WEOC writes about racism in one form or another, that is hundreds of articles that you could read all saying the same thing.
Racism is selfish, wrong, and evil. Period.
Just because your eyes aren’t trained to see it, just because you ignore it because that makes your life more comfortable, doesn’t mean that it exists, so maybe if you haven’t seen it, either because you’re blind or because you choose not to, you should just shut the fuck up?!
You sat there on that stupid chair talking about how Piers was a good friend and you’ve never seen or heard him be racist, so then why the fuck do you have an opinion about the conversation?
Especially when MILLIONS of people around the world have watched while he treated Meghan Markle with disrespect, largely because of the color of her skin.
Instead of admitting that he was rejected by Markle and that his ego was hurt, or even better, keeping his fucking mouth shut, he has attacked everything about her. From her claims of racism to her thoughts on suicide, from her looks to what she wears. He has had something to say about everything about her and never once has he had to face consequences for his actions.
Rather than let anyone — let alone another man — a man of color at that — call him out on his behavior, he ran away like an immature child, but that’s okay because Piers is the real victim of racial profiling. Right?
I’m sorry to all the white women out there, who think that a blanket “I’m sorry if you think I hurt your feelings” apology, but that’s not an apology. An apology should start with an “I fucked up,” and end with “I’m sorry, how can I do better?”
You can do better by stepping into someone else’s shoes. Sheryl says that you’re a friend of hers, but I don’t believe it. I don’t believe you can look at a woman you respect and genuinely love, and tell her that a terrible experience that affects her emotions, should have no effect on her. I can’t believe you really support her when you tell her that your tears are more important than hers.
I don’t hate you, I forgive you, but you have a lot of work to do before I am willingly going to sit for an hour and listen to how you see the world. I don’t care.
I’m out here trying to continue to educate people who refuse to be educated, about the harm that racism causes to this planet. I don’t have time to educate someone who thinks she’s too important to be educated.
That picture of me might not be the best photo I have of myself, but you know what? I don’t have the energy to be the best version of myself all the time. I’m too busy dodging people who hate me because the color of my skin is three shades darker than theirs.
Devon J Hall