What do you do when you know in your heart of hearts a situation is unfair or imbalanced and tipped in another’s direction but those around you refuse to acknowledge it? Instead they ask you for “proof” or say you are “blocking” goodness because you recognize the presence of for lack of a better work, evil? Reacting with a negative mindset to things that occur that are wrong may not work in the long run of one’s life but then what’s an appropriate reaction and when does it cross the line from useful survival skill to an impediment to future peace of mind?
I watched Real Time last night and in an oh so typical fashion the resident Republican – a white male – insisted on being presented with “proof” that Rush Limbaugh is racist. Ha! What are we supposed to come up with, a Race-O-Meter? Some things don’t require scientific study to present the results of its existence. He also went on to say that calling someone a racist was the worst name anyone could use. I can think of several words that cause far more harm to a much larger population than who he’s trying to protect.
Think of how Black women who can’t (or won’t) conform to a European standard of beauty in their physical features, skin tone or hair texture are referred to as ugly – and by other Blacks usually. Think of how a woman who weighs more than 135 lbs is called fat and even if she is, she can be treated with such disdain that seeking the comfort of more “forbidden” foods is often the knee-jerk reaction. Think of how transgendered men and women are flung to the edges of the vast Gay Rights Industrial Complex not wanting to be seen or heard from until it’s politically expedient to do so.
So….what came first….the chicken or the egg? I can speak from personal experience that yes I have had a negative mindset about many things and I am very well aware of how holding on to past hurts can further impact your life. That doesn’t stop me from recognizing the good people that are still out there or make me any less grateful for the good that is in my life. It does mean that as a Black woman from a non-elite class I need to have several strategies at my disposal to negotiate my way through life. I tried operating from the “life should be fair and everyone should act right” mentality and got my butt kicked! I tried magical thinking that if I was 100% good and true that most people would do so as well. That didn’t work either. Being mad all the time can be draining though. Failure to recognize racist/sexist constructs though is like walking into the lion’s den with a slab of raw meat. The odds of not making it out alive and intact aren’t good!
We have to work in a racist construct, a sexist one, an ageist one and an appearance-based one amongst others. I’ve been underpaid when my skill set would indicate I’d be entitled to better compensation but women are not paid their worth. If I had access to certain people/institutions I could have been in charge of something as I’ve had bosses who were far less skilled and intelligent than I who were. So life isn’t fair and though that may be distressing for some to hear it’s far worse for those that have to live it via the short end of the stick.
We also have to take responsibility for doing our part and being our best. But trying to run at full speed on a twisted ankle is problematic. Perhaps it will heal on its own. Maybe we’d need time for that and haven’t been afforded it. It may hurt and pretending it doesn’t isn’t solving the matter at hand. Neither is screaming at the top of your lungs that it hurts. Having a support system in place can be the difference between a life of plenty and one of wanting.
For it may have in fact healed but we may think there’s still an injury in place. Who’s to say what’s the best antidote or remedy? We owe no explanations or justifications to those that would deny our pain. Pointing it out and expressing their discomfort about seeing it does nothing to help the person move on either. It can’t always be about what’s convenient and suggesting that someone “get over” a traumatic situation isn’t really fair when there’s no real emotional investment or concern about that person in the first place. Even if there is we all have to walk our own paths and take our own journeys. It isn’t our responsibility to validate our existence, our experiences to others. We have to decide whether we are going to be an ally to each other and sometimes the specific parameters must be on a “need to know” basis.