Thursday, March 29, 2007

the truth of the matter

Testifying against "the myth of continuing African-American victimhood"

"Discussing John Locke, my TA turns to me and asks, "So... what are your views on the matter?", looking at me with a certain amount of trepidation, knowing that this question was not asked in the spirit of intellectual admiration for my thoughts but because in spite of his liberal upbringing, he was curious what this black girl's view on John Locke could be."

"Today in Ivy Noodle, the Chinese woman up front saw me walk in and gave me a look as if to say, 'Am I going to have to deal with this ignorant, loud-mouth, -----?' " Five minutes later, she turns to a popped-collar white couple (this is in fact what they were both wearing, not a euphemism) and says "Oh Mr and Mrs, thanks so much. How was the food? Be sure to have a great night." In the same moment, she turns and shoves my order to me. The "thank you" was barely out of my mouthbefore she turned her back, signalling good bye...and good riddance. We ought to have been allies, I wanted to say."

"My niece asked me today, "Auntie, what is slavery?" And I looked at her terrified and incapacitated. How do I explain history without giving my girl the chains?"

"I was in line and he was saying some things I thought were latently racist and I decided to turn around and you know, say something. All of a sudden, he goes "Woaah! Don't get so angry with me. Calm down!" And I was like, so when a Black man dares to disagree, it's irrational anger? You have not seen my rage."

"Section: we were talking about the systemic rape of women during war as a political, war-time act to break down family structures in World War I and my entire class agreed that nothing comparable had ever occurred in the US. Did they forget the institution of slavery, or is that chapter of racial history so closed, it is not worthy even a passing remembrance?"

"She says accidentally but so transparently, 'patriarchy i mean, doesn't really exist in places like here, not as much as like I don't know, Africa...?' "

we write to assert that our experiences exist to the contrary of claims whether made in nationally established magazines or personal encounters. the testimonies above (abridged, i admit, through my voice) are acts of assertion against systemic attempts to erase evidence to the contrary.

giving word to our experiences, we cease to sustain silence which is the life-blood to racist hierarchies and in our speaking out, we are finding a community of individuals who have similarly travelled along this path of injustice and we will build a canon of evidence of present-day racism so that someday the proof of our experiences as racialized individuals will overflow the lexicon of newspapers, literature, art. the totalitarian mindset prefers to rationalize its destructive acts through willing ignorance that permits him or her to accept the status quo, this totalitarian mindset will be overrun by evidence.

racism in the 21st century is not a fiction.

the dissolution of jim crow, the subsequent and so-called independence of African states, the rise of Condoleeza Rice to Barak Obama, our spotted presence in choice elite institutions, etc - they do not collectively act as a period to a history. they do not disavow the actuality of day-to-day life as black people.

and in part what i'm attempting to do in giving word to these experiences is make the listener understand the CRISIS of the incommunicable, the sensation of belittlement/shock/degradation/frustration/hilarity/irony/anger that overtake us when we are faced with these. in testifying, one attempts to legitimatize the experience while also attempting to convey the gap between the word on the page and the immediacy of sentiment.

but i should make something clear, we're no victims.
our words are that first, elemental step in the battle.

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