It’s exhausting being a black woman. It’s tiring being fully aware that all of your actions are used as representation of what it is to be a black woman. Unless you’re amongst those you know, others will forever see you as a caricature of your race, rather than the whole individual person you are. Anything outside of the stereotype is attributed to you being different, and thus are not one of “them browned skin people, you know, the others who aren’t ok!”
This isn’t just reserved for black women, men etc but everyone who doesn’t fit into what it’s imagined to be the norm. My gay friends have had this especially throughout history, the idea that your sexuality is the most distinguishing part of your personality. I acknowledge their struggles and I stand with all for I believe that all rights are human rights. I’d like to stop distinguishing different attributes and accept that everyone, yes EVERYONE, has the right to live in peace, safety, have shelter, food, clean water and education.
It’s exhausting being black because you have to not only be aware of others’ reaction to you, but that it’s expected for you to take into account their feelings. How they perceive you, out in public matters, whilst your own views, how you perceive them is secondary. Why? Because they have power over you. Power that is attributed to them simply by having fairer skin, by being white. This is so deep ingrained, that it’s the norm, not just in western countries but globally.
My family and I were entering into Zanzibar harbour on one of our family holidays. The officials didn’t like the way I behaved, I was my confident self minding my business reading my book. I didn’t pay heed to their status which meant they wanted to show their control over me. I could tell this for I’d seen this behaviour all of my life. That show of force. They pulled me to the side, pulled my book off me and lost the page I was on. They went to open up my luggage, but my dad saw this and came over. As soon as he spoke to me, the officials demeanour changed, becoming comically polite. They even apologised to my dad and off we went.
It was a small incident, but one that’s repeated over and over. Being a confident black woman is exhausting. If I hadn’t been with my white family, and thus under their perceived protection, I’d have behaved differently. I’d have been meeker, trying to fit into the background so that they wouldn’t make life harder just because they could. I’d have fallen into the trope of “good little woman” to help me get to my destination. I’d have had to take into account their feelings toward me and act accordingly.
Situations call for different approaches and behaviour, I agree. But, being a black woman, I have to be constantly aware of how people look upon me and how my actions may affect other black women. We don’t have the same freedoms to just be. It’s exhausting, and until we can each be viewed as a person rather than a representation of a people, stomping out racism will remain a mountain to climb rather than a hill.