You Are Not Allowed to Tell Me How to Feel

I am awake. I just had a nightmare about weird zombie government experiments. Sitting in bed trying to slow my heart rate I run through my day. It was a good day. Great time at work, finished a first draft with my writing partner, skyped with my dad. Why was I having this nightmare? The walk.

Last night, my husband and I took a walk. My dad told me about the father of my step-brothers. This man recently had to have part of his foot removed because of diabetes. I have been meaning to take better care of my body. So, hearing this story motivated me to take a late evening walk with my husband.

It was a good walk. You could see the stars and no one else was really out because we live in a community of mostly families and it was late. Most of these families were probably putting their kids to sleep. As we were finishing our loop a big truck drove by and when it was right next to us it honked its horn.

This sent both my husband and I into panic mode. Get home. Get home. We both sped up our pace and walked as quickly as we could. My husband reassured me that the truck wasn’t turning around and that it was ok. I felt a little better, but we both kept walking quickly.

Before I continue you should know that I am a non-white person and my husband is a white person.

Luckily for my husband and me the car didn’t turn around. This did however change our conversation. I mentioned that the other day I was walking to our car and noticed that our downstairs neighbor had a confederate flag blanket in their window. This blanket had not been in the window before that day. When I saw it I quickened my pace and tried not to think of it. After the honking thing, though, I told my husband.

Was this why they had never really warmed to us? Friends of theirs just moved into the apartment below us. What are their feelings toward an inter-racial couple? If I am being truly honest I mainly worry about their feelings toward me. In the eyes of people who hate, I am the problem; my husband would be fine if he wasn’t married to me, he’s white.

As we continued to walk, my husband mentioned an article in response to statements made by Rush Limbaugh in September about Ohio State University’s new policy regarding consent before having sex. He didn’t remember where he had read this article, but he liked what the person who wrote it had to say in response to Limbaugh’s comments. This person simply stated that you are not allowed to tell other people how to feel.

This instantly rang true with me, not relating to my identity as a woman but to my identity as a person of color. I told my husband that it would be nice if when I got into a conversation with a white person about race they just realized this simple fact from the article. Even if they truly do believe that racism is a construct and I just overreact to things, it would be nice if before making it about them and their own insecurities they could acknowledge something about me and my experience.

It would be really nice if they could acknowledge that for me every day I wake up; I am being judged by the world. That although the driver of that truck may not have been concerned with me, a person of color, holding my husband’s hand, for about a block and a half I was scared.

I was so scared that my subconscious tried to work it out with a dream about horrible zombie government experiments. If you have stuck with me this far I thank you.

After having a scary dream and waking up to realize that there is something scarier in real life, there is little you can do. I chose in this moment to try to help others understand what I feel sometimes. Even if it is just in my and my husband’s heads; we feel it. We felt it on the dark street corner when that car honked. We feel it when people look at us just a little bit strangely.

It would be nice if just once rather than tell us to feel differently people would first acknowledge that we feel those things. While this does happen on occasion it is too rarely.

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