I started this post on December 6, 2016 like this…
For the first time in my life, I see myself clearly on a track and feel uncertain how to get off. The horrible injustice that seems to be finding its way to my eyes for consumption and emotional response has increased greatly. I am not stating that the amount of injustice in the world has changed, merely my observance of it.
My default response to most things is sadness and empathy. I feel sadness that the world continues to exist this way and that our global community cannot figure out how to listen deeper and love greater. Then I try to understand why and how the conflicts, disagreements and deaths happen. A new response is slowly rising within me.
I am angry. I am annoyed. I am furious. I feel deep rage. I wish ugly horrible things to the leaders instigating and calling for violence and intolerance.
This is not who I have been in the past. Anger for many reasons is not my default emotion. Anger makes me feel powerless. All of my impulses are good neither for me nor the world at large. So I sit turning the anger inward and it becomes deep sadness. It is better for these reasons to avoid this emotion. Only recently and out of necessity have I begun to embrace it.
This does not change however that I feel myself pulled in a direction with no way to deviate. There are two of me. The empathetic me tied to the train tracks and the angry me gleefully blowing the horn of the train about to run empathetic me over. Angry me has a handlebar mustache and evil laugh. I need both mes to get off the tracks.
I realize that within the anger there are deeper feelings. Behind my anger is a sense of deep exhaustion. A famous quote comes to mind.
“I am sick and tired of being sick and tired!”
– Fannie Lou Hamer
Read quickly about the speaker behind these words and you see something stronger than anger. You see a woman who was beaten, written off and still did what she thought was right. You see a woman determined.
I think even deeper within the anger is a sense of brokenness. More than sadness. I feel broken by the fact that just as I am recovering emotionally from one blow another comes to shatter what little solace I have found.
I don’t want to head down the track not only because I don’t desire to become a stereotype but also because I don’t desire to become someone I’m not. I try to live my life as authentically as I can and anger is not me. It’s not my go to.
There is also a huge part of me that fears the stereotype. I identify as brown to acknowledge that I am not only black. I have a vast and beautiful heritage filled with African American and Native American history.
Do a quick google image search of “Angry Black Woman” and you will find you have options. You can have: old, funny, ape, big, attitude, michelle, glee, mad, reality tv or at work sub categories for your search. Google conveniently provides them in pretty rainbow colored buttons above the original search results.
I don’t want to be that. I don’t want to be a meme. I like most humans want to be respected when I express feelings.
You don’t have to look far to see Native American Nations being made fun of for expressing emotions. I can’t even start to dive into that here. Maybe in another post.
So I find myself on the track. I’m brown and don’t feel like changing that. The world likes to make fun of any nonwhite person who expresses emotions. And I feel angry based on exhaustion and brokenness. What do I do now?
Avoiding, sitting on the sidelines only keeps me out of the public eye. It doesn’t necessarily change all of the feelings going on inside. And unfortunately I don’t see the injustice changing or moving anytime soon.
Flash forward to now…
It’s hard for me to believe that it has been 6 months since I wrote the words above. I didn’t post them then because I was still wrestling with myself and with how to write this post.
I don’t think I’m on the track anymore. There aren’t multiple versions of me comically trying to kill each other. No handle bar mustaches. I’m off the track and on a path.
Yesterday I graduated from a leadership program. I have had many unsettled feelings about the program and on this day I had an interaction that upset me.
I felt crazy. I felt militant. I felt angry. I reached out for help. And with that help came a clear sense of direction.
Today, I listened to words of wisdom flow from my dear cousin to me. I think of my amazing writing partner who’s more than family. I think of the words of my grandmother reminding me of my heritage and the strength that lives there. Today I think of my mother always at my side, my continual support. And I think of my white husband, the proud feminist and gentle hand by my side and at my back holding me up when my legs quiver.
I come from strong women. My heritage is beautiful. Today was the first day that someone complimented me on this. It was a good reminder.
The United States Government has tried to kill my people and failed in the 1800’s, 1960’s and even today. Black and Native people resourcefully and skillfully continue to live.
That is my commitment. I am going to keep living. I am going to keep being myself. My loud, emotional, thoughtful, inquisitive, brash, angry, empathetic, silly self. I love me. It took months alone to remember this and I won’t back.
I won’t go back to quieting myself for others. I won’t go back to tip-toeing around issues of discrimination, racism, privilege, inequality, injustice and every other thing wrong with the world.
I will no longer poison myself by turning feelings of anger inward. If I’m labeled a stereotype so be it. I know who I am.
I am a beautiful brown girl ready to learn, listen, grow and have a great impact on the world. I hope you’ll join me.