Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tell it, Barack.

In a recent session of a Media Theory class I'm taking for grad school, the inevitable subject of race and gender popped up. My class has (surprisingly...I'm used to being the only one) more than a few Black students but that day, I was the only one to show up. The question of whether things were getting better in this country was asked. The white students were tight- lipped. I got anxious, trying to form the right words in my head so as not to offend anybody.

Do I say what I really feel and become the angry black woman to a bunch of kids who up until know only knew me as the amiable girl who watched way too many eighties movies? Do I play it safe and give an optimistic, idealistic answer but then kick myself hours later on the train as I replay the answer in my head over and over again but still maintain my status as "safe" with the white students in my class?

Everyone was poised, looking at me to deliver the answer. I ultimately spoke my mind, I got funny looks, uncomfortable silence. And I felt strange afterwards. Not only did I out myself as someone who is very angry about the world I live in, but I also made my classmates think that all Black people think this way. Of course, all of this is in my head, I might never know what they really think of me, but the constant frustration and yes, (shock of all shocks) anger and stunted hope that comes with being a person of color in this country is very real. I am not too sensitive and no, I do not need to get over it. I am not living in the past, nor do I want to ever forget it. I would be lying if I said that much of what Jeremiah Wright didn't strike a chord in me, made me proud someone was speaking up. Just like I would be lying if I said that I didn't sometimes stereotype some white people without truly knowing them first. This speech honestly brought a few tears to my eyes. Empty, naive rhetoric? I think it's time to put that accusation to rest.

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