Saturday, August 26, 2006


Yesterday I was at a party with several other people in my program, and I got to have a very interesting conversation with another student. We were talking about various topics everything from HGTV to hurricane Katrina, and then we began to talk about the environments that we had grown up in. She's white and was talking about how when she grew up she knew only one black person. What impressed me the most was how she spoke of traveling abroad to Ghana, and how excited she was because one of her travel companions allowed her to ask her whatever question she wanted to about Black people. She was like she was nervous because she didn't want to be seen as racist but she had some questions that she really wanted to know. I don't know but this really hit me. I have been in so many situations where I get so upset with white people when they ask me dumb questions about being black. I never get questions like, how do you feel being in a predominantly white environment? I don't get questions about my experience as a black woman in America (very few people know I'm a lesbian so I don't get those questions), I get asked about what do all black people feel? Do I get sun burnt? Personally this pisses me off; I get so tired of having to educate white people about my race. However, talking to her made me slightly reconsider my position on things. As frustrating as it is for me to have to answer these questions I also get tired of having to deal with white people who just don't know certain things about Black people. Am I being unfair? Are they?
Where is the balance? I understand that no one gains knowledge without investigating and asking questions, but that doesn't stop me from getting aggravated. I live a life where so frequently I feel like an animal in the Zoo, so when a White person comes to me and asks me to teach them all about my people I feel further isolated in this society. They make me feel like an alien from another planet. So NO! I don't want to tell you all about my hair and my skin and no I don't want you to touch my locs and ask "How do you get your hair to do that?" I just want to be treated like a human. While I want all of this I also want people to know more about my people, but is it my job to educate them? I understand that many of the questions come out of pure curiosity, but when is enough, enough? Where is the place where the White person won't feel afraid to learn more about people of color and we people of color won't feel like they're the subject of a scientific study?

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“I remember how being young and black and gay and lonely felt. A lot of it was fine, feeling I had the truth and the light and the key, but a lot of it was purely hell.” ~Audre Lorde