“A guy, who once called me ‘exotic’ as a ‘compliment’, told me that he didn’t ‘have time’ to engage in discussion about race and gender, that he actively chose to stay clear of such conversations because ‘you always end up stepping on someone’s toes’ and frankly why would I, ‘it just doesn’t affect me.’
“And yet this didn’t stop him seeing me as a spokesperson for all PoC’s and someone he could debate with.
“He would send articles that expressed ‘anti-white’ sentiment and this was his prime example of deeply concerning racial injustices that we face today. When I tried to separate the personal from the social and global systemic racism and explain how privilege works he labelled me as ‘haughty’ and ‘self-righteous’. When I spoke of my experience he began to talk over me and pull anecdotes of where he’d been followed home by ‘a big group of threatening black guys’ and he couldn’t see how problematic his actions and statement were. Of course he couldn’t. He hadn’t engaged in the conversations in fear of stepping on toes and because of this decision he stamped on my entire fucking foot.
“You see, if you had ever bothered to educate yourself you would realise how offensive calling me ‘exotic’ was. If you had bothered to educate yourself you wouldn’t be coming to me with your bogus justifications for why reverse-racism ‘is a thing’, and if you had you wouldn’t have been surprised when I walked out of the room rather then pat you on the back.
“As a woman of colour I don’t get a choice as to whether ‘I have time’ to engage in the conversation on race and gender issues. Its my life; and I don’t have to defend that to anybody. My experiences are not up for debate and are not here to be used as case-studies for you to dissect and scrutinise in order to justify your opinions on race.
“I am tired of having to be the ‘spokesperson’ on race. As if the pigmentation of my skin automatically volunteers me to enter debates about various incongruities with topical race affairs.
“For you, its just Monday morning’s news story. For PoC’s its one more link on a never ending chain.
“I’m tired of your flippancy with our experiences, turning them into jokes and banter. As if the reality is somehow different now, its changed; racism and sexism no longer exist so we can all just laugh about it!
“Oh and if it sounds like I’m angry, thats because I am. I, as a human being, am angry that in 2016 people still just don’t get it. They can’t see beyond their own lives to realise that this relentless devaluing of people of colour, of women, is not okay. Your jokes and putdowns might be funny to you but your privilege places you at a distance where the ‘banter’ isn’t at the expense of the colour of your skin or your gender. What you are doing is laughing at me and not with me. And that really pisses me off. You have no idea of what my experience might be, and you don’t care. You would rather pluck a few buzzwords from the air and fling them about and call it an ‘intellectual debate’ rather than admit that you are ignorant because you haven’t bothered engaging. You haven’t bothered because it ‘doesn’t affect you’, but I beg to differ.
“You too are part of this world and your privilege has an underbelly named oppression.
“Indifference, staying silent and being passive is an action because you are allowing injustices to continue. You are choosing to be apathetic. And your privilege is what affords you such a choice. But silence is violence.
“You are not entitled to your uneducated opinion – if you choose to challenge me make sure you are well-informed. If you’d rather remain ignorant and reside in your bubble of privilege – then fine, but please do the world a favour and take several seats.”
Photo credit: Harriet Evans and Oxford Skin Deep
Photo editing: Harriet Evans