Revisiting a Decision

(around) August 25, 2013

I decided years ago that I would stop talking about race with people I didn’t fully connect with (and this is me trying to be PC about it because I know I’m angry right now). I got tired of the “but we’ve come so fars,” “I feel bads,” and pregnant silences surrounding how we can change the system of racism now. Hell, I got tired of hearing about “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” because there’s still a lot more in that knapsack that people don’t want to touch. I got tired of confronting the myth of meritocracy, an American culture that wants to be “colorblind” and, as a result, not fully come to terms with a simultaneously beautiful, poisonous, soul-stirring and spirit-crushing past.

I got tired.

So, I vowed to stop discussing it. I knew what I believed and experienced. I knew what my family, friends, and loved ones believed and experienced and that would have to be enough.

And then I came to Venezuela and it all came flooding back.

Let me just say this: I’ve had one too many “well-meaning” ignorant comments pushed my way in the last three weeks and not one came from a local. Honestly, these top the list that I’ve compiled. I don’t know. Since birth.

I do not know how to be polite when it comes to these conversations or “off-hand” comments. I either get quiet or say something so bluntly it causes a room to go silent (like what happened to me once in a graduate school class). I’ve been silent while here but I do feel some awkward conversations will have to be had. And soon. But, since I’m not speaking (for the moment) when I receive these enlightened comments, I will let this poem do the talking. It brought me back to the self-righteous anger of my college days. It brought me back to a visceral anger that I haven’t felt in a long time but, when properly channeled, can be such a powerful and positive force. I can’t believe I forgot about it:

This Bridge Called My Back

And maybe I need to make some copies for a few folks.


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