"The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel and in exchange, put on a mask. There can't be any large scale revolution, on an individual level. It's got to happen inside first." -Jim Morrison
I post this not to ignite any hate but as an inward reflection and an outward demonstration of racism in my own community. I post this in the hope it can help others look at themselves and their communities.
We all woke up to a new world Nov 9, 2016. (Except that “we” all didn’t. Many have been awake in this place for a very long time.)
The photo above was taken on a trip to Jamaica. Marvin, pictured, was in charge of the boats. He was hilarious and fun. (We were having a contest to see who could look more intimidating. Clearly I won.) I came back and posted a lot of photos of the trip not even giving it a second thought.
And then I went out with friends in my town and the comments…
“Saw your pictures. Looked fun! You haven’t been with a black guy have you?”
WTF? Did he just say that? My mind is racing. What do you tackle first the sexism or the racism?
Why just because you saw a photo of me with any man does that mean I slept with them?
If I did what business is it of yours?
If he is black why does that make any difference? (and it wasn’t just the annoying classic joke of bigger assets. There was something else much deeper.)
It feels so confronting in the moment. I freeze for a second and then I tell him exactly what I think and kindly but firmly call it out….
Just joking. I stay silent and he’s gone. Too late. Then I justify it. Well I guess he was just kidding right? He’s overall a nice person. I’m sure he didn’t mean that as horrible as it sounded, and I move on.
Sadly that wasn’t the only comment like that from the photos, and sadly there have been many other times things were subtly or blatantly said about different issues, and sadly my mind wasn’t prepared enough to know what to say in the moment. I hear stories in my own community of requests from parents to move their children out of classrooms or schools with too many brown children, I hear stories of children getting treated differently because of the color of their skin from teachers. (I would invite you to share your personal stories in hope of self reflection and education).
I recently saw a girl of color on Pantsuit Nation (cause I’m all over that shit and currently wearing my safety pin) post a beautiful message regarding her experience as a black woman in America. She said in her message that she can’t hold our hands. Her message was very loving and meant we have to look inward at ourselves. She can’t do it for us. She is absolutely correct. I thought about that though and.....
Please hold my hand, reach out, hold it, and don’t let go.
I don’t want you to make it better for me or take away any "guilt". I want to understand so I can do better. The self reflection is my own but I could use your hand.
I feel very lucky to have a close black (I hate using this defining term, anyway) friend who holds my hand. He offers enlightenment on these issues while I like to think I offer entertainment, so it’s a win win really.
“Ahhhha!” I’ll message him. “I think I understand something ….. ” I go on.
Feeling quiet proud of myself, that maybe, I learned something. I hit send.
Waiting. Waiting. Uh oh he’s going to laugh at me.
Then… yep laughter.
Damn it! I missed it.
“You’re warmer Kat. Read your history. “
Arghhh… Think Katrina. Think. Read. Ahhhaa. I think I see it. I type.
“Am I warmer?”
He laughs again, “A little. We’ll talk.”
Keep trying. Keep talking. Keep laughing. Keep reaching out to hold someone’s hand that wants to hold it and ….
PRACTICE. PRACTICE paying attention to racism and sexism in yourself and in your community. (It’s hard for me right now to tackle these as separate, yet unifying at times, issues) PRACTICE breathing, smiling, listening, and then speaking up. (quickly because that moment will pass you by.)
With love xx