Why put race into the picture?
Haha this may pose as some clarification for the less-informed “so to say?”…
I have a direct question miss “ABW” and I’m not trying to “butt heads” with you, but why do you need to specify that you’re an “angry black woman”? I mean, I myself am an “angry guy”, but I don’t really feel the need to add race into it. So my question is, why is there a need to put race into the picture?
I promised him a reply, but it’s been a while. Still, I agree that it could help to clarify things for the uninformed.
Why I Put Race Into the Picture
The most obvious reason is that it’s hard for me to ‘escape’ my race, as it were. It’s obvious to most people in the world that I am a black person or, at least, not a white person. (I’ve been mistaken for Dominican, generic ‘Hispanic’, Native American, and ‘foreign’ before.) It’s not like I can hide. So, in most instances, I don’t need to put race into anything. It’s there.
However, this is the Internet. If I chose to, I could pretend to be not black. Or, I could choose not to mention my race at all. At which point people would assume whiteness because, as we all know, White is the Default. (ahem) What would the point be in doing such a thing? Well, for some people, knowing that the person they’re interacting with is the ‘other’ makes them defensive. They get nervous that they’ll say the wrong thing, or they see a criticism and automatically assume that they are being personally criticized. Plus, there are lots of assumptions people put on black people. Just knowing my race, some might be inclined to take a guess at my level of education, background, and current financial situation. If I didn’t specify my race, folks might not come here with all these assumptions and associations.
Some might think this is a good thing. I don’t.
I’m sure there are bloggers on the net who don’t identify their race, maybe not even their gender. I have no problem with that choice. But for me to not identify myself as black and as a woman just to make white folks feel ‘safe’ listening to my views would be dishonest and cowardly. I’m not afraid of people’s assumptions. And I’m obviously not afraid of their bad opinions and nasty words. I’m more afraid of my voice not being heard because I refuse to use it.
Another reason to bring race into the picture is to provide context for my anger. I’m not angry in general (well, not all the time…). I’m angry because of racism, sexism, homophobia, ignorance, and other crap in the world directed not only at other people but at myself. The question seems to imply that race is a non-issue. Obviously, I disagree. If you don’t know that I’m black, then you might not understand the depth of my anger when I rant about racism against other black people.
Of course non-black people can be angry about racism. But most people are not vastly empathetic. They can only understand, grok, or ‘get’ things that occur within their own personal headspace. For most white people, racism is what happens to people who are not them or their family or anyone truly close to them. Racism may still make them angry, but does it hurt?
Whenever I hear about shit like the beating of Billy Ray Johnson, my heart hurts. That man could have been my brother, my uncle, my cousin, my father. When I hear about stuff like this I know that it’s only due to coincidence, to luck, to the grace of higher powers that it didn’t happen to someone I know and love. Can a white person say the same?
Ultimately, though, I bring race into the picture because I’m proud to be what I am. Why wouldn’t I let the whole Internet know that I’m black? What real reason would I have to dissemble, to lie by omission? Being black is one part of the tapestry that makes up who I am. For the most part, I like who I am.
That is why I am not just The Angry Woman or even just The Angry Person. I’m Black, I’m Female, and I’m Pissed Off. There’s nothing more to it.
Hope this clears things up.