March 14, 2009

Still Black, still real

I know it's been a while.

I've honestly been swamped with work and resolving personal and business issues.

I'm still Black, though. Still real.

But I think I can handle it a little better for the time being.

March 4, 2009

Being Black, being real

I'm about to get real for a moment. So if seeing a Black woman express herself with passion and conviction rubs you the wrong way, I suggest you return to the delusional world you live in where people of color aren't supposed to feel anything about the way White people treat them. Not like you're a stranger there, anyway.

This post brings up a lot about what frustrates me about talking about Black identity and racism with well-meaning White people - that racism is about hate. It isn't. Racism is about power. I can deal with a bigot. I can't deal with an environment that undermines my humanity at every turn.

Even the way you frame this post kind of makes me squirm because it smacks of this attitude that "progressive" White people have that subtly - and not-so-subtly - places the onus of eradicating racism upon the shoulders of those oppressed by it. Whether White people choose to acknowledge it or not, they often place this sort of pressure on people of color to do all the heavy lifting. We have to educate you on the realities we live with everyday. We have to do so in a way that caters to your tastes, appeals to your sense of noblesse oblige, soothes or eradicates any guilt you may feel as a result, and still defer to you as the ultimate arbiter of all that is true and beautiful and good. We're supposed to display endless patience with your attempts to cling to your innocence, endless willingness to educate you even when you show yourselves to be willfully ignorant, endless gratitude that one so glorious as you would stoop so low as to want to treat with us as equally, and endless selflessness to transcend our own pain - to treat it as not real - to make it easier for you to unlearn how to oppress us. Apparently, we're not supposed to express the pain, or fear, or despair, or anger at how we are treated every moment of our waking lives outside the safe zones we carve out for ourselves.

All the while you still don't know the privilege you have to treat racism as an abstract concept, not a reality that people wrestle with every time they interact with you and the people who look like you. You have no idea what it's like to keep your armor on all the time lest those nearest and dearest to you - those who profess deep and abiding friendship that feels closer to family - may say or do something that cuts you to the quick because it says, even if in a whisper, that your thoughts, your feelings, your dreams, your ideas, your very existence, is at best less than theirs and at worst nothing at all. You have no idea how hard it is to trust you with anything important - that is, anything regarding your deepest self - because you don't know if you will treat it with the care and respect it deserves or if you will use it like a toy or disregard it altogether. You have no idea how it feels to have to smother your spirit - or what is left of it - to make yourself less threatening to those around you. You have no idea what it feels like to be exceptional and treated as mediocre. You have no idea how it feels to need to get angry to stave off despair, how it feels to have to bottle up all the hurt at seeing the injustices that the world tosses at you everyday because that hurts less than people telling you how to feel about it and respond to it.

Point of fact is: I'm tired. I'm tired of being expected to be exponentially more capable and virtuous than you simply to be viewed as average. I'm tired of having to be as non-violent as Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi (combined), as serene as Buddha, as forgiving as Jesus, as patient as Job, as compassionate as Mother Theresa and as wise as Solomon just to be seen as a typical human being.

And most of all: I'm tired of you treating me as though I exist for you and not for me.

March 2, 2009

Fairy tale gumbo

It just came to my attention that there is a real-world equivalent for the world I'm creating with my play: the Louisiana bayou. I have to admit that I do associate that environment with a certain magic. And there's the gumbo of influences to consider too: Voodoo, Yoruba, European fairy tales, and Japanese theater. If I think about it, it's pretty Creole. Even the environments I envision have a sort of swampyness to it. Tangled roots, overhanging branches, rich black earth, owls, outlines of strange creatures (a dog? a wolf?), shadows slinking through the water (an alligator? a water monster?), weird lights, and so on.