I really love my life. I really love being a black woman in the 21st century. I love living in the USA; and I love the joy I’ve had of experiencing other cultures through international travel. I love that I have lived long enough to be considered a senior citizen. And I love that technology allows me to be connected with people all over the world. I love the work I do and the time I spend volunteering. I love being physically fit enough to roller skate and to take Zumba classes. I love teaching and practicing spiritual principles that can be used to stay grounded in this chaotic and messy world we live in. I love who I am and the contribution I make in the world.
But I am weary of being coached by well-meaning white people who think they are open-minded and inclusive but actually have no experience being a racial minority or living or working closely with people of color. I am weary of their insistence that I don’t know what I’m talking about when I spot the negative influence of race or racism on situations around me. I am weary of their eagerness to use religion or spiritual beliefs to ignore the very real disrespect and oppression that is constantly on display throughout our culture. I am weary of their authoritative tone when they are giving their opinion and negating my own. I don’t mind they have their own opinion; I mind that they think their opinion must be correct simply because they function in a world where their opinion is often validated, so therefore they must know what they are talking about.
I am weary of being judged as militant or angry when I’m simply inviting people to live by their stated mission or sharing an observation of what is actually happening in my life or in the world. I am weary of being cautious so I don’t offend the white person who is too fragile to handle direct communication about real world challenges or anyone who has a different experience than their own. I am weary of being quiet when I want – or need – to speak up. And I am weary of white people who are so quick to say “Not all white people are like that” not realizing no one ever said all or that they are simply revealing their own defensiveness and reflecting their willful denial of their own complicity with the status quo. I am weary of being included based on the perception of my sameness and excluded or judged for that part of me that is deliciously different.
I am weary.
But I am also grateful.
Grateful for the people I know who are ready to have the difficult conversations. Grateful for the white people who are educating other white people about the pervasive nature of racism in the U.S. and the world. Grateful for my ability to know who I am and for my commitment to never, ever allow anyone to make me doubt the beauty of my blackness and the rich contributions black people have made for centuries.
I am grateful for all the people, from all racial and ethnic identity groups, who are asking themselves the question, “What is Mine to Do?” and then doing what they can to contribute to the end of race-based hatred and violence. And I am grateful that my life is, overall, a life I love.