It is no secret our social, political, and even environmental climate (see what I did there?) has been under severe division as of late. You can blame it on many happenings in the past months, to resurface long awaited conflicts of race, gender, and the rights of many that are “different” from your average American stereotype. Regardless of the reasons, this resisting and outcry of uncomfortable polarizing views and all the -isms, has been long due. Yet, out of all what may like seem a shit hole for many, multiple doors of unity have been opened. I will expand on this on another post, but for now, Dear White People.
Lately, and I mean a little more than 6 months lately, I have been “woke.”
Woke: a word from African American Vernacular English which refers to an awareness of issues concerning social justice and racial justice. The related phrase stay woke refers to a continuing awareness of these issues.
And strangely to my being, I have always considered myself a relatively progressive person on many issues, but never blind. Surely, as a Hispanic who grew up in a majority white community I was still able to see and understand the hardships of other minorities… right? Wrong. And as you have it, in my past what always seemed to me like a relatively docile school system erupted into a thread of falsehoods.
But let’s backtrack.How did I become aware of the constant and never ceasing struggle of the African American community? Yes, I had a vague understanding of the effects of slavery, but that was eons ago, it’s time to move on, right? Wrong. Because despite the evident enslavement of humans “eons ago,” a more metaphorical and looping modern enslavement presides over African Americans. An enslavement that endlessly strives to keep the community in a constant cycle of poverty, disarray, and violence. A society that paints African Americans as turbulent beings, full of rage, hate, and ignorance, is continuously spoon feed to our eyes, everywhere there’s a screen. So how did I see this? I began to open my mind, I began to see through the eyes of those closest to me and I saw this:
-A conflict ensues of some sort, one white person, one black. The white person can lose their marbles, because hey, they have the full on right to be angry. But the black person must remain as calm as possible because they’ll be painted as the typical angry black person
– Not wearing a dark hoodie at night because you never know, and DEFINITELY not with the hood on, God forbid
-Any off putting, unfair situation, which in the end doesn’t make sense and the answer to my why is “because I’m black”
Minor, but enough to trigger something in me. Why can’t a black person be angry, if they feel the emotion that every. single. human. feels? Why can’t they wear whatever shade of dark hoodie they want? Minor questions, but my curiosity led me to seek answers. So, I began to read and listen. I learned as much of the Civil Rights movement as I could, reading speeches and discussions by the brilliant Martin Luther King Jr. to watching Nina Simone’s ardent interviews and songs. The more I read and listened, the more I wanted to share my epiphany with people. The more I educated myself, the more I began to understand why slavery still matters. The problem isn’t that African American’s can’t “move on,” the problem is that our American history was so bloody and disastrous that we, as a nation, cannot bear to accept the atrocious events. We instead attempt to bury the many genocides and pain, and blame the sufferers for our mistakes? And simply paint it as, “it happened ages ago, get over it” (that doesn’t even make sense, talk about a serious cognitive dissonance). But sorry, people cannot get over it. Because the ripping of humans apart from their land to selling them like livestock, plopping them off in a foreign land, like cargo (let’s not forget the many “spoiled goods” lost on the way here), and expecting them to work endless insufferable hours, while simultaneously adapting to a completely different environment, is not something you “get over.”
Here’s a list of things you can get over:
- A shitty breakup
- Dropping toast with a perfect layer of butter on top
- Arguing with a friend over nonsense (it usually is)
- Not getting the job you wanted
- Losing $20
Furthermore, in the wider scheme of things and to end (or continue) this tragic PRESENT issue, slavery lead to an amass of an identity crisis. The generations to come after the first wave of incomers would relate to what or whom? Their long lost continent of Africa, of whom they have never and will never see? Or America, the land of the free, of which they were quite literally abusively forced to survive in? So no, getting “over it” is going to be just a tad bit hard.
We must own up to our history, we mustn’t mute those who need to be heard. Who else is to be accountable for our actions than ourselves?
My minor educational rampage has made me a bit angrier because it is frustrating to see others who are blindfolded as I was. And even though I could never fully comprehend what it is to be black in America, I can at least attempt to understand. The least I could do is educate myself.
A few months later, I began reviewing my experiences as a Hispanic woman. I began to pick up on microaggressions of which I had been so complacent and numb to before. And before anyone starts pointing fingers, these realizations do not make me more sensitive or incapable of hearing ignorant comments, they make me more aware, more fueled to want to change perspectives and points of views. They are encouraging.
Last year, Netflix rolled out with Dear White People (the movie) and was drowned with commentary and emails against the film and Netflix itself. How dare they show a blatantly aggressive show… that is true? Sorry not sorry but, the truth hurts.
To add salt to the wound, Netflix rolled out with a 10 episode series, an extension of the movie. Of which, if you are blinded, can seem offensive to Caucasians, but that discomfort you feel isn’t an exaggeration of African American propaganda, it is the reality. The show effortlessly portrays micro and macro aggressions, the evident identity crisis with some characters, who would rather conform to their white counterparts rather than accept their “ugly” dark selves. I mean, just how jacked up is that? But if the subtle hints go over your head, and if you stick around long enough, Chapter V is the climax.
I won’t ruin it for you because it is an extremely important scene, but when you view it, I recommend you really pay attention to facial expressions, actions, and ask yourself questions. For example, post-fight, why didn’t the police officer ask for the white males ID? Why did he immediately assume Reggie was aggravating the other person? Like I said, minor things, that lead to a more grand picture. Even though today segregation is no longer the obvious “separate but equal” slabbed on signs, the modernity of the new Jim Crow oppression does not have to be written down to be seen.
I recommend the show, highly, because apart from its message, the cinematography is beautiful (rule of 2/3rds to the max ❤️), the script is well written too, and who doesn’t enjoy some dark comedy with an essential message?
I welcome comments and opinions, it’s important to discuss to understand.