By LaTanya Coleman-Carter
The world around me seems to be caving in. I am having stronger than normal emotional reactions to the racism that black people are experiencing. I know white people are needing instructions on what they should be doing. It appears that they are turning to their black friends for these instructions. I’d like to share a conversation I had with a white friend of mine.
I would like to give you a little background. I am a 40 year old black woman from Arkansas currently residing in California. My husband and I have a blended family of 7 children (4 boys and 3 girls). I am formerly a professor and teacher of mathematics and now a tutor. My friend is a 25 year old, single white female with no kids. She was born in South Africa and has lived in Texas and California. She runs marketing and media development for her mother's company. I have been a guest writer on her blog before and it was an amazing experience that was so helpful to my business and I truly hope that I will be asked again.
What I am sharing is the text conversation that we had because after the conversation I felt like the conversation was the article.
Her: Hi! Would you be interested in writing another blog post for our site on recent events in the news (George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, how the virus disproportionately affects African American communities, etc) from your perspective as a mom and woman of color? And how this has affected your mental health, how you have to help your kids, and maybe share some tips for white people on how they can help and what not to do? And share some tips on how other women and moms of color can manage their mental health and help their kids. I would also love it if you could highlight how structural racism is so insidious and how it’s maybe impacted your life. I know that’s a lot and feel free to say no! I just want to be able to use my mom’s platform To educate people and help however I can. I just don’t think people really hear from African American mom’s (especially moms of sons!) and the mental health aspect. And you have a lot to say on this!
Me: What’s the deadline?
Her: However long you need! The sooner the better since the topic is on everyone’s mind but I know it’s a heavy topic and a lot so how long do you think you need?
Me: I will start writing on it now. Not sure how long but I’m definitely interested. I was actually talking to Alexy about all of this the other day. So I have things to say.
Her: Perfect! Take as long as you need. I would also love to get your opinion on how the phrase “we need to be colorblind” can actually be dangerous (if that’s your opinion).
THE NEXT MORNING
Me: GM. After thinking about it I can not write the post. Initially, I didn’t think twice about it mostly because it was you. I love you and your entire family. You guys are special to me in ways words can not express.
However, I’m exhausted. These recent events have really angered me. I’m pissed. And for that reason I don’t think I can give you anything other than anger. I thought…”Tanya, you can do this, this is the moment you have been preparing for, you’re a strong educated black woman. This is why you spent years going through major schooling and receiving multiple degrees”. I thought she is right to ask this of me, it makes sense. So I decided what I would write and all I really needed was some time. Time to calm down. Time to collect my thoughts so that they would come across as educated and well put together. So the time would be tomorrow, I’ll start writing tomorrow maybe I will be less angry.
But I’m still angry. And I don’t think I want to be less angry. I want white people to be able to simply see a human being killed and be angry with me. I want to not have to explain why I’m angry in an articulate blog post. I don’t want to edit my anger, thoughts, emotions, feelings against a white standard English vernacular. I don’t want to come up with words that make anyone reading feel comfortable. I want to go to MN and riot. I want them to feel the rage and offer to buy my plane ticket so I can go. I am pissed! I watched that video and I will never unsee a man taking his last breath while the white man has his knee in his neck of a man that looks like my son, my husband, my brother, and my dad. I’m pissed. I’m tired of educating white people on how to be fucking human. I’m pissed. The same week Amy Cooper called the police while in a New York park, hoping the result would be what happened to George Floyd. White people are using 911 to murder black people and I am more afraid of that than I am the COVID-19.
As a black woman no matter what I say in an articulate blog post I will be an angry black woman. And the truth is that’s exactly what I am and anyone that has a problem with it can suck on my balls because being black is one of my favorite things about myself. I want everyone to see my blackness and to write a post that makes me sound less black would be the antithesis to the work I’m doing with myself. Unschooling all the white supremacy indoctrination of attending public schools and living in a colonized society. I want to represent my community as black woman who is unapologetically black and will fight for what’s right for the sake of my children and all the children of the black community.
I’m sorry if this is not what you wanted to hear. I’m NOT SORRY that this is what I feel. I love that you asked me and I hope that in the future you will contact me for other opportunities.
I know this is long but I feel like I know you in a way that wouldn’t let me simply say no without letting you into my space to see what happened from the time I said yes to you and now.
Her: Omg wow! Please don’t apologize! Everything you said is so valid and thank you for sharing it with me. I’ll never understand your experience and pain but please do let me know how I can help use my position and my moms platform to help however we can. You don’t owe me anything and thank you for even wanting to do this because you care for me and my family. I am so sorry for your anger and pain. I know nothing I say will take away the anger and frustration you so rightly deserve to feel. I want to help and not just be a white girl posting on social media about the injustice but not actually doing anything. Even if that something is being a person to vent to I’m here for it!
Me: Thank you for that.
Life is really hard right now. My truth is a hard pill to swallow. Yesterday, Genesis went to a picnic in the park with friends before I left her. I gave her instructions for survival. She didn’t want to wear her mask because it was hot. I told her I thought that was fine because she is outside but that she needed to take it with her. I told her if a cop came and told her to put it, please just say yes sir or ma’am and put it on. I don’t want to lose my child today. These are the conversations I have with my children that white people just don’t have to have. They need to know that is what I mean I say “white privilege”. The freedom to walk into a store with face covering because it is mandatory and know they are free from judgment. The freedom to never have survival conversations because of the color of your skin.
I realize you were trying to help and got an ear full. It’s a lot I’m sure. I saw this on my friends Facebook so I thought I’d sure with you since it seems to be along the line of what you’re looking for: https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234
Her: No thank you for sharing all this! It only helps me to understand a little more (although I will never truly understand). Again I am so sorry for the experiences you have been through and have to go through especially with your children. And thank you for sharing this link- looking at it now!
There are many stories being told right now. We need to hear all the stories and how it's affecting individuals. This is my story.