And Apparently, We’ve Perfected the Practice
Disclaimer: This article explores the experience of internalized racial oppression, it is not a claim that white people can, in any way, be the victims of racism. There is no such thing as reverse racism. Racism, and other systems of oppression, do not operate in reverse.
From as early as I can remember, the Bible to my Black womanhood consisted of two Psalms, the first read that racism accounted for Black people’s most pressing problem; and the second said that black people were systematically, institutionally, and physically excluded from its practice. And these Psalms were galvanized as gospel. I liken the indoctrination we underwent in the aisles of Black identity to taking an oath, albeit under duress. Part of being in the Black community meant adhering to the creed and the creed said the fight was against white because white had all the power. No questions asked. Every other experience, no matter how similar it seemed, was seen as secondary to white supremacy, a conspired distraction from the real dilemma facing black bodies.
However, my lived experiences did little to lay a groundwork of evidence in support of this argument, quite the contrary. In my neighborhood, in my church, and in my grandmother’s kitchen is where I first learned that the blacker the body, the rougher the reality. In Black academic spaces is where I learned the inherent likeability of lighter skin. Among other Black children is where I learned which features and physical characteristics were the outcomes of “bad genes”. In Black churches is where I learned that suffering, servitude, and pain were my portion in this lifetime. And in the middle of my Black community, I learned to cover and criticize the Black female body I carried with me. I learned all of this without so much as a white body on the block. How could that be?
Words Mean Things
Academia introduced me to race, racism, and white supremacy in a more, shall I say worldly way. The concept of race was surprisingly bigger than Black and White, as my small-town Pittsburgh upbringing had painted it, it was a socially constructed categorization of humankind divided into distinct groupings based on physical traits, ancestry, and social identity. And racism was equally…