It occurs so often. Being subjected to the humiliating words and arguments in which you, a black woman, are reduced to an object, and even more so, an object that needs to be educated about her own experiences. An object that deserves no better treatment than getting mansplained, than getting told your own name multiple times in order to make you feel even more worthless.
“Ok, Ramona, but I have always treated women fine so I feel like you don’t understand the whole concept, Ramona, but I will explain it to you Ramona.”
“But Ramona, it must be clear you misunderstood what feminism is really about Ramona.”
“I am not a bad man Ramona, please don’t state that what I did is sexist because you, Ramona, just don’t get it. “
I do know my own name. Instead of the condescending usage of words such as ‘honey’ or ‘girl’, you use my own name against me to make sure that I will not forget the power relation between us. You use me against me.
When black activist come together and discuss the issue of racism without any form of intersectional praxis, it always happens. And for reasons unknown to me, I am still amazed. It dehumanizes me every single time, it feels like the first time every single time; everything that is going on is the fault of the black woman. The black man stating that black women are responsible for the suffering of black men, how black women deny black men to be truly emancipated and how the success of black emancipation now rests on the shoulders of black women who should settle for less, shut the fuck up and let the black man thrive.
Actually, these responses are more than I get most of the time. Mostly, I just get ignored, even when I am speaking on the way racism impacts women. What could a black woman possibly have to add in a conversation about racism geared toward women? Apparently, nothing. The silent treatment. When I am working my ass off in discussions in order to make my point come across clearly, I am just not listened to. A man needs to step in, reproduce my ideas and thoughts, in order for them to be taken seriously. The sharp pain in my stomach, the feeling of complete desperation and loneliness that overwhelms me when I realize that yet again my thoughts, my beliefs, my ideas, my hopes, my views and my theories are just worthless in a space that is essentially about my experiences. For some, perhaps many, I am not even worth a response.
And when I sit at home, crying, internalized -isms surface and this shit is beating me up. It is telling me I should not be so emotional, I should just not be whiny about it, I should not be bothered by it as long as I fight for the cause. That I should perhaps let it all just go because it will benefit the struggle against racism if I just remain silent from now on. That I should only have an accommodating role, merely serve the black man so that racism can be fought. That because people ‘mean well’ I should just support them publicly. That because they have been friendly to me, even it was just once, I should try to let this one slide. The pain brainwashes me every time, makes me question my politics, makes me think that even thinking about this is wrong because I should focus on fighting racism. I should not be bothered with the sexism targeted at me.
But I am bothered, I am emotional, I am in pain. I am a human being who keeps getting denied whatever comes with that concept of a human being. I am not only black, I am also a woman. I have a range of identities that I proudly claim including my own fucking name.