If Ridge St Could Talk VI: My 7 Day Strike From White Folk

Every once and a while you have you have one of those days that tries you, one of those days where you think no amount of Bible verses, hallelujah’s, cute puppy’s, and baby yawns will calm you down. For me, Friday was just that. I felt like I was Job and Black Jesus was sitting in heaven, in his pre -jesus from sending down the plague. (sorry for all the Biblical references, I don’t mean to offend. I was raised in a Southern Baptist house so when I get upset I fall back on the Jesus talk. I’ll stop now in the interest of maintaining readership.) Anyway, Friday felt like it was an all out assault on my person. It started with my morning train ride, which is usually a mixed crowd but this morning the train was populated by white 20somethings. The only people of color were myself and two other teenaged Black boys on the other side of the train. They were sagging and had big hoodies, you know the stuff of nightmares for people who’s only encounters with Black folk have been through episodes of cops and the Wire. Needless to say, their presence on the train was stirring up some partial fear and over all feelings of uncomfortableness in the 20 somethings. There were nothing but stares and frowns (even some whispering) about the elephants in the room. Meanwhile, I guess I didn’t warrant any attention because I am not usually sagging and had on a polo shirt for work. When the two young Black men exited the train one guy smile and said another comment to his friend that I couldn’t hear over the Nas CD I decided to turn up so that the uncomfortable atmosphere could be enhanced. At work I had the pleasure of being condescended to by an old white womyn that decided she wanted to ignore the help I was giving her to talk on the phone in the middle of my sentence. She stopped her phone convo when one of my supervisors (who is white) came to the desk. I guess I couldn’t help her. The night ended with me listening to some Marxist friends of mine talk about the history of the Russian revolution. Normally I wouldn’t care and be fully engaged in the conversation, however, this night I became increasingly annoyed that European countries had a monopoly on the conversation about struggle as if, once again, the rest of the world had nothing to contribute. Sometimes, in the political circles I run in I feel as though there is a subconscious reproduction of the white supremacist education I endured for 12 years from elementary to high school. I say this in reference to the fact that all conversations usually begin and end with European struggle. I texted my friend, a Black organizer in Oakland, stating that I was going on a 7 day strike from white folk. Of course this was a joke, but it was a statement out of extreme frustration. I assume this happens with most people who are “othered” by society in one way or another and have to daily enter a larger society that doesn’t reflect or accept them as humans. Usually I brush off the fact that Black youth are mocked and gawked at in public, or that my intelligence is ignored or undermined at work but the tension sometimes builds and explodes. I try to quell it with thoughts about how people are products of socialization and that their attitudes are systematic problems that must be fought in the coming revolutionary struggle, and some days that line of thought isn’t enough. I don’t know where I’m going with this rant other than releasing it into the universe in hopes that I am renewed before the coming work week.

One thought on “If Ridge St Could Talk VI: My 7 Day Strike From White Folk

  1. A couple of weeks ago I was at the beach with a friend of mine. It was really crowded so we had to kinda squish in between groups of people to find our own place on the sand. Her and I were minding our business just enjoying the sun. Just next to us were a group of white girls who were listening to mainstream hip hop and tanning themselves. At one point my ears sharpened as I concentrated on what they were talking about. They were making racist, classist jokes directed at the black community…they were laughing, not at all ashamed of what they were saying. I was on the verge of interrupting all this when they stopped and started talking about something else. Later on one of the girls who was making the jokes stood up and saw me. We starred at each other for a couple of seconds and then looked away. I wonder if she had know I was there the whole time?

    Just last week I ended up at an all white restaurant. A friend and I were sitting and eating next to this white family with two little girls (both probably around 7). Vaguely I heard one of the little girls say that she was going to do” the rap show”, then the two girls put on glasses and hoodies and jumped around pretending to be rappers. The white family thought it was hilarious, they were just laughing and cheering the two little girls on. I took that as my queue to leave. Fuck that shit.

    Back in the day I used to cuss people out for saying racist shit. I did not know how to defend myself in an intellectual way so I just expressed myself however I could because I knew they were wrong. Sadly, many of the people I have known in the past to harbor negative feelings about black people were working class latinos, oppressed themselves. Now that I know more of my history and and about race in general, I am at a loss for words. Its all so…ignorant. What the fuck do they know about the black community? Do they realize that race is a sociological construct and that we are all from Africa? I feel like there are so many things that I want to say and yet I am at a loss for words…

    Frustration and anger lock me in silence sometimes. My mind races as my lips can’t seem to move. It hurts the most when it comes from family members though. Latino family members that harbor racist feelings about blacks while sitting cozy with white neighbors.

    I just try to remind myself that people are kept ignorant for a reason. They are taught racism and it seeps into their pores as they attempt to formulate opinions about the world. They speak without knowing, act without thinking. They generalize, sensationalize, they sound so stupid… I pity them…

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