White allies and friends say they wish they could understand. I wish they could too. I wish they could understand what it feels like to be at the intersection of race and gender. At times it feels like I am the “collision” at the intersection.
Being the collision signifies the reality that there is something harsh and sharp about being called a Black Woman by society. There are jagged pieces of past woundings and suppositions that hang in the balance between my “me-ness” and your “you-ness.”
My “me-ness” is overt and “other” and somehow it’s not quite okay to be in my skin, in this time, in this world. When well-meaning people tell me they are colorblind, I used to remain silent. Now I tell these earnest people filled with good intentions that being colorblind negates who I am. I am a woman and I am Black. I am Black and I am a woman. Only people with privilege get to choose to be either their race or their gender. I watch their faces fall. They tried.
When you tell me I shouldn’t worry about what others think of me, I hear the ancestors whispering. Watch. Listen. Be careful. We are trained to be acutely aware of every nuance of every encounter. All day. Every day. Being aware keeps you safe. It keeps you from being caught off guard in a world that doesn’t quite know what to do with you. It keeps you exhausted. I often wonder, what must it feel like to experience that level of freedom? To not know that your very existence is seen as a problem, a cause, an issue that must be addressed?
When a Black Woman’s passion is misinterpreted as anger and her self-protection is seen as sullenness - it can be overwhelming. Just get along. Just play nice. Just get over it. You can’t understand. Historical trauma hums through my veins, it has altered my DNA. It has forever scorched the earth beneath my feet. I am a BLACK WOMAN - not just a woman who happens to be Black.