Racism reminders

01/19/2017

For many folks who hold historically marginalized identities, particularly those of us who feel the effects of racism and microaggressions acutely in our bodies, I’d like to share two truths for determining how to think about those who perpetuate bad behavior:

  1. They are mistaken.
  2. It’s not about you.

Half the battle is deciding if we’re justified in interpreting the things we’re experiencing as racism. What do we do about it if it is? Do we challenge them to a joust? Does the slight warrant a diss track? Might this person require an aggressive laying of hands? Don’t they know we’re from Duval County?

The not knowing and resulting paranoia can push us towards the limits of our sanity. When we replay these incidents in our mind ad infinitum, it causes stress hormone levels to rise, amplifying the effects of these perceived indignities, and harming our bodies.

Then we beat ourselves up for not speaking up or taking action. Then we begin overreacting preemptively so no one makes us feel that way again. Then we begin embodying stereotypes and slip into a tailspin of frustration and self-loathing, directed at no one and everyone at the same time.

It’s a losing proposition that must be short-circuited at its outset. Cultivating resilience frees us to get on with the important work needed in our lives, and in our communities. It’s also a much more compassionate way to treat our bodies.

When possible, let it all go.

I’m not saying we’re to accept what’s unacceptable and make excuses for bad behavior. What I’m saying is that we don’t have to internalize the feelings that arise from these interactions and give them top billing in our minds and hearts.

  1. They are mistaken.
  2. It’s not about you.

Bonus: you poppin.