Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wearing My Anger Like Armor

My friend Phyllis called just as I was coming into my home this evening.

"Hi Phyllis." (I love caller ID)

"Sheria, when did you start writing for Newsweek?"


Phyllis and I have known each other for 20 years, and she enjoys confusing me. She proceeded to read excerpts from an essay in Newsweek entitled "Play the Race Card," that wasn't written by me but by a black female author by the name of Raina Kelley.

I wish that I had written the article because then I would have been published in Newsweek. Phyllis, who happens to be white, is a really close friend and I shared with her that one of my regular readers characterized me as an angry black woman. He didn't offer it as a criticism, merely an observation. Phyllis and I decided that he was wrong, because I'm Mother Teresa compared to a truly angry black woman.

However, I may have to backtrack on that. I have a subscription to Newsweek, thanks to Phyllis and her husband Steve who have been renewing my subscription every Christmas for about 20 years. Naturally, when I got off the phone with Phyllis, I read the article that she called me about and totally concurred that it was well written and thought provoking. I decided to find the article online and link to it on my Facebook page.

I put in the author's name and the title of the article as search terms and came across a link with the title, "Nigger Raina Kelley Says Play Da Race Card." Needless to say, I was a bit intrigued, so I followed the link and landed at a Word Press blog entitled The Black Plague with the subtitle, "Not a white supremacist, but a white realist." It is not about the bubonic plague.

I read about a dozen entries, all of which featured the word "nigger" in the title. A lot of the commenters used similar language. His or her blogroll includes blogs of similar merit. The author uses the pen name, nigga mortis. Clever.

When I was younger and more innocent, I would have been hurt and wounded by such hatefulness, but although I felt some hurt, my primary emotion was anger. If I were able to confront the author of this piece of trash, I think that I could do a credible impression of an angry black woman and open up a can of whup ass on this ignorant, lowlife excuse for a human being.

As I was contemplating going up beside his or her head, it dawned on me that I should embrace my status as an angry black woman. My righteous anger is my armor. It makes me sharp and protects my soul from the destructive forces of ignorance and racism. You see, I have this notion that I should be able to live my life without repeatedly encountering hateful, racist nonsense.

People who really know me, understand that I never direct that anger at anyone who doesn't deserve it. I don't have a generalized anger towards all white people. My friends know and understand this.

Black people have never been the dealers. we don't play the race card; we play the hand we were dealt. I know that this bothers some of you and that you can't accept it. You want the world to be all Kumbayaish and you desperately want to believe that we have all overcome the nasty little evil of racism. It ain't so; it just ain't so.

Sometimes, I forget that, especially when I'm communicating with my friends who are a very diverse group people. They don't buy into any of this racist nonsense, but invariably, something will pull me up short and I have to look the reality of racism right in the eyes. That's when I need my anger; it keeps me safe and strong.

A few days ago I wrote about feeling weary and hopeless about the racism that continues to work its way into the fabric of American culture. I have my moments of weakness. Dealing with this crap on a regular basis takes a lot out of you. But I only wallow in despair momentarily, I always get back up and continue forward because I am an angry black woman and I will not be broken.


warrior scout said...

hmmm.. well, i will respect your decision to see yourself however you choose. but i would offer this...whatever anger you have, it doesn't translate at the first and last stop on your emotional circuit.
rather, i would say that thoughtfulness and consideration are more visible to those of us outside your skin. just a note.

with regard to the racism in this country, i would also offer my paltry perception here. i think that we (america) are witnessing great social change in our nation. we elected an official far outside the norm to lead that change. the looneys and extremists and crazies that have always been there are now coming out of the woodwork because they are in fear of their safety. they are landing of fox and radio and any media arm that will have them because they are a bit like anomolies at a state fair. we don't see them much. they usually stay hidden and live their lives and do their work behind the walls and floorboards and in the dark.
but they have been there for a long time. they are not weaving themselves into the fabric of our lives because they have been there. they are becoming unwoven. their stiching is beoming loose and threadbare.

fact? or fiction? i'm not sure. but that's how i'd prefer to see it.

thanks for giving me space for a diatribe today..

Indigo said...

Racism is very much alive and thriving. Sigh. I commented to Beth before I believe, where were all these angry protesters when Bush was running our country down into the ground. That in itself should tell you something.

When I walk into a restaurant with my working dog and I'm immediately escorted to an empty room in the back away from the other customers...I know racism is alive.
It's happened more than once.

By law they can't tell me I can't eat there. So they put me in a separate room and try to hide me away. No longer. I won't allow it, I have just as much right to eat among the other diners as anyone else. If anything my working dog behaves far better than most kids.

It felt like segregation to me.

You and every other black person has a right to be angry. We're supposed to be beyond this hatred by now. It makes me angry.

Stand strong and never stop believing someday this will hopefully be a thing in the past. (Hugs)Indigo

Ms. Moon said...

You have every right to be an angry black woman. And I have every right to be an angry white woman who refuses to listen to racial slurs without speaking up ANYMORE. Any racial or homophobic talk demeans ALL of us, not just the group it is aimed at. And I will point that out whenever I hear it.
I'm too old not to.
Thank-you for writing this, Sheria.
Your words are true and good.

Sybil said...

Keep going my Angry Black Friend !!
Love Ya Sybil x

Sarcastic Bastard said...

My Dear Sheria,
Women who have intelligence and some balls are always called angry or even a bitch. Whatever.

Anyone who thinks racism doesn't still exist must be a total dolt.

I love you dearly,


Beth said...

Awesome comments.

I'm with Ms. Moon. I grow weary of trying to keep the peace, and have resolved to start speaking up when I hear a nasty remark. This won't stop anytime soon, but I think it will stop quicker if WE make it clear that such remarks are out of line and not welcome. GRRRRR! And you know that I can be fierce when I need to. Remember CH? I guess he told someone that I was "really mean" to him. [evil grin] He has no idea...he only saw the tip of the Beth Iceberg. Anyhoo, I will happily be angry with you, and stand at your side. Love, Beth

jack-of-all-thumbs said...

Old friend,

You've written another fine post. Not a surprising assessment on my part, since I agree with 99% of it. I've thought a lot (and written a little) about the sorry motivation behind the people who write things like "The Black Plague". Our world can't rid itself of these hateful bigots fast enough. So, yes you have a right to be angry and your anger can serve to keep you whole. But please don't give in to it too much or too often. We need to hear your laughter too.

As for the remaining one percent; you probably know where we part company. And if I'm correctly remembering a conversation we had more than twenty years ago, it's about semantics. I maintain that blacks, or Asians or any other human being can be a racist. It is not a character flaw reserved for any particular segment of society. I seem to remember that you link racism to power; that those out of power can not by definition be racist. Correct me if I've mangled this distinction.

I consider it a detail. I'm angry too, though I accept that my anger is less, both in degree and in justification.

Take care.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Glad the link only gave one article, because I could not handle it if it had been more. Be angry, we all need to be.

Yasmin said...

I find it interesting that people are starting to speak up now and not because of "Political Correctness" I would also speak up and be described as an "Angry Black Woman" and would get often get comments like "We don't mean you" almost like they wipe my whole culture out when they make degortary remarks and when I did the same to them just to make the point there reation was to be hurt/insulted etc then I was wrong footed, therefore demonstrating the inequality that I sometimes have to put up with but they just don't see it sighs....keep being angry.

Take care