Back then I wrote a piece that spoke to how I, as a Black woman, have always felt the sting of racism and how it surprised me that well-meaning (and some not so well-meaning) people expressed sentiments suggesting that this was something new. It initially bothered me when I learned that work colleagues found this piece online and commented on it, but then it didn't. Because maybe they needed to read it. They needed to know. I'd like to share this piece with you today.
I Never Didn't Know
Reading and hearing what white people are saying about racism right now is rather interesting to me. I know they mean well, I know that their hearts are in the right place, yet I find some of their responses to the killing of George Floyd and to the riots in the aftermath… well, I find them interesting.
It’s as if they just woke up and realized what I never had the luxury of not knowing. I never didn’t know that America wasn’t a fan of mine or of people who look like me.
I never didn’t know that there were people who would take one look at me and decide who I was simply based upon the color of my skin.
I never didn’t know that my master’s degree would put me on par with white colleagues with a BA.
I never didn’t know that my ability to do a good job, to write a good report, to maneuver through a difficult project would be questioned because I’m a Black woman in a white world.
I never didn’t know.
I never didn’t know that I could be followed or asked to show ID in a store because of what my skin color represents to some store managers.
I never didn’t know that my hairstyles would be questioned and judged.
I never didn’t know that I wouldn’t be welcomed in some neighborhoods.
I never didn't know that I might not always get the best seat or get the best service in restaurants I spent my money in.
I just never didn’t know.
So for white people to now tell me how sorry they feel for me, well, I’m not sure how to take that. Because my life has been fine. I've managed.
Please don't feel sorry for me. Save your sorry for the families that have lost loved ones while I've just simply been slighted, ignored, overlooked, and insulted.
Save it for the people of my mother's generation who thought that their marching and sitting was so that their children and grandchildren wouldn't have to witness the atrocities we're seeing today.
Save your sorry for the young Black adults who don't yet understand that no matter how much Starbucks coffee they drink, they are still Black folks in a white world and pray that when their eyes open to this fact, it won't be too painful.
Save it for them, cause I'm good.
Sure, there certainly is a lot of room for improvement and there are things I've seen and endured that I hope the next generation won't have to experience. But understand me when I say that this is all I've ever known and I'm OK.
You see, I never knew how not to be comfortable in my skin... never knew how not to turn the other way when an insult was hurled my way... never knew how not to just deal with it. I know I have my parents and my upbringing to thank for that. And I'm grateful.
So, white people, please understand me. I'm not suggesting that your comments right now are anything but sincere. I know they are and I appreciate them. But it just feels a little odd. You're just acknowledging what I've lived with my entire life. How could our realities be so very, very different?
Thank you for finally getting it. But for me? Its been my life.
I never didn't know.