Somehow you have found yourself in the center of someone else’s bull’s-eye. And it’s a big one. Big enough to focus on you and the millions of people around you. But what’s this? You find that if you move out of the center of that aim, you are less likely to get hit. Keep moving, and you reach a place where you might not get hit at all. What is the logical solution then? To keep standing there, indistinguishable from all other targets, or do you get your behind out of the line of fire?
There, now isn’t that better?
I think so, and it’s actually come to be a desirable point of view: I don’t see myself as always in the line of controversial fire. Whether it’s a matter of race, gender issues, or living as a black woman and therefore having to deal with both at the same time. Unless I look at something and see that I am unavoidably in the line of fire, I am in no hurry to run and jump in front of a bullet. I do not work for the Secret Service and am not being paid to do it, so what’s the point?
Some would say that the point is empathy and unity. Hmm.
The question must now be what is it exactly that I am empathizing and unifying with and what is the cost/benefit of doing so?
There are, and I suspect always will be, racists in the world. And classists, and sexists, and people who are all around unlikable idiots. And yes, some people catch me wrong or I get wind of a bull’s-eye on me that I can’t get out of the way of no matter what I do. And I do get angry or feel the need to protest, or take some sort of decisive action.
However, I have simply reached the point that unless I find myself feeling that there is a big unavoidable bull’s-eye on my back, I have no intention of getting into the line of fire. Especially if the person or persons I would be getting into the line of fire for are simply not worth the effort.
There is a way I see myself and the people I choose to associate with that is absolutely distinguishable and the antithesis of negative stereotypes and behaviors. I strive to be a better person and have no time for those that have a problem with this. Such backward low-minded people are no friends or kin of mine and I don’t claim them.
And this is where I part ways with a number of black people. Because unfortunately, the “unification in the face of outsiders no matter what” bug is heavily ingrained. It’s at a point where it’s practically instinct to, when fighting against stereotypical or negative perceptions, make yourself indistinguishable from other blacks who actually inhabit those negative tendencies, realities, and characteristics.
This is a serious problem. Why? Because for ages, this unification move has been coupled with silence in the face of bad behavior by a portion of blacks, in some cases harmful behavior to an extreme degree. If it’s not being silent about harmful behavior while portraying a unified front, it’s the actual audacity that some people have developed in seeking to justify supporting of and discourage the shaming of inappropriate actions and lifestyle choices. There is bristling at daring to encourage black women to make their wombs unavailable to men outside of marriage. There was public support for a man guilty of choking his girlfriend until she nearly passed out (#TeamBreezy). The enemy and cause for suffering among African Americans must always be seen as an outsider by some persons. I suspect this is to justify this unification stance no matter what the context or circumstances are.
So then unification is coupled with enabling of problematic behaviors. If there were no enabling, this move to empathize and unify would not be an issue for me. But the combination has gone on for so long, that not only are low life and low class people determined to be the accurate representation of all black people (I maintain that if these people were told to shut up from the beginning, words like “oreo” and “wannabe white” and “uppity” would not be allowed to circulate among black people today), for a number of non-whites, this seems to be the case; anyone that is NOT dysfunctional and uncouth is seen as the exception rather than the rule.
Yes, that is an unfortunate and unfair scenario and situation. But too often, even if I or you do not reflect the worse in all of blackness, we are asked to stick our necks out for and stand together with these trifling individuals. Always as a show of solidarity (that is often absent within the race if you don’t adhere to the “correct” level of blackness anyway) whenever non-black scrutiny arises in a way that is meant to reflect negatively on certain black folks.
As I pretty much mentioned, I could care less what racists think of me. They’re racists, and odds are, they aren’t going to change. However there is racism and then there is the belief that the most viable solution in the face of non-African American scrutiny is to bleed together the trifling and the non-trifling members of this ethnic group in order to somehow prove that negative media and public perceptions are not universal.
Rather than separate from, call out, or shame bad behavior (regardless of whether it is truly unique to blacks or not) the instinct is to in some way unify and defend everyone, regardless of whether or not it’s applicable to the individual. “WE are not all like that and WE must all oppose this because it is meant to reflect on ALL of US.”
For me, the more rational solution is to move out of the line of fire: You are not a stereotype, you are not one for foolishness, criminality, and subpar self-representation; you are not the lowest of the low. There is nothing in negative racial assumption for you to defend or rationalize or own. There is something in it for persons to whom these assumptions apply.
I have dealt with such persons, know they exist, and am more than aware that they are content to own the bottom of the barrel and be paid for merely existing and taking up space. They will fight you tooth and nail over Mammy, Sapphire, Jezebel, and every other stereotype that originated in white racism. These despicable lies have become their truth, and they are either too stupid or scared to let them go. And so, they’ve made it reality. THEIR reality, because logic says that stereotypes cannot be true all of the time. It’s a point I feel that is best proved by moving away from persons whom are more accurately represented by these negative perceptions, and out of the line of fire.
“It’s unfortunate that this is true about THAT group of people and THEY need to get THEMSELVES together. I and the people I associate with are not like THAT and certainly want more for ourselves. THOSE persons who do not are simply shameful. It’s disgraceful behavior.”
What I just did was called Othering. That is when you seek to distinguish undesirables from yourself, both because you are not an undesirable and because you have no desire to be confused with one.
A major issue is that when a group of African Americans try to other the undesirables that exist within our ethnic group, they get hit with the “Uncle Tom”/”Traitor to their race” label. The idea being that WE need to stick together NO MATTER WHAT (level of dysfunction must be allowed or tolerated) in order survive as a single race.
There is a difference between the special black snowflake means of separation and the need to separate as to not be confused with garbage. One occurs simply because you are seeking white approval and resent any other black person that threatens your position as “the exception”; the other occurs when a group of people collectively shame bad behavior to the point where persons understand they will not be tolerated or protected.
But more on that last paragraph in part two.
Coming up: Allowing fear to manipulate you into the crosshairs.
SPECIAL NOTE***: I am tweaking this series and going a bit more in depth, as it relates to discussion here. So aside from this post, future discussion won’t resemble posts I’ve made on this topic elsewhere. This will be BBW specific.