I’m starting my personal Black History Month a little early. It’s not like we get a decent month anyway, so I’m taking a few extra days to indulge in my Blackness. (Really, I should be doing this every day, all day, all year.) It really hit home when companies were sending out their annual MLK Day sale email blasts. It just seemed like an empty gesture despite their intentions.
Impact trumps intent.
How many times do people have to say this? Some of these companies know better, what with the happenings in the crafty corners of Instagram and the Internet within the last year. It doesn’t matter if you donate money from the sales to this foundation or that coalition. Just donate it anyway, without a promotion, and be quiet about it. Real Gs move in silence.
I made up my mind last week that I don’t want to put up with microaggressions. Again, this was mainly for BHM, but something I need to remember in 2020 and onward. I deal with them more than someone should have to from people who consider themselves to be adults. I cannot, and will not, tolerate the “I was just trying to…” from people anymore.
The “I was just trying to…” is interesting because it’s sometimes said with a cowering tone, but only because the person saying it wants to play the victim. It can also present as “I only meant…”, “I didn’t mean to…”, and “Are you alright?” However it appears, it’s all racial gaslighting as far as I’m concerned.
Here’s how it goes:
- someone line-steps. Often this is a person who is used to doing so; they are a habitual line-stepper.
- You point it out and then they go, “I was just trying to…”, offering some explanation that they hope will exonerate them from the blame of crossing your boundaries.
- You look like the horrible, angry, intolerant person because you are asserting your sense of space, your actual space, and putting restrictions on how people can interact with you.
I’m not putting up with this shit anymore, man. Don’t bump into me and when I say, “pardon”, you say, “Oh, you’re alright.” NO. The onus is not on me to make the way clear for you. The onus is for you to be an adult who’s aware of others. I shouldn’t have to be aware of personal space for myself and other people. Just now, I started to put that it’s like driving defensively for other people who drive recklessly on the road. No. I’m not doing anything to pick up the slack for other people. Do better.
Do you know how often women have to deal with this? Do you know how often nonwhite women have to deal with this? How about those who need mobility aids? Do you push them, nudge them, bump into them without even thinking of their space? Make sure that you see people as well as their wheelchair/walker/cane. There are too many reports about people having their (sometimes expensive as hell) mobility aids damaged or destroyed by an airline crew or by someone who’s “trying to help” by folding something that doesn’t fold. See that? There it is. The “I was just trying to help them…” No.
Fellow boundary-appreciators, don’t let anyone do anything unless you gave them permission to come up in your space. This is as much for me as it is for someone else. I can too easily feel guilty for asserting my boundaries and doubt whether I was rightfully angry about a situation. Then, my good friends say, “Oh no, girl. That person tried it, but you know what you’re doing.”
Side note: I really don’t think people know how many times group texts and DMs save others from getting wrecked (physically or verbally).
Last week, I was in a Starbucks and a man (if you’re wondering, yes, yes, he was) walked in front of me three times without saying “excuse me”. Each time, I said, “excuse me?”, thinking that maybe he needed to be prompted. This is not my job and will ever be my job, but maybe I was just being nice that day. God looked out for him and his chin because I almost tripped him before grabbing my coffee and leaving. He still had the nerve to look at me like I grew three heads and said “Take me to your leader”. Then again, being a Black woman expecting civility, manners, and respect with a simple phrase from him was probably quite similar to being an alien.
Hannahdrake628 over at writesomeshit.com summed up some darn good points that I think Black women need to have ready-made photocopies to post (but if we did that, we’d lose our jobs and the amount of bail needed to help all the Black women who go off would be astronomical).
Rhetorical QTNA: How come Tyler Perry can honor the “strong, nurturing black women from [his] childhood” by making sure his wig sat right, but not any other Black woman’s wig in his productions?