featured

Yes, Black People Stories Are “In” Right Now, But Listening Is Only Half The Work

Just before sitting down to write this post, I read a Twitter story about a woman who took her mother to an eye doctor. They tried to explain that they were worried about a procedure because of the systemic abuse that Black people have faced at the hands of Doctors, and the Doctor turned his back on them, typed on the computer, and told them to get a second opinion.

This reaction is pretty standard when Black or colored folk say that they have a problem. We can tell the moment that someone has tuned out emotionally from our side of the story, and frankly y’all, it’s exhausting. We know you don’t care, we’re fully aware that you’re only listening because you think it is what you should do, not because it’s what you want to do, so can we stop pretending that you care now?

In my WEOC group we started talking about Black people, and the number of us colored folk (not the same as Black people) are being heard right now. Yes, we do believe that people of color are being heard more now then ever before, but don’t get it twisted, we are fully aware that the only reason so many people are listening to us is because they can and are fully able, to capitalize on our stories.

While many of us are willing to let you capitalize on our stories so that we can get our names out there, I just want you to know, that we absolutely see what you’re doing.

Black Panther changed the game when it comes to Black stories. With the rise of the fandom, and the way that audiences around the world opened their loving arms for this film, white people around the world realized that we were thirsty for our own stories.

Black Lives Matter was just starting to get as big as it is now, and between that and Black Panther, white people realized that there was and is, a lot of money to be made on providing space to Black people.

That’s all great and well and good, but it’s only half the job.

You can’t just sit a Black person at a desk and pay them to tell their story, you actually have to hear their story, and make adjustments to your behavior in order to change the system, and a lot of (white) people are just not comfortable doing that.

When you provide space for people of color (not always Black), to share their stories, and their experiences, you are helping with their mental health, their emotional, spiritual, and physical health. You are giving them empowerment by saying “yes, I want to hear your story, so that I know what I can do to help,” and that’s incredibly powerful.

White people need to stop defending shit like Dr. Seuss. No we are not being too sensitive when we say that he was a racist. We are not too sensitive when we say that the medical care that we receive subpar care as people of color or Black people. We are being honest about our experience, and whether or not you like it, you have to respect that this is how we feel.

Imagine me telling a white woman to stop being so sensitive when her male boss grabs her ass? That would never happen, so how the hell are you going to tell me that I should be less “sensitive” when something comes past me that is racist and that harms me emotionally, physically, or spiritually?

I was raped as a child a lot, those who have read this blog know that. What you may not know is that 99% of my rapists were white men who figured they could do whatever they wanted, and pass me around to others who would rape me, because of the color of my skin.

They figured, rightfully so, that they would get away with it, because no one would care about the little Brown girl who didn’t want to be used as a dumpster truck for their penises.

Should I just get over that, or am I justified in my anger and rage? I didn’t finish high school because I couldn’t concentrate in school because I was in a constant state of shock. Every day that I went to school, I honestly did try my best, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t concentrate. I would have a conversation with a teacher one moment, and three minutes later, forget everything we’d discussed, because my brain would just get stuck and shut off.

Pressure of any kind made this worse, and rather than encourage me, or ask me if I was okay, my teachers just assumed that I had a behavioral or attitude problem. Not one teacher or teacher’s assistant ever asked me if I was okay, or asked me what I needed, and to be honest with you, I don’t know what I would have said if they had.

Life for Black folk, and for people of color is difficult as it is, so if you want to make our lives easier, then you actually have to listen to the words that come out of our mouths, and you have to be willing to do the work to make shit better.

If you’re not willing to do that, you’re either a racist, or you’re lazy, or both, and that’s the frustrating part. We already expect that people are going to show us their true colors, and that those colors are going to be ugly, but it’s such a rare relief when people show us that they actually care.

Sometimes it can be debilitating or overwhelming when people show us they really do care about us, because we’re just not used to it, and that’s a fact regardless of your skin color.

Yes we can tell when you are listening, and yes we absolutely can tell when you are tuning us out. We understand that the shifting and inability for you to sit still while we share our stories with you, means that you are uncomfortable and trying to find a way not to listen to us. Yes, facing your computer when we’re trying to express our worries and concerns means that you aren’t actually listening and we know this.

Regardless of your race, creed, nationality, color, size, and government issued or chosen gender identity, we know when you stop caring about who we are as human beings, because we’ve been trained by the best of the best, and some of us are willing to tell you when we’re not interested in having you be a part of our village.

The problem isn’t with people of color, or Black people saying “I don’t want you on my team,” the problem is that too many of you Doctors, Teachers, Lawyers, Politicians, and other people in positions of power, have absolutely zero interest in changing your behavior to ensure that our experience is just as good as yours. Yes, you are the problem.

So how do we fix this problem? Get over yourself. Stop thinking that you are the expert on everything, regardless of your experience. If you’re a Doctor and the majority of your patients are not Black people, then you have no range to decide if we’re telling the truth or not. Assume that when we talk to you, we’re telling the truth, just like you would with our white counterparts.

If you’re a teacher and you have a student who is Black or a person of color, and they have behavioral issues, ask them what they need, ask them if they are okay, actually put effort into showing them that they can trust you in case they really do need help.

There are a lot of things that happen behind the scenes of a person’s life that they don’t talk about, largely because they don’t feel safe talking about their fears and insecurities. If we are to ever get anywhere in this world, we have to start getting comfortable, with being uncomfortable.

Sending all my love,

Devon J Hall

Categories: featured

Tagged as: , , , ,

Share Your Thoughts

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.