Voices

You don’t get to use me: This black girl is tired of doing the heavy lifting

I have a whole list of Regular Black Girl Problems, and you want me to come to a meeting and try to make you legit?

2018 Charlotte Women's March (Photo: Qcitymetro)

A couple of weeks ago, Qcitymetro published an open letter to black women under the headline “Can we talk? Let’s bridge the racial divides that separate women in Charlotte.”

Qcitymetro columnist Gerald Terrell wrote a beautiful column in response to that letter, which was authored by two (I’m sure well-meaning) white women who are part of the Charlotte Women’s March and attempting to reach out to black women. Terrell referenced the scathing remarks that readers made on social media. I agreed with every word he said. But he said he couldn’t respond as a black woman, because, well, he’s a black man.

I, however, can respond as a black woman. A tired black woman who is done with chasing people down.

The first thought was “Aww. That’s nice.”

Then: “Girl, please.”

Honestly, I didn’t finish reading the comments for the letter because I was rolling my eyes too hard at the letter itself. People want more from me? After the 2016 national election, after Charlottesville, after the Alabama election, I. Am. Tired. Of. Doing. The. Heavy. Lifting.

Fifty-three percent of white women voted for the person who now sits in the White House. That means, if I am in a room with two white women, there is a good chance one of those women voted against her own economic good. If she is one of the (wealthy) 1%, then she voted against everybody else’s economic good, AND she voted for somebody with whom she likely wouldn’t leave her daughter alone.

Question: If you are one of the 1% and you voted for him, would you allow your daughters to be alone in a room with him? Take a moment to work through it.

I have a whole list of Regular Black Girl Problems, and you want me to come to a meeting and try to make you legit? You’re not using me that way. I’m not going to allow my presence to give this idea authenticity when women who look like me have been trying to convince you of certain truths for a long while. I’m not here to make you feel better about anything.

Bridge the racial divide? Sweetie, people who look like me have been trying for basic civil rights – nothing special, just basic – and you want us to help you bridge a racial divide that YOU helped put into place and keep in place (reference Alabama, 2016, Charlottesville, hell, the NFL flag protest, the need to repeatedly ratify the Civil Rights Act) through silence, well-placed verbiage and other duplicity?

Do you understand the words you are saying to me?

Girl. PLEASE.

Look, I don’t doubt the earnest intent in the invitation. And white women, all y’all aren’t the victims of my ire. I can name names, if that’ll help. Does that make you feel better?

I almost didn’t go to the women’s march this year because it seemed a waste of time.

I didn’t feel like my interests were an issue. Why are we marching now? We weren’t marching three years ago – what has changed? Oh. It’s about (Y)OUR life now. Not mine. Not really.

And after the Roy Moore election in Alabama, I was tired of again watching women of color do the hard work for a country that sees our families as thugs and N-words. Pink hats and signs – so what? If you don’t have the collective sense not to vote for a child molester and a confessed sexual predator, then wearing a set of kitty ears and bopping around in uptown isn’t going to help anything.

This year, even though my fear has grown over the direction the country is taking, I feel used – and that icky feeling peaked after Charlottesville.

Over the past 16 months, I have often found myself in the middle of discussions that center on race, typically as the only person of color in the room or on the discussion thread, sometimes with people I know only marginally. It has felt as smarmy as discussions after the Charleston church massacre, with everybody looking at the black girl for words of hope and inspiration, or taunting the black girl with comments about “these black people.” After Charleston, I usually gave some platitude about being horrified and sad.

Recently, it has been different.

“This isn’t new to me,” I say again, and again. “It’s just new to YOU, because the majority of the people [it is happening to] look like you. Black people live in a certain amount of fear daily. And if you really want to know what this particular black person thinks, come ask me.”

To be clear, I wasn’t referencing only Charlottesville. I was talking about life in general, with Charlottesville being the impetus. I was talking from a space of theoretical aloneness.

It has been quiet around here lately, after my invitation to talk. Outside of my closest inner circle, and sometimes even within it, nobody truly wants to hear me hit this sad, bitter note.

“It’s scary,” a friend says, “when women are divided.”

True. We need each other, and this isn’t new. But you’re asking for my strength and generosity at a time when I have little left. That will go away, in time, I hope.

But I’m not here to make anybody feel better or good or happy, and I’m over being a fixer.

What I (personally, Dartinia) am reading in this letter is you need black women to make your movement legit. But see – you don’t get to use me (personally, Dartinia) that way. You need to legitimately acknowledge your duplicity and part in where we are, and then YOU need to figure something out. Figure out how YOU will fight for racial equality, reproductive rights, sexual equality, heath care and systemic equity, daily, by the minute, the second, if necessary. My friends who are already in the trenches have been loudly saying this and doing this for a long, long time. We talk, sometimes daily, sometimes more than once daily, sometimes every few months, about life and issues and our worries. I know who they are, and they don’t need to send me a letters asking me to tea.

Call them. I can give you names.

Once you get things figured out, maybe I’ll show up. Until then, I’m sitting the f— down.

Dartinia Hull is a woman of color trying not to lose her cool in a world that consistently pushes her to the edge.

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