I Don’t Write About Race Because It’s a Timely Endeavor That Makes Me The Expert
So, here’s the thing. I’m a writer. That’s how I define the way I spend my time as my fingers urgently tap the keyboard and my screen alights with the words I’ve specifically chosen as the best way to express my mood — at that exact moment.
I never plotted to be a “top writer” in this category nor did I righteously agree to be regulated to hashtags — that supposedly describe my pursuits with no questions asked.
The moment I swerved into the realm of activism was when I was seated at the neighborhood café in a quaint and mostly White neighborhood on the stretch of Magazine Street in New Orleans. I was unemployed and rapidly depleting the funds in my bank account and credit cards.
I was living with a hoarder and her precious daughter who was practicing five days a week to secure her dreams of becoming a world renowned ballerina.
I was spending each and every morning convincing myself that despite the glaring realization that I had made the wrong move — there had to be a very good reason why I was nursing my present reality.
It was the winter of 2014 — and all of a sudden — I was faced with the stormy headlines of racial injustice — being played out in the lives that were being extinguished as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
Let’s be clear, this form of cruel and unjust punishment has been legally mandated for as long as we’ve been alive — but the interference of social media — that gives us the power to gag over images and videos — depicting Black victims gasping for air as their White assailants evoke the last rights through gun shots and willful suffocation — gave me permission to initiate my mission.
I aged beyond my years during that turbulent period of nonstop headlines that disturbingly echoed the plight of Black America through the lenses of bewildered eyewitnesses — and the hunger of media outlets that needed to capitalize on the virus of the moment.
I began the odyssey into the treacherous terrain of a subject that I had avoided at all cost until the sum of my denial became too much to bear — without the loan from a community that I respected but hadn’t quite embraced as my own.
Dear White People, reaching out to me for the blueprint of my expertise in the realm of race relations in an effort to secure your ability to venture into unknown territories — with me as your life vest — isn’t the way to prove your guilt for the embattled souls that sift among the rubble of their demise with silent fury.
I’m chained to what I know as truth but I’m even less equipped to speak on it when you consider that I led a somewhat pampered life in Lagos, Nigeria.
I grew up up with parents that were secure in their dream jobs while they enrolled me in their dream institutions. I was fed the truth through their eyes — and it was distorted by the lenses of America in the Seventies — a time when African immigrants were assured by their White hosts that they were comparably superior to their American-grown counterparts.
I did the work it took to get me here.
I experienced the falsehood of being embraced by White America. I fumbled my way through the weeds of disorganization to land in the field of a city that presents a cohesive landscape of what it means to have the liberty to choose the ones that lovingly have your back.
I was lost and now I’m found.
I refute the argument that was forced into my system by ignorance and fear.
I know that my background as a Nigerian-American is uniquely bequeathed to my birthright, which I didn’t choose, but honor with the assurance that it won’t translate to my utter disregard for the fact that despite not growing up here — I have lived in the States long enough to cement my assimilation into a culture that has been historically under attack with brutal consequences.
I don’t write about race because it’s a timely endeavor that makes me an expert — so please don’t assign me that shit.
Don’t reach out to me because you just have to pick my brain and have my approval stamped on whatever project you hope will propel your agenda into the heights of recognition — that comes with expertly filleting a trend that is gratifyingly still positioned for long-term mileage.
Please don’t assume that I pour my heart out in an effort to extort the bloodshed of those who died because they looked like me — and were brave enough to refuse their captors the pleasure of a good night’s sleep — after the bullets were released and the concrete pavement caressed by the skin of captives under siege.
I beg you not to be so bold in your quest to convince yourselves that your mission is godly — when deep down we know that you need me to validate your exercise into a realm that surpasses your understanding — and yet you want to be a scholar.
Not for goodness sake but for the privilege of being able to claim that despite being far removed from the narrative where you are cast as evil — you were able to transcend into heroism — thanks to ambitious networking that ultimately ushers the chance to be White and cleansed from all sins past and present.
Please don’t assign me your shit.
I was the Whitest Black girl not too long ago until I shed my outer layer and allowed my sores to heal through the people I welcomed into my life — and the awareness that served as the ointment that still soothes through thick and thin.
I’m not the one who will guide you through the process of being Woke and Trendy by the click of your fingers or the retweets that solidify your journey into the team that wins undercover.
If you want to be black — you have to be Black and if you can’t manage that on your own — then maybe you need to stay White and curious.