I hesitated to write this because I’m often times tormented at the thought of being known as the “race writer.”
Does she only write about this stuff because she really cares or is it because she’s perfected the art of producing essays that are convincing enough to garner the right amount of attention — when she hits “publish.”
I know where I’m coming from as a Black woman who is scared to death at the thought of being reduced to a trending hashtag — that will eventually fade in the company of the old stash that still remains tragically dishonored — and very dead.
For me — it’s all about trying to expose the daily challenges that always seem to weigh down the common folk — who are doing their very best to survive — in a country that delivers the “middle finger” at every turn. And it doesn’t have to be the stuff that is filmed and uploaded — and then endorsed with the promise of Twitter-rage — followed by the eventual suction into media outlets for the parade of recognition.
It’s usually the shit that I witnessed an hour ago while checking out my items at the grocery store.
The self-check avenues are awesome for customers like me — who just want to waltz in and out without fanfare. It’s a very straightforward process that just requires scanning — paying and bagging.
But — today was different because while I was entering the code for the asparagus — I heard the woman in the aisle ahead of me — bitching loud enough to get the attention that was now directed her way.
She was a Black woman in her early fifties and she was trying to bag her stuff while the White woman who looked a little bit older than her — seemed to be scanning her groceries and tossing them on the belt — which ended up creating a traffic jam.
The Black woman was venting her frustration at the White lady who apparently made a comment that indicated that she was blaming her for the confusion — that could’ve been avoided if only the White lady had waited for the person at the end of the belt to bag all her stuff — instead of purposely complicating a very simply procedure.
The Black woman was pissed as fuck and as her voice carried through the store — I watched the reactions from the White people nearby — and as always — there was the look of fear and loathing.
The manager was a White woman and as she approached the situation — I caught her mouthing the words “It’s okay” to the stunned White woman who was being “attacked” by the “angry Black woman.” Of course she stood there in a fragile state without uttering a word.
She just silently watched the Black woman pack up her stuff and remained stoically restrained as the manager came to her side to monitor the Black woman’s movements — to ensure the safety of the White woman who started the shit in the first place.
It was clear from the body language of the manager and the other White people in the vicinity — that the Black woman’s aggressiveness towards the White woman was enough proof to assume that she was bullying someone who didn’t do anything to deserve such viciousness.
I could also tell that the Black woman sensed the same thing because she never stopped voicing her frustration at the notion that she was being made out to be the “Black bitch” — when in fact it was the nonsensical actions of the White woman that created all the drama.
The Black woman also made it clear that she was already on edge before she was unfortunate enough to run into a stranger who just made her day a lot worse.
As she walked away with her groceries — I watched the manager shake her head and roll her eyes as she continued to comfort the “victim” — and assure her that she did nothing to warrant the ire of a mentally unhinged Black woman.
The White woman calmly continued to scan her items and I also began the task of getting my fruits and veggies in order. But — then I could feel the sensation of heat emanating from my ears and I knew what was happening to me.
I was livid.
Suddenly — I was transported to the times when White women have quietly tried to assert their authority in ways that were meant to demean me. Like that one time at the gym — when I stood at the sink — in the shower area — tending to my hair — and a White girl told me to stop wasting the running water — and I politely told her to mind her fucking business.
Or that time when I was at the gym and just before starting my work out on the elliptical — I quickly used the towel to dab my nose — and an older White lady berated me for using the gym towel to blow my nose. I ignored her and pretended to blow my nose.
The point is that as Black women — we’re already screwed because of the “angry Black woman” label — that’s why we can’t ever win — even when we’re innocent.
White women play up their docile nature to their advantage by being reservedly mean-spirited in ways that necessitate a strong response from the provoked target — who has the right not only to be offended — but to strike back accordingly.
But — when that happens — White women recoil into their shell of victimhood that can also be accompanied by tears — that easily wash away their guilt — while the real victims are transformed into villains — simply because they refuse to be treated like crap.
As I walked towards the exit with bags in tow— I overheard the manager speaking to a Black employee who also appeared to be in management — and as she explained how the “angry Black woman” unleashed hell fire for no good reason — the Black man seemed to acknowledge her words with casual validation.
As always — the White woman wins and the Black woman loses.
Yes — she probably could’ve kept her cool and patiently explained the basics of customer relations as it pertains to being a considerate shopper — but instead — she lost her shit and didn’t refrain from exhibiting those signs — even if it meant bearing the blame for something she didn’t initiate.
I’m sharing this because what happened explains why Black men get handcuffed for merely sitting down at Starbucks — while waiting for their appointment to arrive. This is exactly why Black women get assaulted by police officers — because they’re seen as a threat.
This is the reason why Black people are guilty before they’ve even been tried by a court system — that has been rigged to guarantee that a fair trial will not be an easy feat.
An episode at a grocery store was a quick study on race relations and why staying angry is the Black woman’s burden of truth.