Blog post continues:
I explained to a colleague recently that when people first see or come into contact with you as a black woman they may have one or two likely responses but likely they will respond negatively if they haven’t had the experience of confronting a black woman in the situation before. As black women many of us are still entering ’first’ situations because we tend to or have tended to self-segregate more than black men and confine ourselves to black spaces and pasttimes (so people are not used to dealing with bw in untypical situations). If people haven’t experienced black woman in a certain situation trust me, the more likely reaction you will get will be discomfort, you will see it in their faces and reactions whcih often speaks to an underlying race issue or insecurity that is unresolved. most times this will result in them trying to get rid of the source of this discomfort, and you guessed it they might then try to 'eject' you from the situation and they will get about doing this without even being aware that this is what they are doing and indeed without diagnosing that this is because of a racial animus.
Once you stand your ground or are allowed to be in place for sometime, you will see how soon your being around or being there ‘normalizes’. One bw I know had a very bad experience when she was called to ‘head’ a certain project. I told her to hang in there and pretend she didn’t even notice that folk were uncomfortable and didn’t know how to respond to her and her being there. Very soon people settled into their little camps.
Yes there were those who couldn’t deal and did their little sabotaging things here and there, thankfully they were not in positions of great power and ultimately she had a number of important allies whose sense of fairness (this is one of the most useful and salient aspects of the white identity which is more important to appeal to than ‘anti-racism,’ because most whites are desperate to see themselves as fair-minded people even while they may be too nervy to comfront race and racism) didn’t allow them to side with all sorts of racist shenanigans (though very few were able to name the going ons for what it truly was ie racism, they just felt they needed to give the new person a fair shake).
Pretending you don’t know what is going on while silently doing your thing is one of the best moves a bw can make. Trust me, give things a chance to ‘settle,’ don’t feel you have to respond to peoples attitudes. Allow for folks to even cancel each other out by being in team this and team the other, while you burrow down and attend to the business of getting yourself up to speed on your job, project, team etc.
Speaking also about how white people do not really or are not able to suss racist animus or identify it as a factor in a situation, I want black women to realize this very important truth; white women in particular do not even understand or know that they are being racist to black women in many of those work/social situations that you all talk about no matter how incredulous this may sound!
Some of you think they know what they are doing, the truth is some might have an oblique understanding that race has something to do with how they are responding to this black person but often a defense mechanism will kick in (remember the aim of defence mechanisms is to shield one from their own anxiety producing/unacceptable emotions and impulses and what is more unacceptable to the self image of a white person than the notion that they are really racists!) and they will latch unto or even manufacture another 'reason' for their response to you to eg they might say you have an 'attitude' (and you dont necessarily need to have one, you could be the nicest person on earth but they will project the readily available seterotype of bw unto you and rarely will this be challenged because bw are deemed to be so, as well as bw themselves reinforce the 'big and bad' attitude almost to the level of an identity).
There is a certain level of lack of self awareness that goes with living as a privileged being (a white person), in addition being a ’protected,’ unchallenged privileged being (I am talking white womanhood) means even a greater level of lack of self-awareness! This is why white men in my calculations are more aware and can own that they could be behaving in a racist manner (and thus are able to be reasoned with and can be pulled back), as opposed to white women whose very comon reaction is to burst into incredulous tears when it is pointed out.
You very rarely win if you directly confront a white woman about her racist reactions to you for the above and other reasons....
To be contd
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