Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Systematic Oppression

So I’ve “suddenly” started dealing with my race and many of you know what I mean. I’ve mentioned some instances with a handful of you on this email list and I wanted to get your views on today’s topic. I had two very candid conversations with two very special bloggers last night and much of today’s content can be accredited to said bloggers, but I digress. All of my regular readers are African American so I’m not going to sugarcoat what’s been on my mind. As a child I was raised around nothing but white kids. My siblings and I went to predominately white schools. I attended private schools in high school, so I went through that part of my life believing that “white was right” as the saying goes. Then I upped, applied, got accepted and attended a Historically Black University which taught me a lot concerning today’s society (in both positive and negative ways). As an alum of North Carolina A&T State University, black was what I came to know. Yes, I’m black but it became a custom to me. I was used to being in classes with nothing but people that looked like me, that understood me, and could identify with many of the same issues. Black was my primary society, which wasn’t reality. Let’s be real – we [African Americans] aren’t the norm.
All of my close college friends are black. Most of my courses were based around praising the capacity of Blackness which I appreciate and treasure beyond measure, but on the flip side of that, the fact of the matter is that I wasn’t adequately prepared for what I’m dealing with now. THE SYSTEM. The thing that we mention casually or in a sardonic, mordacious or joking manor but don’t realize the complexity and potency of the issue. No it’s not 1945. It’s 2008 and the racism that we experience is more dangerous than ever before. Mainly because it’s less blatant and I think that most individuals – both white and black – think that racism is a blatant act of hatred. But the more subtle act is far more severe. THE SYSTEM. I can only speak from personal experience. I work in a predominately Caucasian industry and am constantly bombarded with the bullshit question, “How can YOU be BLACK?” Let me explain. Better still, let me give you all an example.
I have a Caucasian sounding name – Ashley McCann. My office phone voice is very professional and can be mistaken for a woman of a different race – namely an educated white woman. My email dialect is dense with etiquette and words that show that I know what I’m doing and what I’m talking about, and more importantly, that I’m educated. So with all that said, the industry that I work in is dominated by nothing but SOUTHERN WHITE MALES and when I met many of my clients face-to-face, jaws dropped. “You’re Ashley?” “The Ashley that handles print sales for MY company?” “Really?” I’m the only black woman in an office of all white counterparts as I’ve said in a previous blog (New America) and I’ve come to realize the fight that we, as black individuals, have to fight by default. We constantly fight stereotypes, racism, and even the stereotypes that we’ve been forced to impose on ourselves. Crazy, huh?
I don’t know that I really have a question today. I think I just want to hear some personal experiences from you all concerning today’s issue. THE SYSTEM. Well maybe I do have a question or a couple for that matter. When does the fight end or is it perpetual? Does the fight define the resilience and strength of our race? Don’t you all answer at once but you know I love to hear what you have to say. Keep me reading and let me know what you think, what you’ve experienced, whatever! I want to know. The beauty of it all is, in spite of what I’m dealing with and will continue to deal with, I know that my struggle is neither something that I’ll deal with alone or something that is in vain. What can we say? We’re black for a reason. How do you deal with the fortunate, yet seemingly unfortunate card you’ve been dealt? I guess that’s three questions. This should make for an interesting discussion.


Big Jerz said...

Shit Mama ! After this morning's topic I wish I was in on the conversation that sparked this ! LOL ! I'll tell you this. I grew up with you in a culturally seperated town in NJ and I was often with you when you moved to NC and I have been through many of the same experiences as a young man. In school I was always a part of the Gifted and Talented sector (High Honors courses) and that often left me to be the only Negroid in the place. I would almost invite the obvious disadvantage by Over-Blacking my behavior ! LOL ! I used to call out answers without raising my hand, hurry thru tests and SIGH heavily to let everyone know how bored I was with thier slow methodical approach to learning, I'd read ahead chapters in my school work so I could come to class and sleep or act disinterested just so I could wake up and answer any question the teacher asked ! LOL !!! I was a wild boy ! But what I was trying to do was show them Crackers that YES, I AM A NIGGA(ER) and I'm smarter than you Fuckers ! LOL ! Even as I got older and the street elemnts that I chose caught up with me and I went away on that "vacation" that so many black men have had to take (Jail yall)I was in a predominantly white area so the Jail was mainly populated with white dudes. I again relied on my OVERT Negroidian expressionism to make room for me. Whoopin ass in Poker and Spades, and talkin tough became the safest way for me to move about without being challenged. I'm kinda THICK so nobody was looking to lock horns but I made sure by making these crackers think I was stone loco !!! LOL !!! Acting tough all day long, I'd go in My Bunk at night, write Mona letter, Get my Bible and read until the tears of fear and frustration clouded my eyes to much to go on...sleep would slide up the wall and rescue me from the waking torment of the result of some of my bad decisions. One day we'll blog about the prison system and how White and Black men are being treated beneath the Common lines of Human Decency. But I digress. Even now in my profession my ability to communicate and articulate well, (AIKEN FAMILY STAND UP !)has put me in a position to make room for myself. But it's the way I can cling to what makes me "Black" that really sets me apart from so many others in my game. I can produce Pop records and send them out and when the labels express interest they're always surprised to see these dues with Black tees, Big Jeans, Fitted Hats and Timbs on ! LOL !!! It's almost better that they got a "White" record from "Black" dudes because Blackness has always been and will always be what dictates COOL ! LOL ! Shit I have a question... WHY IS IT THAT WHATEVER WE SAY IS POPPIN BECOMES THE SHIT ? They take our words, our culture, tried to take our music...Damn Go Get your OWN !!!!!!!! LOL !!! Just My Thoughts NIGGAS ! Yolla BUCK

Ashley M. said...

Kid u r off the chain! Like mc'ds I'm lovin it! Keep em coming!

Posted by S. Todd