I feel like I need to come back to a space that is completely mine. It has been nearly a year since I’ve posted anything on this blog. And that is not for lack of trying. I have countless unfinished blogs that remain so for reasons of which I am not even sure; however, I need a release. I need somewhere to purge my thoughts.
The past few days, weeks, and months have been so trying. I am absolutely exhausted. There are actually a lot of things I want to talk about, but I will start with this one. I remember once at an interracial dating blog I used to frequent, I professed that I firmly believe that if the U.S. could reestablish slavery or even nationwide segregation, it would without a second thought. People’s responses were incredulous. But as each day passes, I stand more firm in this belief.
I belief in black people working hard to achieve the lives they want. I believe in us loving whomever who choose. I believe in us being happy and valued whether we are dark skinned or light skinned, fat or skinny, “ghetto” or pedigreed, or whatever variant of black person of which you can think. But the firm truth is that many, many people in this country do not feel the same. They do not want us to be happy. They do not want us to be valued. They do not want us in “their” spaces.
Yesterday, July 13, I attended a Yankees game in Yankee stadium with my closest female friend who is also black, a co-worker who is white (but insists on pointing out that he is Irish), and his friend who is Asian. My co-worker and I won tickets in a give away promoted by Fox News. When we arrived at the stadium (nearly two hours after the game started because the trains from Brooklyn into Manhattan were a wreck), there were a considerable amount of people already there and few seats available. My co-worker was able to snag a seat, his friend, my friend and myself sat on the stairs.
Next to us was a white family: a husband, two or three kids, and a wife. They got up often for whatever reason, which caused us to have to get up to let them pass. They were apologetic, but we were so excited that we were in box-seats right above all the action with free food and drink that we didn’t even care. I honestly didn’t realize until my friend pointed it out, but the two of us and my co-worker’s friend were likely the only people of color at this Fox hosted event. Even so, usually try to remind myself of how I want to behave when surrounded by a large amount of white people.
Never the less, we were there and enjoying ourselves, though the game was kind of dull. The Yankees ended up losing to the Minnesota Twins. Amid the game we got to talking about me and my co-worker’s job. His friend divulged that he reads some of my work (I write about mobile technology), and I showed him a cool trick to find an Easter egg on his Android phone. We then began discussing another who co-worker of ours who has some unorthodox work practices, which is something that upsets me, so I got a little heated in my discussion. While talking I cursed a few times, which prompted the husband from the previously mentioned white family to ask me to not curse.
Now, I go through waves. Sometimes I feel like I should be more lady like and not curse. Sometimes, I have so much emotion built up inside me from the culmination of life that there is no more room for fucks and I don’t have any to give. So I say my words as I see fit. I don’t recall exactly what he said, but I do recall that he yelled at me, and I was not appreciative of that. However, it caught me off guard so I just said, something like “okay” with a dirty look and went back to my conversation.
My co-worker was most vocal and in agreement that the guy was a douche. My friend pointed out that he had his children there. I can actually understand that. But the main reason I didn’t even consider them is because I had observed them several times, and they were not paying attention to anything but the game. As with other conversations going on around us — considering the roar of the crowd and the acoustics of the box seats, it was very difficult to hear very far. I had trouble hearing my co-worker who was sitting relatively the same distance to my left that this man’s children were sitting to my right. More so, I would have happily obliged to his request and likely even apologized had he himself not been so rude. I honestly, I was focused in my conversation, with my back turned to this man and his family, that I did not even consider the children. Surely that was not the first time someone has spoken exasperatedly about their job, and even more so surely not the first time someone has cursed at a baseball park.
After that it annoyed me to have to get up for him and his family, especially since they stopped staying excuse me at this point. At one point he was turning to his seat and I decided to go to the bathroom since I was already up. I turned over my shoulder and said, “If you’re going to dictate how people speak, you can at least say excuse me.” I don’t know if he heard me. I’m assuming me he did because when I returned, my co-worker informed me that the man had given him a “talking to.” As I said, my co-worker was just as annoyed at what happened as I was, and being the journalist that he is brought up the first Amendment. Supposedly the man said to him something along the lines of, “I have first Amendment rights too and if I were to say something racist or homophobic you wouldn’t like that.” My friend is scratching her head at why he brought up homophobic, but I have an idea. Due to the way we were sitting on the stairs, she was sitting a few stairs above me and I sat below in between her feet. Not even in between her legs, literally just her feet. We took a few photos for which I leaned back to get both of us in the shot and at one point she tucked my shirt tag into my shirt. I believe this made the man believe we were lesbians. But we are not. My relationship with my boyfriend is still going strong and my friend is as boy crazy as they come.
When I did return, I sat back down on the stair next to the man and it was clearly uncomfortable. Eventually my co-worker got up for a snack and asked me to guard his seat, but let me sit there after he returned. About 10 minutes after that the family left and we snagged their seats and enjoyed the rest of the game without incident. But we did discuss what the man said even more. According to my co-worker, he also said, “I don’t even know what you all are doing here, you don’t seem like Fox fans to me.”
It is quite funny to me that this man not only said all of this while I was away, but also only addressed my white co-worker while trying to passive aggressively slur me, my friend and possibly my co-worker’s friend too. I keep replaying in my mind what I would have said to him, “Sir, you can exercise your first Amendment rights as you wish, but not only would you be incorrect because no one is homosexual here, but in directing your bigotry at us, when no one was even talking to you, you are also doing nothing but proving that you are a nasty racist idiot, and I’m sure that will affect your kids a lot worst than my cursing somewhere near them.” I wish I would have gotten the chance to say that, honestly. But alas, I’m not getting a lot of things that I desire lately, so as said, I will simply have to purge myself here.
It’s funny, amid all of the things that I have witnessed in the past days, weeks, and months — from public to private to personal, and especially after that indecent, I am explicitly reminded of how careful I have to be in white spaces. And that perturbs me to my very core, even though I’m already well aware that black women are not allowed to have emotions of any kind. But you know what, it won’t stop me from enjoying my summer the way I see fit. It will not stop me from enjoying perks that I happen to com across. I don’t have to be a fan of Fox. I’m a fan of the Yankees. I’m a fan of free food and beer. I’m a fan of fun with my friends.
In that stead I am amazed and at the same time not even surprised at how many white people are going so much out of their way in order to exact their white privilege and control over black people and other people of color in whatever fashion. In the last month alone, I swear nearly all of the instances of the N-word of which I have heard were uttered by white people. From Paula Deen, to the black woman who was slurred in a text on the 4th of July, to the black man who knocked out a drunk white man who slurred him, to the black female poet I follow on tumblr who is not only regular slurred but accused of being a racist due to her poetry about pride in her race, to this man thinking he can threaten me and my friends with whatever racial slur he can think of in order to put us in our place.
I am at a loss for how to conclude these thoughts. Lest this blog end up in my long archive of unfinished posts, I will simply end here. I urge anyone reading to share their opinions below.