Monday, August 17, 2009

What I meant to say

I was later showing up at my dad's party than I had planned. It was all because I got sucked in by the movie The Power of One. I read the book almost twenty years ago and frequently refuse to get sucked in by the movie. Because I know it will make me angry. And so yeah, I was angry by the end of the the movie -- for the the things that others may have taken for granted. You know? Like being able to fill out a ballot form and have it count for something?

Because while I was driving up to Napa, all I could think was that some of us have achieved a great deal (and somehow no one knows of our achievements except our small group) but the rest of us hang in limbo. And this limbo seems to be defined by who will get credit.

And so this is how I started my Saturday. This is what I wanted to share with someone, anyone. But I let it all go on my way to the party. I imagined what it would be but that didn't mean that that would be what it was.

But it was. On some level at least. In the course of the party, I met at least one
African American who would awe you. I know that I was completely awed and I'm one jaded bitch. It was like what Emerald and I discussed -- why is it when a person of color does something incredible, it rarely makes it into the history books? Because that's what watching The Power of One brings out in me -- the feeling that anything that I do because of "who I am," will be diminished as such.

The estate in my photos? It's a near mirror of the dream home I imagined at age 11. I wonder how different the world would be if I had seen all of this at age 13 as opposed to age 43.

And then there's that other point -- being exposed to such a great measure of wealth. Here's the thing. Every time I hear the word "wealth" in my mind, I hear the words "noblesse oblige" as the resounding chorus.

Whenever I use the term "privilege," others are quick to look at my upbringing. Yes, I have been charmed but privileged? Privilege to me is a political term. Privilege is what stops a police officer from pulling you over because you are the correct complexion. What I really love is that most of the time the folks who will tell you this is not true, have never had to experience this special kind of degradation, humiliation, this feeling that while you are the descendant of people who have been here for several generations, you are a pox on society. You don't think this is true? Well look at the scorn that recent immigrants have upon the descendants of slaves in this country. Thank you to the dominant culture for once more reminding us of our place. Must really piss the hell out of you that an African American man is now President of this country. And here's the honest thing. Most of us voted for him and every day we fear for his life.

Because we have spent too many years seeing what happens to an African
American man who speaks his mind. In my every day life, I do the same. I don't want to be the "dumb" or "too volatile" African American woman so sometimes I hold my tongue. Of course that volatility thing is often attributed to any woman who speaks out against the status quo. I am proud to be a part of these women.

And this is all that I wanted to discuss on Saturday. But no one was available. And so I was left with the only person upon whom I've ever been able to depend -- myself. And this made me frustrated and sad. Because I knew that I wanted to speak truth and to make change. But can you really do that with an audience of one? And so my tears were a mixture of sadness and frustration.


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