The other week, I wound up in two separate altercations with angry black women. The problem is, I saw them as angry black women.
They were being stubborn, and as I saw it, incredibly illogical.* There are three things that get me super upset, illogicalness, inefficiency and being called a liar. These two were pushing the first two buttons. They yelled and swore at me. Somehow, I managed to stay polite and not do either of those things back (which for anyone who knows me is a big deal and a long-fought-for small achievement). But even though I was somewhat proud of myself for staying relatively calm, there was this nagging extra anger.
When I was upset, agitated, riled up, my mind immediately went to racial stereotypes. The fact that I did that made me even more upset. At them. At the women for perpetuating the stereotype. I was like, here they are, making things worse for… fill in any of the black females in my life. I was mad at them for being black and angry when I needed to be angry at myself for attributing anything about the situation to their blackness, for thinking of them as angry black women instead of just upset people.
When I was in the middle of trying to deal with these ladies on the street, I started analyzing their behavior, “maybe they are being extra stubborn because I’m white and doing what I ‘want’ would be submitting to the man.” But maybe they weren’t. Whether they were or not is on them, not me. Their projection of race into the confrontation would be on them, but my projection of race into the confrontation is on me. And I put it there, and then blamed them for my putting it there.
I feel like I start to understand people who join white supremacist groups. It’s not that their beliefs are correct, far from it. It’s that it is easier to hate. It is easier to hate and be around people who justify that hate instead of challenging it. It is easier to hate than to forgive yourself for being unable to love.
All of us need to battle racism everyday. The majority of us---and we are still the majority in this country despite whatever Trump may claim---the majority of us have to battle it in ourselves first.
*One was refusing to take the right-away she legally had; the other was trying to take a right-away she logistically did not have.