I don't have a lot of, like, value in personal stories of racism because they just don't all blend together. I literally couldn't tell you one because it's just…the whole existence of it. But I can say I just got back from Costa Rica, and we went to the Caribbean side, and it was like, all Black farmers! It was like where we were in a place developed by Black people: all Black farmers, Black people everywhere, and dreads everywhere. And – and the lack of police presence and a police state just made me really understand how much I am in a constant state of trauma. Like, driving down the road, I'm like, constantly thinking, where am I going? Why am I going there? I’m working on my story. I never realized that it was so irritating to me, and I never realized that that was my inner-dialogue all the time in public here in America until it was quieted and I was in a place where none of that stuff mattered.
So I don't really look at individual stories as much as I can see a life without this trauma, and I'm like, oh shit – this is… Everyone's going through a lot of shit. Like, everyone is constantly traveling through these different states of trauma over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. So much so that people don't even notice or realize it's an issue. Especially white people. People do not notice the perpetual state of trauma that Black people are in, and so they're like, “What are you talking about? Let us gaslight you and tell us how great we are.”
It was really good for me to be there during Black History Month, because I was literally like, fuck all of you. And anyone who has ever spoken to me with a racist connotation at some point – I just don't care to prove myself anymore or be any type of thing that I should or shouldn’t be for America.
So I've lost a little sense of community after coming back from that trip, but your first question has given me hope again. But I don't have any funny stories about what it is like to have racism used against me because it's a perpetual state of being. I can say that a life without it is far superior to having to frickin traverse this terrain every day. Every day.
I’ve got about two stories. One is more of a microaggression than outright racism, and the other is an overtly racist incident.
I was an intern down at the state capitol. You can imagine the demographics of the state capitol, and then me and I actually worked in a Republican’s office. This was back in 2008, so it was a completely different political landscape. I was there because he was the chair of the Education Committee, and I wanted to be involved in education. One day I'm sitting in a committee meeting, and I had just said something, and one of the other senators leaned over and she's like, “You sound just like Michelle Obama.” And I looked her dead in the face and I said, “Who's that?”
And she's just like – she went completely ash and white with nerves! But also, I’m like, thank you. Yeah. Like, if that's the only person of color you can think of. Thank you.
The second one actually happened on Friday night. I was driving and got hit in a head-on collision hit-and-run. I thought, this car is probably going to be totaled. At the time, I was driving my mom's car. I called my friends Shamar, Ian and EJ and had to come and meet me because I knew I couldn't call the police. And there's just something in my heart that's like, you can't call the police, you can't file an accident report. And in that moment, when the adrenaline was pumping and going through me, I wasn’t able to fully articulate why I couldn’t call the police, I just knew I couldn’t.
And EJ is your standard heterosexual man, like, brute strength kind of dude. He’s like, no, no, I'm gonna call the police. And I said, EJ you cannot call because they're gonna run the plates on my car, and they're gonna see that there is a Black man and a Black woman on this car’s records. And then all shit is gonna break loose, so do not call. Instead, I texted one of my friends at work, who has connections in the police department. She sent an off-duty officer to come and check on me and the car. He ran my plates, and he's like, “Yeah, I'm glad you didn't file an accident report because the second that you had, they would have walked away and given you fault, and you would have been paying completely out-of-pocket for everything. Insurance wouldn't have taken anything for you.”
Just because I'm Black. That was the reason.
I'm like, that’s the dumbest shit I've ever heard. But I knew…in that moment, even while I was panicking, something in me knew I could not call the police, and I did not know why. And yeah, so it's just that – perpetual trauma. It's just, it's always there. That feeling does not go away, even in your most heightened state.
I want to go first. Okay, okay. I have a story about when another person and I were working at a bar in Kansas City, and we were sitting at a table with all people of color. We were kind of having a discussion about whether or not there was racism present in the atmosphere. This bar was decorated with what looked like a terrible racist Applebee's – and it was a gay bar! So it was decorated with like license plates, and photos, and Marilyn Monroe. And then you also have your very racist like Winchester ads and all those racists type advertisements, as well as things like Native American Tobacco ads that the terrible things like worse than the real, the real advertisements are terrible, but these like weird reproductions, like glorifying them, were actually worse. And we were like, is this bar owner racist? Is he screwing us over? Is this happening? And we literally are, like, look over, we all see something from our own identity on that wall in a disgusting portrayal. It was just, I don't know, it was really weird. And it's still hard to talk about. I posted on Facebook about how that experience made me feel, and how I thought that we were being excluded from that community. But I got so much hate from it that I literally left the online community completely. I totally withdrew from my community, like, people mocked me for even saying it might be a problem. It was just awful, honestly.
Misogyny and racism are everywhere. I have encountered incredibly racist people even at my workplace, you know what I'm saying? And then they have the gall to critique me about my professional appearance or something.
They just feel a shift. All they do is steal our ship. Black people – we built this shit. Like, the only reason there's any infrastructure in America is because we built it. My ancestors built it with their their fucking hands. And so you can't tell me anything. You can't give me anything that's not already mine. And that is just where I stand.
Time to get over that. I'm a Black woman. So I'm already labeled as an angry woman who doesn't matter. And I'm educated. No one seems to give a damn because I'm an angry black woman. So I'll sit there in a room and just stare at people and make the good old black girl face like, you know, you're dumb. You should stop talking. And finally, my boss was like, you can't make that face anymore. You need to make a different choice.
So if you aren't gonna say it, and everybody's thinking that I'm gonna say it, because you told me I couldn't make them. So, exactly. Yeah. So thank you for that good performance evaluation, because it really helped me come out of my shell and just tell people what I actually think.
Control. We understand subtleties like the people of the land, people who don't have books and education, yada, yada. Subtleties far surpass all these people who think education is what makes you a thing like I read all the time, right? I'm reading constantly to try to figure out how to help people give birth better. I'm a doula. So I help people and ask teachers how to help people. And what I find is just all this shit in the way. And no one, like no one, wants you to get inside. No one wants you to know that you can live off of this land or that you could literally find every bit of food that you need out in the forest right now. Go take a walk at the Audubon State Nature Sanctuary, and there's your dinner. But they don't want you to know that because they don't want you to know that, like, you can be anything and do anything, because they know that you work harder than them and that you have a lot more intellect and understanding of this stuff. They have been relying on books, and other people's opinions, and other people's education and all of this stuff. Everytime I'm reading something, I'm like, oh, this is a reminder, but how do I know this? Right? Like, how do I already know this? And like, I'm trying to take something in literally, like it's always a reminder, you know? Everything you have for your life's purpose is here. You can have tools to help you get there and you can use education as a tool to help you get there. But even that's a construct. Yeah, so even someone else telling you these steps, you already have them.
Right? My husband and I were just talking about this yesterday because he is building a foraging business. So he thought foragers, mushrooms, he's like, very awesome. So he's building this business. He's very, like, calm and keeps to himself. So I've been trying to tell him, you need to educate the public on this, and you know, whatever. So I've been showing him all these Instagrammer, and yesterday, she was talking about the fact that her name on Instagram is “Black Forager.” And someone commented on her stuff saying, like, “I love your content. I love that you forage and do all this stuff. I learned so much. But I just do not understand the obsession about your race.” And my husband was like – well everyone is obsessed about my race. Like that's literally what it is. Everyone's been obsessed about my race, every room I've walked into, or every time I've tried to learn about origin or learn about foraging. I am the only Black person in the room, so how is my race the most relevant part of this?
She said that Black people for years, for hundreds of years, were scared of lynching. Like, they couldn't just go out by themselves into the forest because they could just be like… And my husband was like, no way. He just, he – And he was just like, no way. That's not why and he couldn't even wrap his head around it. But there is some truth to it. She really educated me on the development of trespassing laws, because those were developed after slaves were freed so that slaves could not survive. It was literally developed so that they cannot live off of this land. They can't own land, find their food, so they have to rely on us for this. Right. Right. What you said about the inner city, too, they moved us all into the city. And so there's no access to this land, which is where our knowledge lies. That's where we lived for, you know, 200 years trying to figure out how to survive and take care of our people and, you know, deliver these babies black and white. You know, we're doing all this shit off of the earth and from the universe, and we're like, let's take this all away, then let's give them these breadcrumbs so that they feel like they're getting something when none of that matters. We don't need any of that shit, don’t need anything that they give to us.