Hey, y’all… this past week was pretty uneventful except for one thing… I basically told all of my friends, family, and loved ones that I no longer tolerate intolerance around me.
Now, this may not seem like a big deal, but it pissed some people off. A couple people took it pretty personally, like I insulted them by speaking MY truth.
Edit: Notice there how I didn’t say THE truth? I said MY truth. Because I’m aware that everyone live their own lives and their own issues. But facts of my existence are facts of my existence.
And you know what? That’s going to have to be ok. Sure, when I did it, I was pretty pissed off. However, I did my best to keep it classy, not naming names. From there, if people assume that I’m talking about them, that’s on them.
Also, if the shoe fits…
Shit I Did Last Week #1: Stop Letting People Shame You Into Not Speaking Your Truth
Since I’ve decreased the number of posts I write each week to one, I thought it might be fun to turn it into a series called…
Shit I Did Last Week…
To be published every Wednesday.
Because I’m a fucking shut-in and only get down to the coffee shop on the days I’m not working, I figure this will give me some incentive to get out and actually do things…
… fingers crossed!
Back to Business
Ok, before I start rambling, like I have a tendency to do, lemme get into this post.
I stood up for myself this week in a way I never thought I’d be able to.
For those of you that don’t know already- although I’m sure you do if you follow me on Instagram or any other social media– I’m mixed.
And for some of you, this won’t be a problem that I just brought that up. Others- probably the same ones who claim ‘not to see color’- are already tensing to ask, “Aw, man, why she gotta bring up race?”.
Uncomfortable, isn’t it?
Hm… well, I wonder what happens when you get asked, “So who’s black, your mom or your dad”, at least once a week…
… oh, wait… I do get asked that at least once a week!
See, here’s the thing… in a country where the majority population of one race is caucasian, people who fit that description get classified as “Americans”. If you don’t fit that description? You gotta check a different box. Because people are going to notice that you’re different… but that’s not enough. They want you to acknowledge that you’re different, too.
Anyway, why am I talking about this? Because choosing not to see color is a luxury that a lot of us are not afforded.
We’re not really in the habit of bringing up the thing that makes us stand out from ‘the norm’ in polite conversation. Not that we aren’t proud; I love my parents and don’t regret who they are. But it gets tiring.
People seem to talk about my skin color in regards to what’s good about it. People love that I’m so ‘unique’ as a ‘black’ operatic soprano, I’m ‘exotic’ looking, I have ‘pretty skin’. They’re ALL FOR bringing that stuff up. But God forbid I talk about what it actually means to be mixed and walking the line of two cultures at all times. Everyone feeling vastly different than you do, but they’re allowed to because you’re outnumbered on all sides.
Anyway, I have family members (on both sides) with whom I can talk pretty openly about this… and others that I can’t. Because they can’t handle my truth and their potential role in creating it.
See, some people tend to think that having certain political views shouldn’t affect how people view you from an ethical standpoint. You just have a different opinion, right?
Sometimes… but then again, sometimes not.
People are sometimes allowed to believe certain things because the dynamic that created them was never challenged. When it is challenged, they’re forced to rethink some of those beliefs… and that’s a damn uncomfortable thing to do.
But if you value the people in your life, it’s something you should do. It doesn’t go away just because you pretend it’s not there.
So this is what happened this past week…
You can’t pick your family…
Not your blood relatives, anyway. And you don’t pick who they choose to involve in their lives. And this can be tricky when bringing up diverse children in an otherwise not-so-diverse family.
I’m sorry, but it’s true. People will try to claim that their political views shouldn’t affect you, but they do.
I live in a country where being born at the wrong point in history could really suck for you and your family.
I was lucky. It was legal for my parents to get married when they met. My brother and I grew up in a diverse town where questions of race were seldom asked. But my grandparents were not so lucky.
All 4 of them were terrified when my parents got together. Because they’d seen first hand what racism could do.
Political Choices Affect Everyone
Politics have always affected everyone. They qualify what makes a human being, who gets to get married, the way the rest of your country sees you…
So don’t think that for one second you shouldn’t have to look at who your views affect. Or if politics and ideals are more important to you than people, have the dignity to admit it to yourself and others around you. Stop telling everyone else they’re too sensitive.
I have one particular family member- it’s more like 2 or 3, but this is the one that set me off- who seems to think that ‘just expressing an opinion’ doesn’t warrant backlash.
I’m guessing it’s to do with America being a free country and having the right to free speech, or something. I don’t know… I haven’t asked because it’s never a civil conversation.
Well, lately, I’ve been feeling racial tensions inside and around me rise, and I finally got sick of it.
All it took was 1 more comment from this family member to set me off. This was the result:
It was a long time coming… it wasn’t just the one comment. And I’m not the only family member who’s had to set this boundary.
Needless to say, I got some pretty powerful backlash from family members who felt like I shouldn’t have said what I said. However, I also got a lot of support from family members on both sides, because they’ve taken into account some of the things people like myself are dealing with right now. And that means SO much, you have no idea.
But here’s the thing… I was set a boundary for interactions with this person as well as others. Regardless of the fact that we live in America and have the right to free speech, if you run around treating everyone like they’re entitled to your opinion- which is another way of saying beating everyone over the head with your feelings- you’d better be prepared to get some strong opinions back.
But I’m Not Trying to Drudge Up Things From Yesterday
I set a boundary to protect me that people had been crossing for months, even years. Not totally their fault; I never set it before. But I make no apologies for making anyone uncomfortable simply by putting it in place, or even for the way I chose to do so.
For one thing, I’m a writer and a creative. I have always expressed myself through different forms of media. If it hadn’t been this IG post, it would have been a song or an entire blog post… or even a book.
These are the things that I feel deep down in my soul and if I’m always concerned about the way it looks or people not liking it, I’ll never create anything again.
Second, if people have a problem with what I create or post to my own page (or do with my own life), they can always scroll past, unfollow, or even block me like I have to do with some of them every now and then.
The reality is that you’re not always going to like what someone has to say, and you sure as hell aren’t always going to like what they have to say about you. Right or wrong, that is the truth.
I’m telling you this because I feel empowered today. I feel empowered to share with you my experiences, and I feel empowered to tell you that you have a right to feel empowered, too. And you shouldn’t allow anyone’s dislike of what you have to say to dampen that empowerment.
One reminder, though… do try to be kind when you offer someone an unsolicited opinion. You never know if you’re talking to an opinionated chick like me ;).
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