No Space is Safe
BY KHADIJAH WILSON, CONTRIBUTOR
In a previous piece published in this newspaper, I wrote about my journey to understanding my identity as a black woman in a white, patriarchal society. I stated how speaking out and being conscious can be liberating. I still stand by this statement.
However, in my euphoria and my sense of liberation, I neglected to portray the reality of my situation. For an instant, I felt like my say finally mattered, and I finally had a sense of agency. Sadly, though, as a 22-year- old black woman coming to consciousness, I realized I must still face what I am trying to leave behind.
The previous article that I wrote for the Echo titled “White Tears” was grounded in a “debate” I had on social media with a white man about cultural appropriation. It was one of the most frustrating arguments I have ever been in. I posted my truth about my experiences as a black woman on my own Facebook page. I was met with the labels of being sexist, race-baiting and
In the post, I stated the costs of cultural appropriation. I asserted how anything apart of black cultures such as black hairstyles, clothing, and language were being repackaged and claimed by white people as cool, trendy and high fashion. Similarly, the derogatory term “ghetto” is used to describe black people who wear cornrows or adorn their head with a dew rag, but they are exotic and fashionable when worn by white people.
I claimed that we—my generation of black young adults—can no longer afford to let this happen. I cannot let it happen. I cannot forget that when America was established, black skin and kinky hair was deemed anything but beautiful. The white man who commented on my Facebook page offered to pay me to debate him about this topic. I told him “no,” my “blackness is never up for debate”.
When offered the opportunity to write for the Echo about this experience, I did
not hesitate because, as I said before, my struggle now leads to my power. This was my opportunity to literally write my narrative, to assert how I want to be perceived related to situations like this. I would determine how these racialized interactions would go; I would not back down like I had done in my past.
Self-determination and self-affirmation are key to being a black feminist scholar. No one can contradict the truth that I bring. My moment of empowerment, reclamation and liberation were quickly changed because I felt on the defensive again. How I wanted to be portrayed in the article versus how it was edited by Echo staff altered my intentions and my viewpoint. I am well aware that the intention of editors is not to maliciously perpetuate negative stereotypes, but I urge more careful consideration when trying to edit or speak for black women: there is always a fine line between honoring our voice and negatively positioning our voices.
According to Daryl Wing Su, racial conflicts both internal and external are constant, continual and cumulative. I constantly ask myself, “how am I in the same position of having to defend myself in literally every aspect of me?”
Before college and before coming to racial conscious- ness and feelings of empowerment, I did not believe my past racial experiences to be true because I never shared my concerns with anyone. I tried to figure out my experiences with race by myself. My anger, confusion, frustration, contempt and resentment, all insidious and created my self-doubt and submission to society.
Now, I am at the point of absolute truth and I still have to negotiate, am I supposed to take, “That’s just the way it is,” as an answer?” When and where can my truth, my voice, be taken as is? Because I will not hold it in until the point of submission again.
This article first appeared in the Friday, March 31, 2017, Edition of The Echo