I often speak and write on racism, sexism, and homophobia as it relates to how it negatively affects me. I speak on privileges that I do not have access to and are often used against me. However, I rarely speak on how privileges that I have access to that disadvantage others in the system that I live in. The first step in understanding privileges and systems is to understand my privileges and where I stand in the system.
I am someone who others perceive as a male-identified persons, which grants me certain privileges that female-identified persons may not access to. While I do not identify as male or female, man or woman, I often go along to get along. I have used this to gain access to certain privileges to ensure that I succeed in life. This can disadvantage those who are female-identified by reinforcing the patriarchal system that I benefit from.
I am “straight acting” for the most part. Most people can not determine my sexuality based on my mannerism. Even when I wear make up, people still determine that I am straight. However, I am black. I think that my race affects how people determine my sexuality. Whether it is in a positive light or negative light depends on the person and the arena. This grants me access to privileges that are granted to heterosexuals within this hetero-normative system. Especially in a professional setting where I try to amp up my masculinity. I know I’m problematic, but baby got bills, and no one turns the lights off on baby.
I am black and American. And this is where things become blurry. I can only speak on my experiences and what I have seen. I rebuke the idea that black people can be racist towards white people. Even with the exceptions of a few black people using their power to disadvantage a few white people, it still does not count for the millions of white people who have privilege over black people. It does not dismiss the hundreds of years where black people were not counted as human beings. It does not count for the 50 to 60 sum odd years of Jim crow, extreme racism, lynchings, and racist legislation. So, white people, this does not include you.
As a black person, I can not be sure whether or not we can be racist towards other non-whites/ethnic people. I mean we are the least wealthiest racist group tying closely with Native Americans. Either way, I know when I can be rude to someone. Today I was rude to another non-white person. That is not right.
A person asked where they knew me from. They asked where I worked at, I believe. However, the first answer that comes out my mouth is a restaurant franchise that mimics the food that belongs to their assumed race group. However, this was the last place I worked at where I interacted with anyone face to face. I was debating whether or not that was the reason or was it some subvert racism that I have not dealt with. It did not seem to faze the guy, but they work in an area that is predominantly white and has not been friendly towards non-white groups, especially black people ahem. So I figure that they just brushed it off their shoulder.
Nonetheless, I felt angry at myself for it. I felt that I disrespected a person without meaning to. How could I let that slip out? Whether it was the right answer or not, I said it too easily without thinking about the consequences. I can only imagine the type of Hell I would have brought if a person did something like that to me. Like what if I asked someone where I remember them from, and their answer was that they use to work at POPEYES. Bitch I don’t even eat at POPEYES….anymore.
As well, I find that there is racism between blacks and other blacks. Black people who have access to white privilege can use this privilege to disadvantage other blacks. White supremacy is an doctrine and can be executed by anyone and anything. I have had to learn to check this within myself. I was taught early on that black was not beautiful, acceptable, friendly, peaceful, intelligent, etc etc etc. Therefore, I grew up dismissing black aspects of my life. This included my speech, the way I behaved, the television programs I watched, the friends I had, the music I listened to, and what I believed in regards to religion. I am still dealing with a lot of internalized racism as an adult. It is a daily battle, but something I am conscious of. However, I doubt that I am the only one with this struggle.
I mean look at how some of our “woke” brothers talk and act when they get mad at another black person. They use every term in the book to down that person. They use the terms nigger, coon, sambo, uncle tom, darkie, etc etc etc. This is the issue. We are so focused on fixing how we present ourselves that we never focus on the inside struggle. We want people to think we are woke and never go inside ourselves to figure out if there are any styes in our eyes we need to fix. Us “woke” people are oftentimes, more hypocritical than those church people who shout in church on Sunday, but getting fucked in the backseat of someone’s car the night before.
This brought up other ‘ism’s I have had to catch myself on. For example, I realized that I, a black feminist, still approach female-identified bodies differently than male-identified bodies. I behave more gingerly and passively towards female-identified bodies. I think that it comes from what I was taught by my dad and society. You always open the door for women, you always pull out the chair, you always stand when a woman comes to the table etc etc etc. I am subconsciously programmed to treat women differently than men. I think that it has been explained more than once that these are behaviors that many female-identified persons find irritating or backwards. It is identified as benevolent sexism. It is something I am consciously checking. And no, I am not slamming doors in people’s face. But if I have certain courteous behaviors that I execute when encountering female-identified bodies, then I should have the same behaviors when encountering male-identified bodies.
Finally, I have homophobia programmed in me so deep by society, my father, and religion that it will take years to figure out how to fix it. I learned early on that homosexuality is something that is damned by what I understood as God and society. And it was damned by, most importantly, my father. Bless his heart because he truly thought that I was headed straight to a place called Hell. So he placed in me a fear of myself that I have yet to dismiss or exorcise. I rarely have a chance to interact with other gay people, so I am often most homophobic against myself. Like internalized racism, my internalized homophobia has been an issue for me. I have to consciously check that homophobia. I often find myself using terms like fag and sissy in a derogatory fashion as it relates to certain behaviors that I have. I sometimes I think to myself, “Stop holding your hand like a sissy Carter.” “Stop walking like a fag Carter” etc etc etc. I am the most homophobic scum in my life and I am always the victim.
Nonetheless, I need to keep any microagressions that stem from these internalized issues to myself. These are internalized systems that I need to correct and resolve before they flow out into my life. I am working daily at resolving them. But at the same time, I do not forget that I am a gay black body in this system. I am seen as a threat and have access little privilege. Even when it comes to male privilege, I still do not have access to that, being that male privilege’s true face is white male privilege. As well, I am still pretty flamboyant, and some people catch on. So I lose all hope of gaining access to male privilege in certain arenas. The same goes for if they find out that I like men. As well, I am still black. I am unwanted everywhere and seen out-of-place everywhere. If I am not there serving a particular purpose, then I am suspicious. I still deal with these issues daily. While I may have superficial privileges, I still have a lot of things that work against me daily.
What about you? Are there anything you struggle/struggled with? How did you deal with it?
cmortalx / Carter