Here is the thing.
Just because I am black, you do not get to ask me*:
- What country I was born in
- If I speak *insert ambiguous/non-existent language here*
- If voted for so-and-so “because he/she is black”
- If I identify as British
- If my hair is real and if you can touch it
- If I know that random black person over there
You also do not get to say*:
- “Wow, you don’t sound black!” during a phone conversation
- “You are so articulate!” with a look of extreme surprise on your face
- ”You don’t look African (what the hell does an African look like, oh sagacious one?)
- ”You are a real credit to your people/race,” as if that isn’t disgustingly offensive
- “Not to be racist but…*insert horribly racist statement here*
- ”Racism is dead,” because you happen not to experience it
* All of these things have been said to me on numerous occasions without irony.
You don’t get to culturally appropriate Native American headdresses and dreamcatchers or wear bindis because they fit in with your boho, hipster aesthetic or because you think they look “pretty” or even because you feel you have an affinity for that culture. These are not reasons. And you do not get to send out marketing emails about your new “tribal” or “Aztec” ranges of clothing and accessories when you know nothing of the history and indigenous meanings of your appropriated fashion; when you have done nothing to speak on the origins of your Aztec leggings or your tribal print dress.
You don’t get to label me as some sort of black power feminist radical because I choose to wear my hair in its natural state, without it being chemically straightened. And though I appreciate your compliments on my braids, know that when I wear them, it is about maintenance and about my culture, not about aesthetics.
You don’t get to treat me like a statistic or a stereotype and then be astonished because I am the antithesis of what you think a person of colour is.
While we are at it…
Just because I am a woman, you do not get to:
- Be offended when I tell you to stop staring at any part of my body.
- Assume I know less than you because I am a woman.
- Tell me to take your sexual-harassment as a compliment because at least “I’m pretty enough to warrant that kind of attention.” Fuck you.
- Assume that if I happen to be in a position of power, I got there by sleeping with someone or using some sort of outside influence unrelated to my ability to do the job well.
- Call me a bitch because I don’t stand for bullshit
- Reduce me to a collection of body parts
- Reduce me to a collection of body parts AND THEN EXPECT ME TO BE GRATEFUL FOR YOUR ATTENTION
- Call my femininity into question because I do not conform to your narrow-minded societal standards about what a woman should look like
- Use the way I dress as an invitation for your sexist comments, harassment or labelling
- Attribute any and every failing I might have to my gender. HUMANS make mistakes, not ovaries.
- Question my purpose in life if I choose not to procreate
You do not get to tell me that there is such a thing as “legitimate rape” or determine under what circumstances I am allowed to make decisions about my own body. Keep your proclamations about how “selfish” I am for choosing to have both children and a career to yourself. And you do not get to call me “frigid” or a “dyke” simply because I am uninterested in your advances. AS IF THOSE COULD BE THE ONLY REASONS WHY.
And here’s something novel…
Just because I am not thin, you do not get to:
- Ask me about my eating habits
- Ask me about my exercise regimen
- Wrap up your discomfort with my appearance in faux concern
- Assume all medical ailments can be magically cured by “just losing some weight.”
- Think I will be grateful for your sexual harassment or your offers of sex/dates. Lol, nope
- Expect me to hate myself or my body because YOU happen not to like it. Child please, nobody’s here to impress your hateful ass
- Point out the salad on the menu as if you’re being helpful. You’re not. You’re being an asshole.
- Typecast me in films and books as the hilarious sidekick/socially awkward sub-character
- Act surprised that my significant other is hot
You do not get to look at me with disdain because I am dressed in a way you deem only suitable for thin people or make me feel like I am somehow failing because I am not a size 0.
You also do not get to be shocked:
- When I call you on your shitty behaviour
- When I defend myself against the microaggressions you send my way on a daily basis
Above all, you do not tell me what I can and cannot be offended by or call me “oversensitive” when I am.
Or rather you get to do all of these things and worse and think it is perfectly OK because that is what privilege is. I’m not talking about money, fiscal opportunities or consumer habits; I am talking about marginalising groups of people with words and actions and thinking nothing of it simply because you do not fall into that category.
Privilege is using blackface and thinking it is acceptable because “it was not intended to be racist.” Privilege is not being set up as an example of “this could happen to you if you do not eat right and exercise.” And privilege is enduring a horrific attack and not having people insinuate that you brought it on yourself because you wore that skirt or had “one drink too many.”
Privilege is thinking that it is the responsibility of the marginalised group to EDUCATE YOU on why X/Y/Z is sexist/misogynistic/homophobic/racist/fat-phobic and extremely offensive instead of having the sense to take to Google or read a damn book.
And I for one am sick of putting up with this BS every single day.
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Stereo. 20-something aspiring bon vivant. London based. Exceptionally Nigerian. Partial to snark. My default setting is "wry". Jeans and blazers are my uniform. Landlady. Speed reader, tuneless singer, hoarder of words, drinker of Schloer; I am suspicious of most people, have zero tolerance for tomfoolery, have a vast DVD collection, worship at the altar of Al Green, own too many bottles of nail polish, have small eyes, small ears and giant hair and owe approximately 86% of my awesome to the Parents Typewriter.
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