Unfortunately, opening myself up to African American history and online culture was eye-opening, sometimes enjoyable, illuminating, but I'm not sure if it has made me a better person. Maybe it has made me wiser because now I now what I don't have to be and what it important. Today it feels like I am back the way I was before in high school, when I was free, so I have come full circle. Was my venture into AA culture worth it or would I have been better off not venturing into that arena? Understand though, that my venturing did not involve physically living in the US, this great impact was made by simply reading texts, reading blogs, and interacting with people online! What you read can really affect your thinking.
So I am asking myself if all the reading I did made me better or worse as a person. Was I better off before I ventured into the AA section of the library and started reading? Was I better off when I wasn't reading about controversial AA issues and activism? Online people would always say "know your history" but was I studying my history, or was it really someone else's history that I read because I could not find my own? Well I guess like any sort of experience or study this experience has changed me. I know about things I did not pay attention to before. Instead of thinking, 'I don't know anything about that' I can now think, 'I've heard about that' or 'I remember when something similar happened before'. So I guess I can value that lack of complete ignorance.
But this knowledge came with a negative side effect, It made me feel like a victim, like I had been wronged, life was going to be bad for me, I was disadvantaged, people hate me, people in my life are going to betray me because I'm Black, I'm unattractive, there is something wrong with me and I didn't know it, and I should always be angry. It's as though I was feeling okay and then found out I had a horrible disease I didn't realize I had:
- I was told all the horrible symptoms I had never noticed and had never interfered with my life.
- I was told this disease was the cause of all my life problems.
- The disease was incurable.
- I had to get it under control before I spread it to my future children.
- This disease will destroy the Black race.
- And guess what, the disease was given to me by White people through slavery, racism, and discrimination! So suddenly I had a horrible incurable disease, purposefully given to me by "The Man", that had a host of symptoms (that were supposedly already hurting me or would hurt me sooner or later).
Fortunately, there was a cure pedaled by many a charlatan (perhaps well meaning). They were so helpful in pointing out my symptoms and telling me then and there to take my medicine before it was too late! The cures was the following:
- Being hypervigillant about everything The Man did and constantly see myself as a victim. This included complaining and being outraged about past horrific deeds (because they are having an impact on the present) and being outraged by everything overtly racist. In order to do this I had to constantly expose myself to the most horrible things in history and the news. Doing otherwise would mean I was being ignorant, ignoring my history, being a passive part of the problem, or not caring.
- Suspecting racism and a slight everywhere. I had to be offended and angry when The Man did not include dark-skinned Black women in the media. I also had to be offended if those women were fat, unmarried, adulterous, not chosen by the lead character, or were flawed in any way. I had to be angry if Black women were not on runways for White designers, leading more White-owned companies, in more commercials for White-owned companies, leading more White produced written shows, leading more White produced and written movies, winning more White- created awards. I had to be angry they didn't include BW because that was racist. I had to be constantly angry Black people didn't own more or have more power.
- I had to be offended if The Man did or said anything negative about Black men. It didn't matter the circumstances or what the Black men did because racism against Black men was racism against all Black people (solidarity right?). I had to be concerned about the Prison Industrial Complex and men (who often made neighborhoods dangerous and victimized Black women) were getting long prison sentences for crimes they actually committed. It could happen to my brother or my father so I had to be mad in solidarity. I had to excuse their misdeeds or questionable choices because they are just victims of The Man.
- I had to question every choice I made and every preference I had because being brainwashed accelerated the disease. I had to make sure my preferences for my hair, make-up, the attractiveness of women, the attractiveness of men, fashion, music, television, books, and activities were "Black". My preferences for education, speaking a certain way, marriage, children in wedlock, and interracial dating were all signs that I was brainwashed and a horrible prognosis. This meant choosing the Blackest of Black everything. I had to prefer the darker actress who was darker than myself, I had to prefer the hair with no curl pattern when I have coils, I had to prefer the shows/films with dark skinned actresses who where married, I had to choose African or AA clothing, I had to prefer hip hop or R&B etc. Before making any choice I had to ask myself , "How will this impact the Black community?"; "Am I doing this because I have been brainwashed by the Eurocentric media?"; "Is this a sign of self-hatred?". Depending on the answers I could feel good about my choice or chastise myself for helping The Man cause my own destruction and the destruction of my entire race.