The Makings of an Angry BLACK Woman: You have to be twice as good.
11 years old. Fifth grade.
We’d just finished our Friday spelling test. I got each one of them right. I know this because I always get them right.
Just as Mr. Banks instructed, We pass them to the person sitting at the front of the row.
When they all submitted in. He spelled back the words. Some of my classmates sighed as they realized they got one wrong. But me – I rejoiced. He’d just confirmed my thoughts. I know I passed the test. One-hunnid.
Later Mr. Banks handed our spelling tests back. I hardly look at them anymore because I always know my score.
Imagine my surprise when I saw I had a 90!
Something was wrong. I KNOW I got them right. I scan the page to figure out what happened?!
Then. I notice someone had changed the “a” in realize to an “e”. “reelize”
My front seat person – directly in front of me is Cindy… I remember a lot of things, but I don’t really remember her name. You get the picture I’m drawing tho.
I didn’t know why she did it. Maybe she’d had enough of me being the star student. Either way, I was going to find out.
I yell towards him angrily, “Mr. Banks! I need to speak to you!” He looks at me awkwardly and says, “okay.”
When we get into the hall, I showed him my paper and how it was changed. Then LOUDLY, I spell “REALIZE” over and over. R.E.A.L.I.Z.E. I needed him to know right there and now – I know how to spell this word!
“OK, Carina!”, he says. “I believe you!”
Cindy got in trouble. Mr. Banks moved me to her front row seat. Cindy was moved to the back. I smiled at her during her relocation. I’ve always been petty.
I was the last person to leave the classroom for our outside break. On my way out, I saw her leaning against the door frame. The only exit.
This would be the first time we’re in close contact since this morning.
To go outside, I had to pass by her. I walked towards that direction. I’m not looking at her. I’m looking directly ahead.
Just as I made it do the door – she whispers one word at me. I’m sure you could guess what she whispered as I passed her. It starts with an N.
Shocked. And just as the ‘r’ rolled off her tongue – my fists were to her nose. One-two punch. Now she’s rolling in the grass crying. Screaming for Mr. Banks.
I couldn’t contain my anger. Filled with burning rage.
When she called me that word – I knew the reasoning behind her sabotaging my test. And I wasn’t going to walk away and just let it happen. I knew what it felt like to be different. To be ostracized.
To be treated differently because of the color of your skin.
This was experience #2 towards the makings of my Angry Black Woman.
8-years-old: Angry Black Woman – the awakening
We’re crowded in an uncomfortable booth. Sitting around an empty table. No menus. No water. No service. Nothing.
We’ve been sitting here well over thirty minutes. We’d just left church and decided to try Denny’s for dinner.
I’m hungry and wondering what’s taking so long.
I whine, Ma! I’m ready to eat! She flashes me a look with her eyes. Thinking, dang what did I do now? I already got popped at church this morning for playing and talking during service. So I decided to be cool.
The waiter finally comes out of the kitchen with plates of food in hand. He takes them to a couple sitting on the other side of the restaurant.
Another group of people come into the restaurant. The same waiter promptly takes their order. While watching, I hear my sister ask Ma, “Do you see that?”
I had a questions too. How can they get their food before us? We were here before them! I’m hungry! Thirsty! We’ve been here a long time! I’d been to a restaurant before and this is not what’s supposed to happen.
Ma still had this look on her face. She was really angry.
She’s cut up at restaurants before. There were plenty of places we never visited again because service wasn’t up to her standards. But this time was different. She was silently angry. I’ve never seen her look so furious before. Then I notice my older sister’s nose is turned up too. She’s also red in the face.
I’m confused…. and Starving. So I watch the couple enjoy their food.
I can’t NOT notice Ma on the verge of blowing up… Cursing under her breath.
Then the waiter comes out again – with drinks for the group that just came in.
My sister screams in his direction. “Are you going to serve us or not?!” Even then – he barely looked our way.
As if it was rehearsed – they both lost it! The cursing was no longer under her breath. They were livid. Two angry black women. Screaming and yelling at him – at them. Racist! Discriminating! We were here first! Because we’re black! And I pretty sure my grandma told him she’d drag his a**.
During the commotion, was when I noticed we were the only black people in the restaurant.
As we were leaving, I continued to watch the other people there. Now I see them as the white people there.
Strange how they were just sitting there. Watching. They had food on their tables. They were served by the waiter. They were eating. They were enjoying.
AND THEY DIDN’T SAY ANYTHING.
I really didn’t understand what happened? Or why we didn’t get any food?
I asked my still – angry black woman – grandma. She didn’t say much. Only that
Some people will treat you different because you are black. Some won’t like you just because of how you look. Nothing you did. Simply, some people won’t like you just because you are black.
We were there nearly an hour and no one acknowledged our presence. I thought back to the groups of white people sitting at their tables enjoying their food and drinks.
I wondered if they felt the same way the waiter did. If all of those people didn’t like me because I’m black – then how many more are there? Ma said some white people, but all of them didn’t seem to mind how we were treated.
That day – I felt helpless. I felt small. It was nothing that I did. I have absolutely no control over it. Being black isn’t something I can change! So why wouldn’t people like me?
Then I was angry too. Because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Trying to understand why someone wouldn’t like me before they knew me. I’ve never stopped thinking about it.
I was turned. At 8 years old I became an angry black woman (child).
More than 20 years later I still remember exactly how I felt that day. I was reminded of how I felt on that day when Cindy called me out of my name.
Every time I think about it – I see myself sitting in that booth and I get angry all over again.
It happens when I see discrimination – even on TV. It’s a documentary. I can’t watch it like a scary movie and make myself feel better by saying it’s not real. It was real and some of it is still happens today.
Constant reminders of how I felt that day in Denny’s. I felt less than a person. I felt completely defeated.
First hand proof that people will judge me and some won’t like me because of something I can’t change. The skin color I was born with.
Imagine having to explain to your CHILD why someone treated them differently. Few times I ask my Ma more about it. She’d tell me a few things about when she was younger or stories her parents told her. Sometimes she’d be little angry telling the stories.
Can you imagine – at such a young age – feeling like you’re not enough and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it? Or at any age.
Think about it. It’s crippling.
To compensate – I tried to be the best at everything I could. This is why I worked hard in school. Why I would not let Cindy defeat me.
Because, If I’m the best, maybe the color of my skin won’t matter and they’ll like me anyway. Ask Serena Williams or Gabby how that’s working out. :-/
Click to listen to Poppa Pope : You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have.
Mediocre is not an option.
I work hard – in all aspects of my life and in all things I’m passionate about. I get the job done and I mostly don’t quit until it’s complete.
But regardless of my dedication, If I really want to reach my goals I have to work twice as hard. I have to get a Ph.D, I need licensures and certifications – proof.
To be considered, I need ALL the paperwork and ALL the credentials. And even when you do, you still have to jump through hoops and yessum bigdaddys. Beg to be valued. Don’t even think of a raise. Just don’t.
Black women are the most educated group in the US, but only 2% are in leadership roles. Why? Because the sad truth is even when you are twice as good – you only get half.
Contributions to the development of my Angry Black Woman.
I have to work hard. I have to prove myself because people constantly question your credibility. And constantly defend it. They want to know why and how you got there. Proof. Degrees. Then – All of a sudden everyone wants to know your background…. Tell me about your “Moving on up to the eastside” or your “out of the ghetto” life story.
After my brawl, (sike – watch this: that bih bounced) .
Anyway after my confrontation, I got sentenced to sessions with the school counselor. This was when I learned about people’s fear and jealousy. Also about self-esteem and what they call how to “use my words”.
Most importantly, I Learned Ma was right when she said “some people”. Mr. Banks (a white man) believed me instantly. He could have pretended not to see it like the people in the restaurant. But he didn’t. He defended me when she lied. And I knew my counselor (white lady) really did care about me. Neither of them treated me differently because of the color of my skin.
The sad thing is you never forget how someone made you feel. Racism and discrimination – it’s not like you go out and look for it. It snuffs you out. It comes to find you. Seeks you out to crush your spirit.
That’s what we’re seeing all the time now. Just
last week (I wrote this around July 10th) we got a double dose of it. Those men weren’t looking for trouble. It came to find them. They were targeted because of the color of their skin. They were killed because of it. So we learned that You can comply. You can do everything they tell you and still not come out alive.
So many people were outraged when Poussey died on OITNB. Did you not realize it was symbolic of Eric Gardner? You’re angry and want to discuss something fake and how Poussey deserved better – but you can’t fix your mouth to talk about REAL men who lost their lives? **** outta here!
I can try to be my best. I can work hard. I can be the smartest person in the room. But from some perspectives, I will still be seen as a threat. Or I m ignored. So it’s hard not to go back to feeling helpless. Feeling small. Feeling defeated.
Everyday, you have to put on a show. You have to tread lightly and put on your best face. You can’t be yourself. You have to interact differently. All of this just to function daily.
They think they live in a world where the same rules apply to them.
Let a black person give a white person a little dose of prejudice and they go insane. We’ve been enduring this crap for years. But when someone treats you differently and you’ve concluded it’s because of the color of your skin – you drag their name in the mud. People who have never met this person thinks they’re “racist or rude.” Because under no circumstance can a black person treat a white person less than superior. Right?
There’s an unexplainable difference between talking about racism and discrimination and actually having experienced it.
The ignorance makes me angry. The silence makes me angry.
I never thought it would come to this – but I guess it has been underdevelopment for a long time.
Hi, my name is Carina and I’m an Angry Black Woman.
I think back to my 11-year-old self and want to punch a lot of people in the face.
It’s gotten to the point where all I have left is anger.
Nothing can defeat the silence. The silence is taking over.
Use your privilege to point out injustice.
Watch this clip if you don’t understand how.
Don’t be the customers in Denny’s watching the discrimination against me and my family. Don’t sit there and enjoy your food while I’m hungry and waiting for service.
Don’t sit around and watch people get killed.
There is no snooze button. Wake up now or stay sleep.