Fleeing into Space Away from White "Safe Space"
It is ironic that fleeing one space has driven me to another- that I once saw as a tabula rasa on which I could self-express, then which became a guilty wagging finger as it remained, in fact, a blank slate, for months. With decreasing validity of excuse.
Fleeing "safe space", both times, I grew silent.
July was the last time I posted anything on my own blog. I have written nothing of substance that I have actually published since that time, although many things have been started, then set aside with second-guessing. The decreased amount of blogging time I dedicated, instead, to contributing to someone else's space, someone else's community. A rationalized outcome seen by me at the time as the easier alternative to writing nothing at all, given how long it takes me to produce anything that I believe is of suitable quality. Others use their blogs as news aggregators, 5 or 10 or 20 pithy comments a day that catch attention but provide no real analysis, hoping that ensuing dialogue will provide that critical element. That's never been my style, though, and, since I can be nothing other than me, I published nothing at all.
That will change. Starting now.
When I started this blog a year ago, I did so out of a need to write again, having self-silenced for decades, despite writing having been at at the heart of myself as a child and young adult. I saw it as an opportunity to express self - with all the eclecticism, inconsistencies and thinking outside the box that I actually have lived. To again speak in my own Black woman's voice, free from the weight of worry about others' opinions, validation, or acceptance. How quickly that changed, and I became like those that trouble me most: willing and able to self-censor, for fear of reaction. At least until my silenced feelings boiled over I was no longer able to exercise even a modicum of self-censorship to shield the ignorant from the bombardment of their senses that comes when you finally bitch-slap them upside the head with uncomfortable truths. Unable to at that point be silent, I became instead unable to follow my instincts, and not throw myself in front of the speeding train that is the predictable white liberal response to any Black person - but most definitely a Black woman - that tells them straight on that their shit still stinks. Much as a deer in the headlights is unable to move, I was unable to follow the primary Black rule of survival: nod, smile, and STFU.
But the deer, unable to move, will die if he does not.
I am not willing, quite yet, to die. I may have fatally wounded myself in terms of public acceptance from my "friends". I may have sent my own self into emotional turmoil, worrying about their feelings as much as my own if not more. And I may have lost my way in terms of rhythm and synch, meaning that it will probably take even longer to write. I may (likely) will be writing again to the audience of one - myself.
I don't care.
One of the most important things I believe I hve been called to do is to express the truth about ongoing racism in America, such as it is, the place of Black people in America vis a vis our culture and our majority (whites and their allies) as I see it, and the role it plays, when it does, in everything from the illegal immigration debate to abortion to the ascendancy and maintenance of the time of Emperor George W. Bush. That is not to say that everything is race, no matter how many times my detractors accuse me of making it such. Rather, it is to say that racialism plays a central role in a great deal of what this country chooses to do as a matter of policy. Whether we're talking about bombing brown Iraqis to the next world in the name of giving them "freedom". Or immigration law that uses Latinos and non-American "blacks" to validate the ongoing condition of the descendants of African slaves in America. Or even the vileness of what we decide is, or is not, obscene on television.
This is not to say that I do not have political views detached from race. I believe my earlier writing has made that crystal clear. Rather, it is that I also have pretty finely developed racism antenna at this point, where unconscious racism is concerned. And, because I actually do love people, I can no longer let comfortable white liberals silence and reject out of hand what that antenna demonstrates, even if that means I'll be drawn and quartered rhetorically much like one of my heroines in the Blogosphere, Nubian of Black(A)demic was over the summer. She has bounced back with a vengeance from her self-imposed silence, a gift to the blogosphere. Me not doing so would therefore contribute to my own similar condition, our own similar condition. So I'm going to try, keeping in mind what is most important: why I blog in the first place. Borrowing prose from that wise young sister, Nubian:
I Blog Because I Need to
i blog because:
i have a voice
i have something to say
i have something to type
i do not want to be ignored, silenced, erased, avoided, negated
i do not want to become co-opted
i want to be visible
i want to be heard
It's as simple as that.
So I'm going to give myself a fresh start, and fresh voice, knowing that I will be "unsafe" in all likelihood. But if I'm going to be unsafe speaking my version of the truth anyway (and recent blog experiences make that crystal clear) I might as well do so in my own language and on my own terms. With my own words, in my own voice, but at last free from the need to tart it up for consumption by majoritarian-thinking audiences that still condition believing and agreement about things that are evident to a small child on their personal sense of homeostasis and comfort.
I'm not talking about me speaking some universal truth because I claim to know it: I don't. I am not God. I am not all Black people. Or all women. Or all bisexuals. Definitely not all parents. Heck, I'm not even all lawyers. But a dimension of my identity rests in each of those venn diagram circles. When it comes to the most difficult of these identity pieces -- race, gender and sexuality -- I only know what I have seen and experienced over 45 years on earth and know that they are the same thing as millions in the collective have also experienced, and I know that only crazy people deny what they have seen over and over and over again as the truth. Since I know that I am not crazy, no matter how much craziness other people's denial about truth (born from those ever-present evils, fear, guilt and defensiveness) evinces, I am no longer going to let needing anyone's agreement or approval stand in my way. I figure that's a pretty good start, and I will just take my chances on what flows from that, rhetorically and otherwise.
I guess I need to thank those white liberal friends who could not see that their demand for "safe space" and insistence that they are "the same and its' all about class" when discussing the issues of race and racism were inherently unsafe-making for voices of color wanting to speak the truth about our experiences and what we have learned from them. Since it wouldn't have happened without their well-meaning self-delusion, and I would not be back here in all likelihood.
We'll see if my newfound sense of purpose holds true.