|| I Never Wanted to be The Angry Black Woman||
When my parents raised my siblings and me, they taught us the importance and value behind seeing ourselves as whole, precious and unique human beings. Each of our names represent a specific season in my parents or my family’s life as a whole and are road marks and reminders of Gods goodness. Arielle, as most of you know means Lioness of God and it has taken me 23 years and I’m sure the rest of my life to really know what that truly means. We were raised to value education, to believe that we were capable of doing whatever it is we set our minds to, we were shown how to love and be loved well in return. We understand the gifts and abilities that we’ve been given and equally given the freedom to explore, harness and embrace them. We did not grow up wealthy but we “live a life of manna” as my mother would call it, a life leaning and depending on the provision of God and he never fails to provide exactly what we need and when we need it.
It was when I got to college that I first had moments where I, Arielle Estoria Leda Wilburn in addition to being artistic, a lover of words, people, coffee, photos and sunflowers, was seen as black more than she was anything else. It wasn’t until I got to college that me being an African American woman was something to focus on, pinpoint, and remind me as if I wasn’t aware of it already. I experienced what ignorance looked like, some who were aware of it and some who were not. Having to tell people that no, I don’t have cancer? I wear a head wrap at night to keep this hair as luscious as it is. No I don’t use terms like sista and gurl now that my hair is in twists. I went on a blind date and was put in the same category as ordering black coffee, strong, tall and black. I was talked to negatively for not attending every Student association event on campus and equally for being a part of “mainstream leadership” because only white people have the ability to take a ten day trip in the wilderness and embrace the simplicity of nature (which I’m not going to lie…I thought this was true for awhile and then I did it and I said whelp…this has absolutely NOTHING to do with my skin tone, its just hard and almost like self inflicted pain). I was told that I was "pretty for a Black girl", called "white-washed" or told that I was a "white woman trapped in a Black Woman's body" and experienced what it felt like when your skin color was the person and that was all people could see.
I have always been quiet when it comes to race and diversity.
The attempts on campus to bring awareness sometimes did more harm than good. It was clear that I was African American, why did I need a giant A on my chest to be reminded of it or to make sure others were aware? The recent events in our world however… has rattled me a lot and I can't help but throw my voice out into the abyss as well. My heart breaks in a thousand little pieces with the current events circling our news today and I find myself praying just a little bit harder that my brother doesn’t have to grow up in a world that automatically sees him as someone who is dangerous. The thought of the man that I am dating turning just a little bit too quickly and someone finding him a threat. That my father in all his big and bear like qualities would hold his Bible in a way that could seem just a little off. That my mother praying in a church could not have another moment after, I am terrified for every one of my sisters, that their potential would be boxed into a perception placed on them by others and not given even a moment to shine. I am saddened and hurt when I walk past a vehicle and hear the lock of someone’s car as if any thought of harm had crossed my mind while doing so.
I’ve stayed silent; because I never wanted to be the “angry black woman”
I didn’t want to make people feel like they had to apologize for something their ancestors did, I didn’t want to make people uncomfortable. But I think the only way change will happen is if we are so uncomfortable that it compels us to do something because something has to change. Racism is rearing its ugly head and its not being shy about it. It is loud and it is roaring underneath us and we have to stop ignoring it.
I posted on Facebook earlier that this is about race and it is about hate and it is about the fact that lives are being taken because people are taking their own bias and judgments and making decisions off of them that affect the entire world. This is about black lives and them not mattering. This is about black lives and the perspective that somehow despite the same blood, flesh and bones... we are considered less.
I’m not asking you to feel guilty; I’m not asking for apologies, we have to be aware. We can’t be silent, all silence does is throw crap under the rug BUT THE RUG IS TOO SMALL now. It is terrifying, that we can continue living day to day and not be affected in someway by this. Do you have blood pumping in your veins? Does your heart reverberate the rhythm of life? Then yes, this is about you too, then yes you’re supposed to feel something, feel the disruption of nine families lives and sudden shift of grief that has taken place. There is such thing as privilege, the abuse of it, the neglect of it and the misunderstanding of why you actually have it in the first place.
With grace, oh my… a lot of grace, with love and every prayer that we can muster both big and small there has to be redemption in this. Nine lives are no longer on this earth and many many more that haven't even been and won't be publicized. Death is inevitable but hate isn’t, do something, say something, pray more…
don’t stay quiet; it’s time to speak.