San Francisco, California

So You Want to Talk About Race

I just started reading Ijeoma Oluo’s ever so excellent book So You Want to Talk About Race. Her writing is laser-focused and this bit in particular where Ijeoma compares white supremacy to an abusive relationship jolted me awake:

When I was in an abusive relationship, it was not just about one incident [...] before I knew what was happening, I’d be on the defensive, trying to defend my right to a relationship free of abuse. [...] But whenever I tried to step back and look at the big picture, he’d pull me down to look at a tiny piece: “See this? It’s so small. Why would you get upset about this little thing?” I could not address abuse in my relationship because I was too busy defending my right to even call it abuse.

Often, being a person of color in white-dominated society is like being in an abusive relationship with the world. Every day is a new little hurt, a new little dehumanization. We walk around flinching, still in pain from the last hurt and dreading the next. But when we say “this is hurting us,” a spotlight is shown on the freshest hurt, the bruise just forming: “Look how small it is, and I’m sure there is a good reason for it. Why are you making such a big deal about it? Everyone gets hurt from time to time”—while the world ignores that the rest of our bodies are covered in scars.