Monday, September 27

Self-Preservation from white people is my Political Act

by Nahje Royster

I am nobody’s good negro. I will not coddle white guilt and allow them to believe that things are okay when they aren’t[i].

I was the Undergraduate Speaker at West Chester University’s December 2019 Kente Ceremony. One of my favorite parts of my speech was:

“We cannot be cashed in when folks want to pretend to have the range to speak on our identities. We will not stifle how Black or brown we are to make anyone comfortable. We will no longer allow people to pretend to not understand what we’re saying because we’re using African American Vernacular English, of which is a recognized and accredited dialect with research to back it up. We will not stop using Ebonics, cultural slang, or any other decolonized tongue because we are not, never have been and never will be for the use and comfort of our oppressors. PERIOD.”

Black folks are not a pillow to reaffirm the comforts of white supremacy. We are not the safety blanket whites slept with as babies. We are not for the use, comfort, enjoyment, advancement, and/or consumption of our oppressors. Not now, not fucking ever. So please, let’s spare our community and our individual selves. Having said that, there are two things I wanted to focus on: the reposting of graphic imagery of Black violence and death and us acting like free search engines.

This idea of reposting the videos and pictures of white people, specifically c*ps[ii], violently attacking and murdering our folks under the guise of white’s needing to see “our reality” is  violent and traumatic.

Let’s dissect this for a second. Racism could not have thrived for centuries, slavery couldn’t have been reincarnated a thousand times, and the plantation state couldn’t have remained within the legal confines of the constitution if white people were unaware. These killings are nothing new. It’s just less traditional plantation and more mass incarceration and police shootings with lynchings on the rise again, too. You do not create an intricate system of oppression like the one Black people live within and not know what you are doing. Trust me, the whites know. They know and they ignore it, just like the alleged “good” c*ps ignore their bad counterparts. White women ignore it just as they ignored their rapist, slave-owning husbands, in fact, they weaponize it against us constantly. White women weaponizing c*ps and their men against the Black community is proof that they’re aware of the issue– but we aren’t humans to them so they don’t care.

Many of us know at least one non-Black person of color or white person who is with the shits, so have them pass the videos around in their circles to spread awareness that way. The message, awareness, can be spread without it being at the expense of communities like Black Twitter. What we also have to address here is that by thinking we are raising awareness, we are assuming they give a fuck about us. We are assuming that they will see the violence (which they already do) and start making change (which they never do). We cannot expect the majority of whites to deliver us from the chains that produce their privilege, superiority, and supremacy. Remember, these are the same people that still support the confederacy, elected 45, and ate tide pods[iii]. Should they be doing the work? Yes, 100% but it’s essential to our survival to be careful of how we get them to that point because it can’t continue to be in ways that cause us generational trauma. Which brings me to my next point.

Know this, your name, my name, no one’s name is Google, Bing, Yahoo, or Free Library of Philadelphia (hey Philly natives). Therefore, tell these colonizers that if they care so much but not enough to pay you for your emotional labor somehow, that they need to do research on their own time on one of the many free search engines that exist. It takes a toll on our emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical wellbeing to be free Racism 101 educators. Which is ironic, because we end up teaching our oppressors how they oppress us over and over again, just for them to sometimes tell us we’re lying, or it doesn’t matter anymore. 

Many of us attended predominantly white institutions, where we sat in classes with the Apple Pie Kappa frat bros and the Beta Chai Frappe sorority sisters of the world. We listened to them mock slavery because of their Irish background or because their family started out poor. It was exhausting doing mental gymnastics, sometimes against the professor as well, to explain why and how slavery still exists, racism is real, and Black people are nothing but objects here.

And what did we gain? Nothing. If you’re like me, you cried a few times, yelled a lot, and lost a ton of faith in humanity. Everyday life isn’t university and you aren’t in a mandatory class. Our emotions are not to be taken lightly, our experiences are not to be poked and prodded, and we don’t owe anybody shit. If white really want to know, they will continue to look for answers after they’re turned away. If not, they weren’t truly invested anyway.

In conclusion, fuck this shit. This country and these people milk us dry, run us ragged, and strip as much of our humanity away as possible. This country was built on us—our BIPOC[iv] ancestors have already given blood, sweat, and tears. We are still giving blood, sweat, and tears at every protest. The least we can do is say no from time to time and preserve our mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing as much as possible.

There is no revolution if we burn out. We cannot allow them to think they’ve won.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” -audre lorde

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