Wassup Rachel Dolezal?

rachel dolezal, march 2, 2015, photo by cerrahi news

rachel dolezal, march 2, 2015, photo by cerrahi news

Wassup Rachel, Do you like your chicken fried, baked, or smothered in gravy? Does your family eat chitlins, oxtails, pig feet, and fried catfish? Do you put Ham Hocks in your Collard greens? Do you go to church on Sunday mornings? When the church speaks, do you say Amen? Have you ever caught the spirit when you speak from the podium? Do you twerk? Can you twerk? Have you ever been called a nigger or a nigga? Do you call white people crackers, honkies, devils, or trash? Do you speak with twang in your voice? Are you fluent in the Ebonics and Creole languages?

When you look at Black women who destroy their skins with lightening creams, what do you say? When you look at Black women who destroy their hair with relaxers, what do you say? Would you advise a little girl to go natural or wear a weave? Is your hair real or is that a weave?

Have you ever been denied a job because of the way your hair looks or the spelling of your name? Have you ever suffered racism and sexism at the same time? Do you believe American slavery is a hate crime? What do you think about a mentally ill Black veteran murdered by the Wichita police? Do you believe the massacre at the AME church in Charleston was a hate crime? What do you think about the Black Haitian-Dominicans on the brink of losing their citizenship? What does #Blacklivesmatter mean to you?

To all the Rachels in the world,

I do not have a problem with your mission to help a community that continually suffers from American oppression. I do not have a problem with your aim in educating young people on history that is not taught in schools. My problem lies in your inability to understand your own sickness.

I did not ask you those questions to receive responses. I asked because you believe that by wearing your hair in stereotypical Black hairstyles, Or darkening your skin, Or putting a pep in your step, you would achieve what.... Acceptance? Unity? Understanding? Solutions?

Rachel, a definition of a Black woman is not by the color of her skin, The texture of her hair, The hood she grew up in, The thickness of her lips, Or the box that she checks on a job application.

The definition of a Black woman is complicated because there is the social construct’s definition, Then a cultural definition, Then a psychological definition, Then a historical definition.

I have no problem with you identifying yourself as an African (gosh, humanity began there) But, I have a problem with your attempt to identify with my experiences as a Black woman. You can never walk a thousand miles in my shoes.

Why?

Because many Black women have done what you done, Mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, who couldn’t obtain your level of success because they are Black women in a racist society.

Because many Black women have done what you done, ministers, educators, scientists, mentors, activists, doctors, nurses, and they achieved success AND never lied about who they are.

Rachel, I am no longer concerned about your ethnic origins or the integrity of your work. I am more concerned about your mental health. If you cannot see the similarities between you and the white missionaries traveling to countries in Africa, Asia, Central America, and South America with the mindsets that they are fixing the troubled natives and their problems.........

THEN YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

There is an inexplicable war against people of color, women, religious groups, young people, elderly people, the mentally ill, the physically handicapped, and poor people, and you have the nerve to conduct magic by making your ‘whiteness’ disappear? Have you ever listened to the lyrics in Kendrick Lamar’s song: “you ain’t gotta lie to kick it my nigga?” I am watching people that look like me die by the day in the hands of police officers, hate groups, and yes, mentally disturbed people that look like me and you. My peers are upset and ready to take action, but do not through the wisdom of our elders and ancestors. Can you honestly relate to my experience? Are you mourning for Charleston? Or is this all not a race issue?

Instead of speaking to crowds about the experiences of being a Black woman, or being a Black person period, maybe you should have shared your experiences of conquering identity issues. They affect all of us. They affect us to the point where people feel the need to kill others over a natural identity that America transformed into a Sick, Social, Construct.

But I guess you never had my, a Black woman's, best interests at heart.

Many wolves are adorned in sheep's clothing so I dedicated to build my arsenal of mental and spiritual weapons. When my people are attacked by imposters and enemies, #Wewillshootback.

Do not worry. This is not a declaration of a physical, violent war. Only insight into the kind of world we live in. Rachels, if you are really about it, put on REAL armor and be ready to fight for the revolution through protests, writing, speaking, and boycotting. And be ready to mourn for those we lose in the struggle for they serve as reminders that the battle is definitely not over.

Sincerely,

A. Black. Woman. Fighting for my community as I am.

Poet & Literary Critic: @Chrycka_Harper
Facebook: Chrycka Harper

Racism Remains in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Apartheid, Photo by UN Photo
Apartheid, Photo by UN Photo

SOUTH AFRICA - The World Hates me Because I am Black... Thus I will Love the World Because I am Black.

I will always remember this moment: my mom and little brother coming into the house with mail. She hands me a large envelope with the biggest smile. I quickly glance to see Howard University in big, bold, blue font with 'CONGRATULATIONS' on the bottom.

I didn't know at the time that I would be attending a premier HBCU and one of the leading research institutions in the world. My reality soon became engulfed in Black pride, Black beauty, and Black history. Professors continuously remind the student body of the academic, technological, and cultural contributions by African people to the global network. Because of my experience at Howard University, I learned to appreciate my skin color.

I am currently studying abroad at the University of Stellenbosch in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The town is racially and economically segregated. Walking on one side of Eikstad Mall, a shopping centre, I mainly see students, the white middle class, and employees. However, the other side of the mall reveals a different story. Blacks and Coloureds fill the area while White tourists enthusiastically take pictures. The university itself is notoriously known as a racist university because of its history as an Afrikaans-only school. Even the architect of Apartheid taught at this university. So as a young Black woman, I am defying the slowly dying Apartheid-schema:

WHITE = GOOD & SUPERIORITY; BLACK = BAD & INFERIORITY

Stares continuously confront me as I walk through the streets of Stellenbosch. They range from genuine curiosity to a loaded question of “why are you here?” However, I must mention that the stares vary by the perpetrator's color (I am using color to make a claim and demonstrate my observations; I am not aiming to generalize nor to negatively portray South Africa and its people). White people look with curiosity, fascination, objectification, lust, and a complex, deep-seated hatred and contempt. Coloureds glare at me as if I remind them of a Black perpetrator in their past (Blacks and Coloureds do not have an amicable relationship mostly due to the systematic marginalization of Coloured placed slightly above Blacks - similar to the history and relationship between Blacks and Latinos in America). Black Afrikans stare at me with … well... I would argue curiosity, disgust, and confusion.

Does my natural Afro, American accent, and African-Native-American-European mixed features evoke a 'stop-and-stare' reaction in a non-American country?

Of course.

That would definitely be the acceptable explanation if these stares were solely genuine curiosity.

But they are not.

The actual is not the main issue. I do not favor staring because of my experiences in childhood. Staring is a natural phenomenon that will never disappear; I accept that. The main issue is what lies behind the staring that is not spoken, but clear: a covert global campaign promoting Black inferiority.

Everywhere I turn I see Black women destroying their natural hair with non-stop weaves, wigs, and braids. The Afrikan cultural traditions of decorating one's head with flattering hair-dos and wearing clothes that demonstrates one's roots and status became replaced with conflicting European standards of beauty. Like diamonds in the rough, I see Black people retain their heritage through their language, dancing, and the undying dedication towards Ubuntu. But this is overshadowed in Stellenbosch. Even if I travelled to Afrikan places that fought against the damaging effects of colonialism; like a mouse, it silently scurries in and conveniently leaves droppings as a reminder of its presence.

Ultimately, I travelled from an HBCU bubble, Black pride island back into the real world. A world that constantly reminds me that it loathes my skin color and anything associated to it. At every restaurant, I am confronted with “you don't belong here and should never belong here.” At a club, I am asked for extra identification. At the bar, several customers are served before me. In stores, I am monitored but not helped. From tourists, I am greeted with a traditional Afrikan language. To others, I am worthless until my American origin graces their ears. These experiences have truly influenced my study abroad journey. However, there is one that moves my soul to tears: the contempt for Black Americans from Black Afrikans.

Howard reminds me that I have brothers and sisters in Afrika and in the Afrikan diaspora, yet I believe the feeling is not mutual. A Black-American girl from Boston told me that in her conversation with some Afrikans, she mentioned that she identifies herself as African-American. To her surprise, she was met with laughter and a firm “you are not Afrikan.” We can always debate on 'what is Afrikan,' but the disregard of our historical bond disturbs me. Clearly the definitions of Afrikan, Black, isiXhosa vs. isiZulu, Zimbabwean vs. South African are significant to most. Yet, all hope is surely not lost.

One of my best days spent in South Africa was at Mzolis in Gugulethu, a township. My flatmates, Christine and Alyssa, and I were chilling in a lounge with Afrikan men watching a soccer game . Our passionate, young 'tour guide' stopped all conversations to remind us that our ancestors were taken from Africa for the slave trade; however, everyone in that room are brothers and sisters. The men instantly agreed and jokingly identified our African origins based off our physical appearances, mannerisms, and speech. Apparently, I am undeniably South African, but it is a debate between Xhosa and Zulu origins.

In coming to South Africa, I was reminded of the world's hatred for Blackness. But I also experience the community's love for me. South Africa presents me the challenge to love my existence. It shows me the remarkable diversity of Africa and Africans. As I prepare to return to America and Howard University, I shall remember this:

The world hates me because I am Black, Thus, I will love the world because I am Black, I love the world because it is Black, And that will never change.

Follow Chrycka on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Poet & Literary Critic: @chrycka_harper

This post is dedicated to my Black sister, Christine Smith, that shared the experiences described in this post in our semester spent in South Africa.