Words with Friends

In and other uncomfortable topics, Lawyer Problems, Race, Somewhat disjointed rant... on August 19, 2013 at 1:43 am

My apologies to everyone with whom I play Words with Friends, What’s the Phrase, and Ruzzle.  I just tried to “calm myself” by playing Ruzzle and found 12 words. That’s bad. Very bad. Particularly for a (to be) lawyer.

I’ve written before about being Black. Today, I realized (after reading an excellent post on Black Girl Dangerous by Mia McKenzie) that I usually preface my posts about race with a little wind-up. A little bit of a running start that says “yes, I’m Black, but I’m not overly pissed off about it and I don’t feel that I’m generally treated unfairly and I’m not trying to be scary and I’m not trying to make you feel like you are racist and, if you are Black, I’m not trying to make you feel like we have to agree and I totally voted for POTUS Obama but not just because he’s Black and I’m smart and well educated and my family was working class and I wear my hair natural except for the times when I don’t and I just wanted to write this post and I felt kind of like I needed a preface and here is the rest of post.”

I’m angry with myself because I have not, in 31-almost-32-years, found a way to be comfortable with being Black and being a Woman and having the opinions that I have.  I always feel like I should explain how I grew up and where I grew up and how I look and how I sound and who my friends are and what my politics are and what my religion is and how all that fits together.

I’m angry with myself because I’M ANGRY. I’m angry that I am angry about being angry–that is to say: I am uncomfortable with my own anger. I’m angry that I code-switch. I used to do it almost instinctively without a thought–and thought I was doing myself and everyone else a favor. I’m now more cognizant of it and more careful about it.  and it hurts me more when I do it. I can feel my mouth slowing down and my “-ing”s getting crisper and my vowels shortening and my body language contracting.

I’m angry that, at times when I force myself NOT to code switch, I feel like I am being a caricature and I feel like I stick out like a rose in concrete.

I’m angry that, at times when I DO code switch, I feel like a traitor. Does anyone else feel like that? I don’t know. No one talks about it. And, that makes me angry. In my suit with my pumps and my briefcase and my clutch bag, sporting my fancy grammar and SAT vocabulary: I still feel like a caricature. You know what a caricature is, right? Sharp lines, exaggerated features, almost realistic but just not quite.

I’m angry that I even have to think about code switching. I’m angry and frustrated and annoyed that I have to evaluate my neck movements, my eyebrow movements, my hand movements, my tone, my inflections, my clothes, my hair to figure out what it all means to the observer.

The observer. Not me.


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