I spend a good amount of my spare time on the internets (no typo-I love Lauren for this) and I am a people watcher, so this post comes from something yet nothing in particular. Authenticity seems to be something everyone pushes yet is there really a way to tell. I expect almost everyone online to be presenting a version of who they believe themselves to be or who they WANT to be or a mix somewhere between the two. Some people are completely grounded in who and what they are and others are not. What is more worrisome is that many people put us in a choke hold about who and what we can and can’t be, based on who and what we have presented or even worse based on who they believe us to be. They have written our stories before engaging in conversation with us.
It’s worrisome sometimes, because for me who I am is a twirling tornado of nothing but contradictions. I am book who does not indeed match her jacket (notice I didn't say cover). Who I am changes as I gather information on things and develop myself, I believe it is called growing or evolution. As someone who is not concerned with boxes for me or people I meet, the backlash of social media is sometimes troubling. You see, I am some what of a thinker, or at least I believe myself to be. The older I get the less I judge any one, because the longer I live the more I see it’s easy for some things to happen to some people. It by no means excuses wrong, for wrong is wrong, however when we can we should view wrongs in the context of life with lenses of humanity applied. While I am sure there are a handful of things that will never happen to me, they’re also a shit load of things that could happen to me and the only reason they probably didn't was because, like Helen Baylor, I had, and still have, a praying grandmother.
I always remind myself I am not greater or better than anyone and conversely they are no greater or better than me. To me that is where my authenticity lies. I am unapologetically the best me I can be today, some days I’m better than others and well that is just life. I got into this habit in my late 20’s of questioning my hate/love for things. You know playing the devil’s advocate of why I believe things I do, who told me what I believe and what was their agenda for sharing, what things I believe come from MY experience, why do I think this about that. I started asking myself are there facts to support my views or is it just something I believe because someone I know, love, and/or respect told me it was so. When I come up with my opinions of something they are usually thought out, but always up to be changed. I do not ever want to be as static as someone who believes what they believe and does not want to hear opposing views. I don’t want to believe that we can change folks by not listening to or trying to understand an opposing view. The minute any one tries to “help” some one with out loving/listening to who that person with the differing view is the minute we lose.
It’s the minute we become preachy to that person. It’s the minute we assume a “my way is the best way” posture. And it’s hard for me to look at people do this to others while it’s being done to them. We are often caught in a world where we as blacks are both oppressed while we oppress those with in our communities. Oppression is a slippery slope where those being oppressed become so happy to oppress someone else that we forget the sting of oppression. However oppression is power and nothing feels as good as power to those who were kept from power & liberation. I see it everywhere. I see it between black men and women, black educated and black uneducated, black upper class and black lower class; actually I see it in all black errythang. We are so busy trying to tell others what they need to do we can’t even give America a collective voice that says she in fact is the one who needs to shape up. We are so busy in fighting with out listening. Pointing fingers at others and pulling skeletons out of closets that we fail to have healthy dialogue to move us forward. When something is touted as wrong or bad we are so quick to jump on the “do better bandwagon” that we are shouting at people from our glass penthouses and diamond encrusted Tide boxes instead of listening to the hows and whys of how people got to where they were and offering healthy solutions in a dialogue.
Nope we are quick to hop on what ever is selling to make a buck, instead of listening to why people are doing what they are doing and being who they are being. We are not listening to one another. Some of us believe that black is a monolith except for us, you know we are always the exception. “They ain’t talking bout me!”
We have opted to stay disjointed and because of THIS we stay unpowerful, not powerless, as a race. We’ve abandoned “Each one Teach one” and have moved to “This shit is all YOUR fault”. It’s problematic and worrisome and human all at the same time.
Of course I don’t know how to fix it. I barely even know how to address it. Maybe y’all can help me out here.