Sunday, November 11, 2007

nooses

I got an email this morning from a black woman Christian writer.

The upshot of the email is that we black women must be very careful how we use our blogs and cyber talk because the powers-that-be in the (white) world will use our own words to make nooses and hang us.

She suggested I be very very very careful about what I say and how honest I am because white people have a great deal of power. A black person, therefore, must know when to be quiet. You know: the old "be very careful about being too honest with white folks because they'll just think you're bitter or angry or uppity" warning.

Ah gee. I hear what she's saying. And she's probably right. My problem is this: I have battled fibromyalgia for 23 years. For instance all this week I slept maybe two or three hours each night. And last night I went to bed at 9 and woke up two hours later at 11:30 and was up all night. Typical. Fibromyalgia has a lot to do with stuffed down anger. Plus my son has had to battle non-verbal autism. And try being sleepy and handling that kind of thing during the day. I'm 48 and I truly believe that because I personally tend to stuff down what I think I have destroyed my health. I really can't afford to stuff things down anymore.

But even so... I'll be careful in the future. I'll try to put my thoughts about my personal issues only in my books. As my friend warned.

Black women are always telling each other what to do for our own good. It's stifling and I'm sure this "protecting you from yourself" kind of warning has perversely been the cause of major illnesses in our bodies. We make each other ill by forcing each other to be silent in order to preserve each other's health and livelihood. And honestly, I felt this horrendous wave of tiredness and rebuke flow through my body as I read through her email. Reminded me of all the silencing stuff that got pushed down my throat when I was being raised by my Methodist minister grandfather. I tell you...black folks rebuking other black folks (however gently) are responsible for ruining moods, health, and projects.

Of course, there are certain kinds of people in the world who get really uncomfortable when they see someone who doesn't quite conform to standardized behavior. I had a friend once whose clothes always matched. Always. Once she visited me wearing yellow socks, yellow, shirt, and a yellow headband. Honestly, except for her jeans, she looked like a gigantic banana. She wanted me to go somewhere with her. But first...she wanted me to change. I had on a purplish shirt and greenish jeans. "You don't match," she said. As if the fashion laws were as unchallenged as the cosmic spiritual laws. I didn't answer her back. (I told you: I allow folks to tell me what's wrong with me but I rarely tell them what's wrong with them.) But I did think she was seriously rigid.

So yeah, it might be that this advice-giver is someone who is closed off and simply freaks out whenever she deals with folks who she considers odd. And black women are notorious for reining in folks they think are "not behaving right." Personally, I think the world is too full of black folks hiding their hearts from white folks. But maybe, like Anne Frank, I still trust in the kindness of human nature.

Even so I'll be careful about how I speak about my own issues in the future. And I'll be very very very careful about what I reveal to white folks.

I've never been an advice-giver because I understand how wounding it is to a person's soul to be "lectured" but I tend to kow-tow when someone gives me "advice" for my own good. And to prove my point, while i read her email I deleted all the personal rants on any blogs I'm connected to. It might make my blog a bit safe and bland...but it'll make me safe too. At least that's what my friend says. And we who are in a fibromyalgia battle value our emotional safety.

Thanks. -C
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