I need to interrupt your newsfeed for this quick alert: black people are tired.

 

I shouldn’t speak for everyone but as for myself; I am TIRED of being a woman of color, in the age of social media. I am tired of listening to you debate the lives of black males at the water cooler, and I am tired of trying really hard to be unoffensive in my approach, while Larry loose lips shoots from the hip every chance he gets.

 

Do you know how many articles I have read in the past several months on confederates? I am not from the South. My hair frizzes in the heat. I don’t care to read essays on the battle flag, and yet I have to. That is the burden I carry in the old U S of A. I have to read articles on who Robert E. Lee was and what he stood for, just so I can know what I am talking about when I interject on your comment thread. I don’t want to be a troll. I want to like your baby pictures and keep scrolling like everyone else. But when I run the math, and recognize that not one person out of your 1200+ friends has paused to explain to you why your post would be taken offensively, I have to assume that I may be one of the only people of color on your entire network. That is the burden of the minority. We can’t just represent ourselves. We constantly think about the population we identify with, and how certain views could further marginalize an already marginalized group.  And so even though we are tired, we.keep.posting. Because we recognize that while Facebook may not be the best vehicle to explain racial prejudice, at this moment, it’s what is in our control.

 

I have purchased 2 books this year by Martin Luther King Jr. I am not an African American History major. I don’t typically thumb through biographies of civil leaders in my spare time. I like to watch trashy reality television just like everyone else. But when people are out there misappropriating various citations of the man who represents peaceful protest in this country, I have to be able to provide you with a footnote. I may not change your opinion, but my digital footprint throwing a wrench in your ignorance parade, may strike a chord with those who are simply passing by. And so I coax my tired fingers into typing one more time.

 

I am not the only person I know doing this. Just this morning I read through a comment thread on the NFL protests. I saw a girl I know reference the United States Code Title 36 Chapter 10 section 176. This is a Facebook thread not a glossary of legal terms. She is an elementary school teacher, not a district attorney. And yet I understand her burden. We don’t want to be combing through court filings, but we don’t know how else to stop the madness.

 

Another black friend who is a social worker started trying to explain that Rosa Parks wasn’t actually protesting public transit, just as Colin Kaepernick isn’t protesting the United States Flag. We have full time jobs people! No one wants to keep feeling the need to circle through the internet trying to carefully and considerately explain these positions. It’s exhausting. I won’t speak for all my fellow people of color out there, but as for this token, I am TIRED.

 

I’m tired of having to pretend like things aren’t connected to race, that are so clearly connected to race. I am tired of carefully selecting all my words so that I don’t make a sweeping generality that will prevent you from understanding how privilege works. I am tired of how deeply polarized our political climate has gotten. As if we are more Republican than we are human beings. I don’t think who you vote for in an election should be so deeply knitted into the fabric of who you are. But right now it feels like we are all worlds apart.

 

All I know is this; as a biracial woman in this country, who is blessed to have both white and black family members, and who’s blood is literally the culmination of two racial histories, I can assure you, THIS CAN WORK. We can all get along. We can step outside of our own experiences, and acknowledge the truth in someone else’s. We can see each other, and value each other’s differences. My family does it. My husband is white, my sisters husband is Asian, my father is black, and we all get along just fine. Seriously. The only time we fight is during an intense round of Scattergories.

 

Please, think before you post. Try to think about how your friends of color feel as they scroll through your timeline. And if you don’t have any friends of color, should you really be commenting on the experiences of minorities? Sidenote: Having a black friend online, is not the same as actually knowing, loving, and nurturing deep relationships with people of color. Just because Tyrone accepted your friend request, does not mean you are now able to tell us how minorities should think and feel.

 

Do you know how awkward it is to see you in person, and pretend like I didn’t just see what articles you were sharing? I am learning the value of trying to swallow, even if you want to spit. I truly believe in fighting darkness with light. So I’ll keep brushing up on the chronology of the NFL and saying, “bless your heart,” even if I don’t mean it. I want to get to a place where I do. But the struggle of being a minority right now in this country is TIRING.

 

BTW I know it’s not just blacks who are tired of blatant racial bias and privilege. I have been seeing more and more white, Asian, Hispanic, and Indian people trying to carry this burden too. To you all, I say thank you.  Thank you for shouldering the burden.  Together we can keep moving forward, even if social media pushes us back. This is a country I am proud to live in, because of the diversity that embodies it.

 

We can be tired. We just can’t quit.

 

Heather Thompson Day is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Andrews University. She is the author of 5 Christian books including Life After Eden, available now.
You can follow Heather on IG at HeatherThompsonDay

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35 Responses

    1. Yeah, that’s one risk. The other one that always nags at me is that people will think I don’t care and use my name in conversation when they’re looking for a POC who is on their side.

  1. Yesssss girl yessss!! The need to explain everything and throughly know black history is exhausting! But people still don’t get it. And well, protesting is in our blood so I say press on until change is made. Thank you for posting this. It was very well written!

  2. Geri Rishaug

    Heather, thank you! I am personally tired of every race right now and I just want Jesus to come quickly. I’m tired of being white. I’m tired of being called a racist and a bigot because of my color, just as the blacks are tired of being labeled. I had a long, heart to heart conversation with a close girlfriend of mine who happens to be black. I just wanted to understand. Praise God she helped me understand what it truly is to be a black person in the world today. My eyes were opened to a culture I really knew nothing about. I grew up in a predominately white community, by no fault of my own, or even my parents and I had no idea of the struggles of the blacks except for what I read in history books. I’m thankful for my friend who truly helped me understand. I wish more people would be willing to listen, and learn, instead of ranting on in their ignorance.

  3. Thank you for sharing your perspective! I deeply resonate with your experience as a biracial woman. Thank you for speaking up for those that are just too tired to say they’re tired.

    I would love to connect with you more about your story and your experiences!

  4. Seth Heather Day I clearly need to keep my day job and stop trying to be a district attorney !!! i’m going to go out on a limb here and Think of myself as inspiration for this latest blog…LOL you hit every nail on the head… as crazy as this sounds before I felt a disconnect between African-American civil rights because I was just African and not African-American and did not feel that my struggle was the same… REALITY CHECK x1000

    1. Heather Day

      Your saying this means so much!! I have told many people, one of the biggest things I will miss from SMC is the leadership of Dr. Fleming. Hope you are WELL!

  5. Thank you, Heather. I am one of those white women that often read through comments and find myself apologizing for the way others disrespect POC.Sometimes it feels like a losing battle and I get tired and just stop reading the comments, at least for a day or two. lol

    You know I never really understood what POC went through until my son married a girl from Venezuela, she is a first-generation American. The way she is often treated, or disrespected makes my blood boil. It makes my heart said, even my grandchildren see it, understand it, even at a young age.

    I am rambling…it’s late. But just wanted you to know how thankful I am for your honesty. I know I still have much to learn, but I do want to help where I can so that perhaps one day my grandchildren will a kinder, more respectful community to live in.

    1. Heather Day

      Sharon,
      I am so glad you stopped to comment. We are called to love God AND LOVE MAN. That’s the covenant. I don’t think people realize that our relationship with God can only run as deep as our relationships with humanity. We have to strive to be engaged with both.

  6. Pingback : It Is Tiring To Be Black

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