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I am supposed to be happy today, Marriage Equality has passed, and now, (as soon as one will have me) I can legally marry a man in America. This news is supposed to make me jump for joy and do cartwheels about “progress” and how “liberal” the USA has become… yet I find my intersections grating against each other. The fact that the funeral for Reverend Senator Clementa Pinckney, (who was murdered with 8 others by racist terrorist Dylann Roof) is taking place today makes me pause in anger and sadness. Where we have made great strides in LGBTQ rights, we seem to be back in 1954 when it comes to race.
Today, I went to Best Buy to purchase some things for school in the fall. I needed to compare prices on printers and I walked into the store, right up the the three printers I had priced online. I just needed to see what the difference was between the printers other than price. I also wished to consult with the salespeople for their expertise. I walked over to the printers, and walked back and forth looking at the prices and the information cards in front of the printers, clearly indicating I was a person with money to spend who needs help. I then looked up, and noticed that I was the only person of color (that I could see anyway) in the store as a customer. All the white patrons were being helped. This is an old racial micro aggression tactic of white supremacy known as “Shopping While Black” . We are punished for our blackness, we are a problem. This might sound insignificant next to the huge tragedy of Charleston, but these little cuts of micro aggressions add up. Racism is on a spectrum, there’s a whole lot between “not racist” and “bombing churches/lynching.”
So it works this way, as a person of color in a retail environment, you are either followed and scrutinized as a criminal in a store, or ignored altogether because a black person couldn’t possibly afford anything that is going to bring a sales person a comission right? I waited for 15 minutes for help, making direct eye contact with sales persons who kept walking by. I finally stopped one and told them that I needed help trying to figure out which printer I wanted to purchase. They assured me someone would be over “as soon as possible.” Cut to 20 minutes later and a sales person finally graced me with their presence. I was livid, but as black people have learned to do in this country since we got here, I swallowed my anger and frustration and smiled as the sales person went on to finally describe the printers to me. Why didn’t I read him the riot act? This white sales person who seemed quite put out to have to describe these printers in detail? Well, this was the printer I wanted, and this was the closest Best Buy near me. The only store in town actually to carry the printer that I wanted out of the three. So I was left with the choice of walking out and not getting the printer I needed that is currently on sale, or suffer the indignity of racial micro aggression and get my printer. Black people make these choices hundreds of times a day. White supremacy makes us pick our battles, because there are too many every day to fight them all. The salesman sped through the descriptions and seemed quite surprised when I actually pulled out my debit card and told him which one I wanted.
So you’ll have to forgive me for not feeling elated today. When the hoopla is over, will white LGBTQ folk fight to restore the Voting Rights Act and to get real police reform? Black LGBTQ folks sure fought for marriage equality…
Charleston is recovering from one of the deadliest racial attacks in years, and I’m faced again with racial micro aggressions in my hometown. The sales person didn’t know that I am gay, but he could see that I am black.
I find once again that I am black first and gay second when it comes to how the world engages me, or I should more accurately say, how the world oppresses me. Exactly how hard the boot is placed on my neck is determined daily by my blackness first, and my sexuality second. So yay for Equality in getting married. It is important, but any joy I can feel today is broken by the constant reminder that my country has been built upon using black bodies for its purposes and hating me whenever it can for the same blackness. Love has won for the LGBTQ community. I keep seeing the hashtag, #lovewins. I just wonder when Love will win for my black brothers and sisters in America.
I strive daily to make it known loud and clear, that ,