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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Is it OK for me to be black, female and mad?

I used to walk around with a smile on my face all the time. I didn't want to be labeled as an angry black woman. I did that for a year.

That shit was painful. My day job has me working in a male dominated industry and for some of the people I work with think a smile is a sign of weakness. A smile means you're laying out the welcome mat for people to step on you. And I've been stepped on a few times.
I thought about Paul Lawrence Dunbar's epic poem, We All Wear the Mask, when mine slipped one day.

WE wear the mask that grins and lies,
    It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
    This debt we pay to human guile;
    With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
    And mouth with myriad subtleties.
    Why should the world be over-wise,
    In counting all our tears and sighs?
    Nay, let them only see us, while
            We wear the mask.
    We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
    To thee from tortured souls arise.
    We sing, but oh the clay is vile
    Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
    But let the world dream otherwise,
            We wear the mask!  —Source: http://www.potw.org

Then I decided, if you want to think of me as an angry black woman, go ahead. I get mad. I'm human. I shouldn't have to qualify my emotions because you view me through your prism of a stereotype. Until your opinion starts paying my bills, meeting my deadlines or mattering in anyway, I don't care what you think. 

You don't have to like me, but as a human, I deserve respect. I can share my happiness, but I'm supposed to suck down my anger like a bitter brewed cup of McDonald's coffee? Stress kills. Holding back anger does too. Would you rather an explosion or a minor eruption? 
Would you like to see your tires slashed and your windshield broken or can we have an argument, build a bridge and get over it? 
The choice is yours because I'm choosing to express myself. Don't like it? Don't talk to me. And then I probably won't get mad at all. 

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