Tuesday, January 27, 2009

She is Tired

“I’m not reading the book.” My wife said.

I wasn’t quite sure why. She is not always the best at finishing the books for her monthly book club but outright refusal is something new, unless its science fiction. This month was a book about some guy who grew up in the hood and then got into an Ivy League school. I asked her why she wasn’t reading it.

“I’m tired of talking about race with a bunch of white people.”

We have been here before. We have lived in all white places. We have socialized in predominantly white circles. Every time, it gets tiring for her.

It has nothing to do with any of the individual people really, there is no one to point a finger at, it’s more like everything.
Its watching and listening to a bunch of people talk and discuss the issues of a group they don’t belong too and don’t really understand. It is not fielding questions on the subject, but being used as a yard stick with which to measure that other group. It is assumptions that she isn’t really like the rest of her group, doesn’t really belong to “them”, or even possibly just the opposite.
It gets old, it gets tiring, and sometimes the things you learn about others in these discussions, you wish you didn’t.

I don’t get tired, I get worried.

I get worried for her; I want her to be happy.
I continue to talk about these things but more often when she isn’t around. I continue to talk because these things need to be talked about. Someone who has very informed opinions recently said in a blog post that talking about race doesn’t help.
I would counter by asking if not talking about race has ever helped?
When has silence on the subject ever made the problems go away?

I get worried because I fear people will stop listening because they get tired of my voice. How long can someone listen to the same note played over and over again? How many ways can I think to play this one note and keep it interesting?
I worry people will ignore what I say, writing me off as a zealot. I worry people think the issues really aren’t that important and I have simply chosen one issue to harp on and blown it out of proportion. I worry that if I focus too sharply I will lose perspective.

I worry that if I shut up, my children will be more likely to have to fight the issues I shy away from. Of course I can’t fix the world, nor can anyone fix it by the time my children become more aware, but as a father I feel I have to try. I have to set an example.

I don’t fault my wife for being tired. I think she should give it a rest, she is enlisted in this fight whether she wants to be or not. She deserves all my patience and care.

I have no patience for white people who are tired of this fight. We tend to get tired of it far too quickly, usually before it really gets going. We tire because we think it is someone else’s fight. We tire because if we ignore it, it usually ignores us. We ignore the fact that black people don’t have this luxury. Not only do we ignore it but we tend to resent their attempts to do so, disparaging all black colleges or groups, or lunch tables. We tire because we think the fight is rigged against us.

It is not.

She should be able to rest, that is why I cannot.


Jenna said...

Powerful post.

I usually read your writing and then think deeply. Usually though I am too afraid to say anything for fear of saying the wrong thing. And I don't like arguing or debating so I never want to step into the ring. Thanks for being involved & sharing your perspective.

Jenna said...

And if that was a really dorky comment then just don't publish it! I didn't mean to say anything bad - I just really respect what you right & the way it makes me think.

brohammas said...

no worries Jenna. that is part of the point of the post. This discussion is not rigged against you, you can comment. Your feelings or thoughts are not stupid and sharing them is the only we can all learn and eventually get somewhere.

Robyn said...

Your fight is a good one. Don't stop talking, you have a great story to tell and people do listen. What a great story to pass along to your children and ours.

Hopefully you both will be able to rest soon!

Corbie said...

I want to think about this for awhile but I'm leaving for New York tomorrow and I'm sure by the time I'm back you will have moved on from this post. So, in lieu of anything of substance to add to the debate, I thought it was really well written and you did a good job of putting your inner feelings on paper. Well done.

Jake said...

Very good post. I won't try to comment too much on something I really know little about, but I will say that we sure do miss the diversity there. Not so much diversity of races, but of cultures, thoughts, and people in general. Sometimes I think we talk about diversity and problems that come with it and forget to take time to enjoy it and all it offers us. My wife sure does miss yours by the way. Tell her that my wife isn't quite herself without yours around. I could use some backyard tiki time with the brohammas myself.

don'tcallmelady said...

Being from a predominantly white area, and being white myself, I think I am sometimes reluctant to join the discussion because the black people in my aquaintance are tired, and I can understand why. Every person they are encountering is having a relatively new or uncommon experience, and they handle it pretty much the same way, asking the same questions, trying to have an interaction without feeling the newness of it. I can only imagine it must be repeditive at best and exhausting at worst and I am hesitant to add my well meaning inexperience to the heaps of well meaning inexperience they have already encountered on any given day. And so I hang back, which is probably not helpful either.

Ryann said...

It was a good book. I'm glad the book club chose it. Although I won't be at the discussion, I'm sure your wife could add light to the discussion, but no one can blame her for being tired of being that light. But at the same time, who puts a light under a bushel?

uglyblackjohn said...

But where can your wife go where she won't be tired?
It's now just part of her life.
If she goes to an all Black area, she'll no longer fit in.
If she goes to an upscale all Black area, it's usually more pretentious than any other.
She is where she belongs.
But damn... I understand her feelings on this one.

brohammas said...

UBJ, you bring up some points I should probably leave alone... remind me to talk about "Mocha Moms" in the light of what you just wrote. That would probably get me in trouble.

I may have been a little grand in my writing. She is comfortable in the life we have chosen, simply some aspects of life that are repeating get tiring. If she could get some of her "other" friends to show up regularly at book club that could be all it would take (that means YOU if you are reading htis). But being the only one gets wearisome and lonely no matter what it is that makes you different. With that in mind, should I send my girls to BYU or Spellman?

Spammon said...

I'm going to be honest. I'm just sick of the whole race thing altogether. I stay out of it because I don't want to hear it anymore. I don't care what color a person and because of that, I'm going to treat them all the same. I'm tired of any race getting a talking point because of their race. I don't care what race the president is. I voted based on policies and where I think they will lead this country. I'm tired of people referring to themselves as insert your ethnic background here-American. We are all Americans now. Let's stop segregating ourselves and bury this crap.

Honestly? I don't think it will ever end until everyone is tired of it.

That's the problem. Nobody is tired of it. And that's what needs to happen.

Get tired of it people, because there's more important things in this world to worry about. Like what's for dinner, or maybe it's time to change the toilet paper roll.

Spammon said...

BTW, Don't take anything I said as being rude or insensitive. It's what I've said to myself and what I live by.

brohammas said...

So is talking about race the only race related problem left?

brohammas said...

and don't worry, anyone with that much reggae in tap will always be OK with me.

Spammon said...

Nah, not talking about it, caring about it. Once we don't care about race, we'll all be much better.

brohammas said...

sure life would be better.

How do you stop caring about something that influences your life every day?

Spammon said...

We're not born racists or bigots, we're learned that way. Sooner or later, everyone is going to have to unlearn that. Once we do that, you raise your kids without thought of race.

Did you really care about who you played with or race of the friends around you when you were 8?

brohammas said...

Of course I didn't care what race my friends were at 8. But that everything to do with where I was at age 8 and it probably should be mentioned that I only lived within walking distance of one brown family... I think you know them.

It is not that way everywhere.

How do you ignore it, or unlearn it, when those in your neighborhood are taught to care what race you are?

Spammon said...

How do you ignore what people think and say to you about your religion, your music taste, your clothing, your political views? Why don't people tell their kids they can't hang out with someone because they 'like to wear yellow, and I hate yellow'. Why should skin color be any different.

The media thinks they are doing such a wonderful job glorifying that we have an African-American President. IMO it does more harm than good. I see an American as president. So even if we raise our kids to not care, there's always the media to keep everyone in check.

I have no idea how we get there, I just know where we need to be.

brohammas said...

I can deny my religion, mute my music, change my clothes, and my views can be swayed... those are all things I choose and I bear the results. I do not choose my race and I cannot change it.
If you hate me because my shirt is yellow, I can choose to get a new shirt as not to deal with your ire. If you hate me because my skin is yellow, what do I do?

Ignore you? what if you are my boss, teacher, neighbor, cousin, police officer, or what if there are millions of you and only three of me? what do I do?

Sure the president is an American, but to say his race is not an issue is IMO about 50 years premature.

How can we get there without talking about it?

classical one said...

Race has always been an issue and always will be. Group identity and tribalism are still with us in force all over the world, of which race is a big part. Look at what people did to each other in the former Yugoslavia.. and they didn't even have race to contend with. Churches are still segregated here, neighborhoods are segregated etc. and all of it is by choice. Here's an interesting question. If the American government broke down and civil chaos emerged, with groups fighting each other, how would it break down? It wouldn't be by class, because you can't see class, it would probably be by race and ethnic group-like prison. Race is still very much with us.

Spammon said...

I don't have the answers. But classical one is right. It will never end. The best we can do is lead by example.

SOILA. said...

I like your wife, am TIRED of it all too.
I think I'm tired because I just got back from a 2 month vacation in Kenya where NOT once in those 2 months did I have to think about race. It's just sad to get back here and realize things didnt magically change (as I had hoped they would).

"I get worried because I fear people will stop listening because they get tired of my voice. How long can someone listen to the same note played over and over again?"

Now, some people like your wife and I may be sick of it all but, we need people like you to keep talking about it and pushing towards the goal. Just because I feel despaired doesnt mean I want the problem ignored like I'm doing to it right now...

I dont know if I'm even making much sense right now so I think I'll stop and maybe come back later.

Siditty said...

Your wife lives my life. You do get tired, because no matter how much you talk and explain, people don't understand because they don't want to, and sometimes because they just aren't able to, and it does get frustrating. It is even more frustrating to be the "different one", as if you are an alien.

I will say throughout my life I have managed to find a niche. I have black friends, I have white friends, I have friends of other races, but I always brace myself for fear the comments I cringe (you talk like a white girl, you aren't like the other blacks, or the you're a credit to your race comments) will come up, and they have at certain times, but I think at some point you become desensitized as well and let a lot of things roll off your back, and other times you are hypersensitive and you don't or aren't able to hold back.

It is a constant balancing act.

My husband told me once I was race obsessed, and I probably am, but I think a luxury of being my husband is that as a white person, the majority of time he doesn't have to think about race, but as a black person, race is a constant reminder always lingering in the back of your head and sometimes it comes right to the forefront to smack you in the face.

Anonymous said...

This post was a bit grandiose,but I think your hot so I'll let it slide.

SSBenjamins said...

i think it's great that you talk about this. it is so important for all children to know and though equality will probably never be around maybe understanding can be. i hope your wife can get some rest, i am sorry that she has felt this way.. i am sorry for many .. i have encountered this all in a different way with having a brother who is disabled. it's hard, but your teachings teach us all. thank you..

SSBenjamins said...

i think it's great that you talk about this. it is so important for all children to know and though equality will probably never be around maybe understanding can be. i hope your wife can get some rest, i am sorry that she has felt this way.. i am sorry for many .. i have encountered this all in a different way with having a brother who is disabled. it's hard, but your teachings teach us all. thank you..

nathalia said...

There is too much to think about after reading this post, so I won't say more than just thanking for making me think about it!

Lita said...

I really needed to read this. Thank You.