'I'm Not Your Negro' Reflection

“All of Western nations have been caught in a lie, the lie of pretended humanism.” This statement took me back to being 19 years old in 1993. I was walking out of a store and I saw an elderly white lady struggling to open a door. I immediately went to assist her, opened the door for her, and asked if I could help her to her vehicle. She thanked me so gratefully and said to me, “You are the prettiest, nappiest headed gal I have ever seen.” This statement struck me like a blunt force object to the head, but I had to stop and think about the era this sweet old lady had lived in. My feelings were hurt because she actually thought she had given me a compliment. In her mind, she was conveying that I was beautiful…for a black girl. She was completely oblivious to hurting my feelings. A simple, “Thank you” would have been sufficient. I did not see her as white. When I saw her, I thought about my own grandmother in a store alone struggling to open a door and would have wanted someone to help her if I was not there.

Nappy? What the hell does nappy mean? There are many hair types: straight, curly, fine, course, thin, thick, or a combination of, but nappy? Humanism is way of life centered on being human without all of the labels: black, white, gay, straight, Baptist, Catholic, etc.… That is not the way this country operates. I know firsthand because I AM BLACK. Only a black person knows what it is to be black in America. Yes, there are those who sympathize, and NO, I’m not bitter, but as stated in the film, “If I was bitter, I have every right to be.” I had a right to be bitter every time I was profiled in a department store when I was simply shopping. Instead of the salesperson asking if I needed assistance, they silently followed me around the store. I had a right to be bitter every time I was profiled for the car I was driving in the neighborhood I was traveling through when I was simply trying to get home from work. And in my most recent experience, I had the right to be bitter when I was having lunch in my favorite restaurant after church on a Sunday afternoon, and my 50 something white male waiter quoted prices to me as I placed my order. I refuse to be bitter. I feel sorry for this country for viewing me first as black instead of human. “In a country to which you are born is not evolved and has no place for you.” The most important thing is that I see myself first as human. That allows me to be the change I want to see in the world as Gandhi would say. So no, I’m not your negro! I am a human, woman, mother, daughter, student, teacher, co-worker, friend, and yes, I just so happen to be black.