Who’s Assuming Who?

(Disclaimer- I proofread this post a dozen times and used Grammarly to help. If you see any mistakes, I’m only human. And I am not perfect. Thanks for reading!)

Last week I posted a blog post called, “Dear Scared White People” that received mostly positive comments.  But three people took issue with the title… (Insert dramatic music here) without having read the post.  On the Facebook blog post, one woman said, “I am not a sensitive woman, but the title of your post turned me off.  I am just being honest. While I am sure it is all in good humor, I wouldn’t click it.”  Although she said that she wasn’t a “sensitive woman”, the fact that she felt a strong emotion to just the title tells me she is.  I promptly let her know that I wasn’t trying to be humorous.  I told her that the post wasn’t directed at ALL WHITE PEOPLE.  I have the where with all to know that not ALL WHITE PEOPLE behave in the manner in which I was speaking of in my post.  I go on to explain that the title is directed at the so-called “scared” ones.  The second person left a comment that said, “Wow racist to a T.”  (Insert the emoji with the person with their hand over their face.)  The sheer ignorance and cluelessness of that person didn’t surprise me one bit.  And the third person said it was, “terrible click bait” and “kind of offensive, too.”  He went on to say that it was a “terrible assumption to make with the title.”  He continued by saying, “The way you’re approaching, what I would assume is an important matter based on other comments here, is terrible.  You’re projecting an assumption of an entire racial class.”  To which I responded, “So from your statement, I can tell that not only didn’t you read the post to find out exactly what and whom I’m talking about.  You didn’t even read all the comments posted here by others.  You are ASSUMING you know what I’m talking about based solely on the title.  The exterior.  So don’t say I’m projecting an assumption when clearly you are doing the same.”  After addressing all three (politely I might add) what do you think happened?  Absolutely nothing.  Complete radio silence from all three, just as I expected.

By their comments, I feel, they clearly fit the narrative of people making assumptions about certain things without learning the truth.  It piggybacks a little off last week’s post about people calling the cops on people of color because they made assumptions about them.  The assumptions being who they think these people are or what they think they may do.  Let me be very clear here:  ALL HUMANS make assumptions about others at one time or another.  (Raises hand…..I’m guilty of this.)  I have a friend named Kevin that I have known for ten years now.  When I first met Kevin, I didn’t think we would have anything in common.  He listened to different music, he wore Insane Clown Posse tee shirts and he wasn’t the friendliest looking guy.  I made assumptions about him based on what I saw and nothing else.  Fast forward to now, and he’s one of my dearest friends.  I’ll be attending his wedding next summer.

I developed inaccurate and stupid opinions about people.  Most of which were truly unwarranted and unfair.  The one that I used to make was if a particular white person I encountered would be racist.  These thoughts stem from interactions I had while growing up black in America.  I’ve been followed around a store while shopping on a few occasions.  Sometimes I’m still nervous that someone thinks I may steal from a store just because I’m black.  I’ve heard things said like (insert their idea of a compliment here) for a black girl.  And the infamous, “You’re different than other black people.  You’re not like them.”  I’m still not sure how to process that last one.  The fact that I have encountered a few bad apples in the bunch is in no way an excuse for me to think all white people are racist.  But I wanted to give you some context as to where my thoughts came from.

As I stated above, we all make assumptions.  We assume that we will not like the taste of certain foods because of the way it looks or smells.  We assume that we won’t like a movie because of reviews it received from our family or friends.  We assume that the title of a post is “terrible click bait” without knowing that the person titled it that way to convey an important message.  And we assume that a whole race of people are bad because we have heard things or had an unpleasant experience with someone of that race.  Assumptions get people in a lot of unnecessary trouble.  So take the time to dig a little bit further beneath the surface before you project your own thoughts onto a situation.  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll make a new friend you thought you wouldn’t have anything in common with.  Or maybe, just maybe, you learn something you didn’t know about yourself.

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Dear “Scared White People,”

(Disclaimer- I proofread this post a dozen times and used an online site to help. If you see any mistakes, I’m only human. And I am not perfect. Thanks for reading!)

Dear “Scared White People”,

Hi. My name is Nyikia and I am a concerned black woman.  I’m writing this letter to you because I’m growing quite concerned (and getting pissed off) by your recent behavior toward black people.  I have listed a few examples:

1.) Calling the cops when black people are waiting for our friends in the local Starbucks. (Happened in Philadelphia.)
2.) Calling the cops when black people gather peacefully in the park to have a BBQ with friends and family. (Google BBQ Becky.)
3.) Calling the cops when black people are going to view a house that is for sale. Even though the person is a real estate agent, and had been authorized to do so.
4.) Calling the cops when black people check out of an Airbnb (with their luggage in full view) because you thought they might be burglars.
5.) Calling the police on a 9-year old that was just buying something at the local corner store because you think they “grabbed your butt.” (Google Corner store Caroline)
6.) Calling the police because a black father was cheering his son on during his soccer game. (Google Golf cart Gail)

I’ll stop here because the list goes on and on with your less than stellar behavior.  If you notice from the list, there is a consistent pattern.  That pattern is the calling of the police on people who don’t look like you.  Why is that?  I could understand if they were doing something that was suspicious.  But clearly, in the instances listed above, they were not. The suspicion you had was based merely on the color of their skin.  And also, the prejudices you have acquired over the years.  Now I understand that your prejudices could stem from a learned behavior passed down from generation to generation.  And some have come from outside sources:  literature, television, hearsay and most notorious the media.  I’m really trying to work with you “scared white people,” I really am.  But at a certain point in life, you have to take inventory of yourself.  Not everything you see and hear about people is true.  Even the cheeto in chief (aka our current realty star president) knows this.  Hence the term his administration loves to overuse, “fake news.” Although in his case most of what we hear about him turns out to be absolutely true.  But that’s a post for another day.

Let’s get back to the task at hand.  I understand having a little concern for the unknown. Dark places, stray animals, emails from strange addresses and yes our fellow humans.  I grew up in the 80’s with McGruff the Crime Dog, so I learned all about stranger danger. But the one thing McGruff never taught us was to be afraid of someone based solely on their skin color.  If you asked the average child today to describe someone that frightens them, I’m pretty sure a stranger’s skin color wouldn’t come up.  Unless of course, they were taught that type of racial bias in the home.  So why is it children are wiser in this regard than most adults?  I work with children for a living, and I notice that they have a tendency of seeing people for exactly who they are.  Race not included.  When they judge you, they judge you on your merits.  Race not included.  When they are leery of someone, it is because of the vibe they get from the person.  RACE NOT INCLUDED.  Children are usually both open and eager to get to know someone who is different than themselves. They ask questions without assuming they know the answer.  Children just see a person much like themselves with zero prejudgments.

So why haven’t adults learned to do this already?  For people who are older and intellectually smarter, we sure lack the intelligence of the average child.  I’m going to take this time to let you in on something you should have already figured out:  NOT ALL BLACK PEOPLE ARE BAD PEOPLE.  That is shocking right?  I know the truth can be most times.  But I feel you really need to know and understand that fact.  Let me be clear here, there are bad people in every race, gender, and country.  Being a bad person is not relegated to a racial thing.  It’s a personality and behavioral thing.  If I went around thinking certain things about certain races, then my belief right now would be that all white people are racist.  And clearly, that is not the case.

I have a suggestion on how to help you “scared white people” in working through your prejudices.  Provided you actually want to get rid of your judgmental nature and possibly make a few new friends.  BE OPEN.  Get to know more about the black people that you encounter in your everyday life.  That sounds like a lofty task, but it can be made easy. You can simply start by saying, “Hello.”  Easy enough right?  Have a real genuine conversation with that co-worker that you see all the time.  Get to know them on a level that’s based on common ground, common interest and a humane level.  You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll have in common with the average black person.  Everyone has that one family member that they don’t like in their family.  You avoid them at all costs at family functions until another relative asked you if you said hi to them.  You can easily bond over that.  Or how you love your kids to death, but could sometimes punt them like a football when they get on your nerves.  You can’t always judge a book by its cover.  You have to pick it up, read the description on the back or inside cover in order to learn what it’s about.  And the same goes for people.  All I’m saying is get to know someone who’s different than you before you judge them.  And for the love of God:  STOP CALLING THE POLICE.

With all love and sincerity,

Nyikia

 

Resting Bitch Face: It’s Real

(Disclaimer- I proofread this thing a dozen times and used an online site to help.  If you see any mistakes, I’m only human and not perfect.  Thanks for reading!)

According to Urban Dictionary.com, the formal definition for Resting Bitch Face is:  “A phenomenon in which the resting face lacks animation and appears to look bitchy at all times, thus leading people to believe a person must be upset, a snob or a bitch.”

I am a sufferer of this misunderstood facial phenomenon.  Thinking back on it for the majority of my life, I had absolutely no idea!  I would get the usual questions like, “What’s wrong with you?” or “Who pissed you off today?”  Or worse I would hear later that comments were made about me to others basically saying that I looked bitchy and “unapproachable.”  I wanted to say to them, “This is just my face.”  Who knows how many dates or hangouts I missed out on because someone was afraid to talk to me.  Who knows how many times someone may have looked at me and thought I was an angry person that would kick their ass in a minute.  Now to be completed honest and fair, back in the day I was not always the nicest person in the world.  I had what some would describe as a “bad attitude” and I was a bit of a “Debbie Downer.”  And I take full responsibility for that.  But I’m a totally different person from who I used to be.  I worked really hard to be a happier person for myself and toward others around me.  But do you know for all that work I did, I STILL have Resting Bitch Face?  Smh….

On a brighter note though, having Resting Bitch Face probably kept me from having a lot of unpleasant experiences.  So that’s good!  I feel like I shouldn’t be solely judged because I’m not walking around smiling 24/7.  Who the hell does that?  You know damn well if I did, people would think that I was either high or crazy.  Before when I saw someone sitting alone minding their own business smiling for seemingly no reason, I would have definitely been leery of them.  I would have more than likely thought to myself, “Is that person up to something?  They are smiling way too hard over there and they’re sitting alone.  I better get out of here.”  I know it isn’t right, but that’s what I would have been thinking.  Deep down in my mind, everyone is the potential killer/ rapist.  Weird thinking I know, but hey it has kept me alive and well so far.  I attribute this to watching and listening to far too many true crime shows and podcast.  But seriously though, it’s perfectly ok to be cautious.  But I was judging someone in the way that others judged me. And that isn’t right.

I currently work as a Teacher’s Assistant for a living until my successfully (and very profitable) writing career takes off.  I have to say children never think I have Resting Bitch Face.  Not that they would know exactly what that is, but they don’t judge me on my lack of a happy facial expression.  They usually just see another person that they can talk too about whatever is on their minds.  Children are extremely comfortable around me. I even have children in public places start talking to me without any motivation from me to do so.  I once had cute little girl start a conversation with me in a ladies line bathroom.  I’m sure to the adults around;  I may not have looked like I was interested in talking.  But she didn’t see that.  She saw a person that she wanted to talk to about her Little Mermaid shoes her mother bought her.  And that was the best.

Since I’ve discovered that I suffer from RBF, I do my best to be mindful of it.  Sometimes though, I can’t help it.  I get lost in my own thoughts of things I have to do or want to do. And my facial expressions (or lack thereof) get away from me.  That doesn’t make me not a nice person or unapproachable.  It just means I have a lot of things on my mind at that given time.  So next time you see someone who may suffer from Rest Bitch Face, don’t judge them too quickly.  There may be nothing at wrong with them at all.  For all you know, they could be thinking about how much they really want a taco.

ESP: Energy Sucking People

Have you ever been around someone that as soon as they appear, a large portion of your energy is drained?  I have.  And to be honest, I have been that person.  But here’s the thing:  I didn’t realize that I was doing it.  I think most ESP’s (Energy Sucking People) never realize that’s what they are doing.  As a former ESP, I can say I never knew it.  I thought I was doing one of the following instead.  I believed I was keeping it real (aka being honest) or looking for advice with my venting.  Turns out the “keeping it real” wasn’t always so good.  When I thought I was being “helpful”, I was actually being hurtful.  And the “looking for advice with my venting” was actually just whining.  I just wanted to talk about all the bad in my life because I was looking for sympathy and agreement.  And the minute I felt like you didn’t agree with me, the conversation was over in my mind.  ESP’s often times just want to know that you are feeling the same way that they are.  The last thing a ESP wants to hear is that life is going well for you.  As I stated earlier, I don’t believe that this behavior is intentionally done by all of them.  But there is a small portion of them that like to know that they are not alone in their misery.

For me, it wasn’t that I wanted everyone to be unhappy or down because I was.  But I did take some solace in knowing that I wasn’t the only one whose life wasn’t going as planned.  The other kind of ESP is the one who doesn’t know that they drain the life out of any situation with their presence.  They have been an ESP so long that it just second nature for them.  It has become ingrained in who they are.  (Raises hand slowly)  When I was an ESP, I couldn’t identify that my lack of positive energy was draining those around me.  That by my talking (aka constant complaining) about my circumstances, I was zapping away their energy.  I didn’t know that I wasn’t getting invited to hangout as much anymore because people wanted to limit their time around me.  By the time I finally did, I couldn’t believe those people stayed around me as long as they did in the first place.  Many said that they stayed around because they knew I was a good person and that they loved me.  (Insert crying emoji here)

As a former ESP, I can now identify an ESP probably quicker than the average person. And when I do I have to ask myself a few questions.  Why?  Why do I continue to talk to this person?  Why do I keep them around?  Some of the ESP’s in my life, unfortunately, are family members.  Truth be told I have zero problems distancing myself from family members that I don’t gel with.  But when they are immediate members that can be harder to do.  Here’s how I handle the ESP’s in my life.

1.) Focus on my happy.  I have one ESP that as soon as I see or hear them, my vibe can be lowered just like that.  I feel the lowering of my vibration, acknowledge it, and find something to be happy or grateful for.  It could be something as a simple as, “My hair looks really good today.  These curls are popping!”  Find something to bring you vibes back up where they belong.

2.) Venting Time Limits.  Everyone needs to let off some verbal steam from time to time. But a person’s steam starts to burn my skin:  I CUT THAT SHIT SHORT.  If they keep coming to me with the same stuff all the time with no sort of change:  I cut that shit short. If when I’m done listening to them I have a headache, my mood is down AND I feel I need a drink……(Say it with me)  I CUT THAT SHIT SHORT.  It’s ok to be there for the people you love and care about especially when they are going through something heavy, they need you.  But make sure to not let them ALL your energy while doing so.

3.) Don’t take their energy personally.  This one can be tricky because my first thought when someone is coming to be with an attitude is I did something to them.  Or when I try to give advice on things I do when I feel the same, they totally dismiss it.  Or worse than that, they lash out.  It’s taking me a while (because as much as I don’t want to admit it) I can be a bit sensitive.  I learned that their shit is their shit.  That their energy is their energy.  That their feelings and opinions are their feelings and opinions.  And that NONE of that has any bearing on how I should feel in my own life or energy space.

So if you find yourself around an ESP, just let them be who they are going to be.  And try not to let their low energy take away from your high vibrations.

Dear “Scared” White People

(Quick Disclaimer:  This is not about ALL WHITE PEOPLE,  just a chosen few.  Once you read it, you’ll know exactly who I’m talking too.)

Hi. My name is Nyikia.  In case you haven’t already figured out by my name, I’m black woman.  A black woman to be specific.  I’m writing this letter to you because I’m growing quite concerned (and a little-pissed off) by a lot of your recent behavior toward black people. I have listed a few examples:

1.) Calling the cops when black people are waiting for our friends in the local Starbucks.
2.) Calling the cops when black people gather peacefully in the park to have a BBQ with friends and family.
3.) Calling the cops when black people are going to view a house that is for sale.  Even though the person is a real estate agent, and had been authorized to do so.
4.) Calling the cops when black people check out of an Airbnb (with their luggage in full view) because you thought they might be burglars.

I’ll stop here because the list goes on and on, with your less than stellar behavior.  If you notice from the list, there is a consistent pattern.  The pattern of calling the police on people who don’t look like you.  Why is that?  I could understand if they were doing something that was suspicious.  But clearly, in these instances, they were not.  The suspicion for you was merely the color of their skin and the prejudices you have acquired over the years.  Now I understand that your prejudices have come from a learned behavior passed down from generation to generation.  And some have come from outside sources:  literature, television, hearsay and most notorious the media.  I’m really trying to work with you “scared white people,” I really am.  But at a certain point in life, you have to take certain inventory of yourself.  Not everything you see and hear about people is true.  Even the cheeto in chief (our current play president) knows this. Hence the term his administration loves to overuse, “fake news.”  Although in his case most of what we hear about him keeps coming up true.  But that’s a post for another day. Let’s get back to the task at hand.

I understand having a little concern for the unknown.  Dark places, stray animals, emails from strange addresses and yes our fellow humans.  I grew up in the 80’s with McGruff the Crime Dog, so I learned all about stranger danger.  But the one thing McGruff never taught, was to be afraid of someone based solely on their skin color.  If you asked the average child today to describe someone that frightened them, I’m pretty sure a stranger’s skin color wouldn’t come up.  Unless they were taught that in the home.  So why is it children are wiser in this regard than most adults?  I work with children for a living, and I notice that they have a tendency of seeing people for exactly who they are. Race not included.  When they judge you, they judge you on your merits.  Race not included.  When they are leery of someone, it is because of the vibe they get from the person.  RACE NOT INCLUDED.  Children are usually both open and eager to get to know someone who is different than themselves.  They ask questions without assuming they know the answer.  Children just see a person much like themselves with zero prejudgments.  So why haven’t adults learned to do this already?

For people who are older and intellectually smarter, we sure lack the intelligence of the average child.  I’m going to take this time to let you in on something you should have already figured out:  NOT ALL BLACK PEOPLE ARE BAD PEOPLE.  That is shocking right? I know the truth often times can be.  But I feel you really need to know and understand that fact.  Let’s be clear here, there are bad people in every race, gender, and country. Being a bad person is not relegated to a racial thing.  It’s a personality and behavioral thing.  If I went around thinking certain things about certain races, then my belief right now would be that all white people are racist.  And clearly, that is not the case.

I have a suggestion on how to help you “scared white people” in working through your prejudices.  Provided you actually want to get rid of your judgmental nature and possibly make a few new friends.  BE OPEN.  Get to know more about the black people that you encounter in your everyday life.  That sounds like a lofty task, but it can be made easy.  Simple start by saying, “Hello.”  Easy right?  Have a real genuine conversation with that co-worker that you see all the time.  Get to know them on a level that based on common ground, common interest and friendship.  You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll have in common with the average black person.  Everyone has that one cousin that they don’t like in their family.  You avoid them at all costs at family functions until another relative asked you if you said hi to them.  You can easily bond over that.  Or how you love your kids to death, but could sometimes punt them like a football when they get on your nerves.  Often times can’t judge a book by its cover.  You have to pick it up, read the description on the back or inside cover in order to learn more about the topic.  And the same goes for people.  All I’m saying is get to know someone who’s different than you before you judge them.  And for the love of God: STOP CALLING THE POLICE.

With all love and sincerity,

Nyikia

 

Basic People Etiquette: Can you please back the f*ck up?

I’m sure you have been in this situation before, probably more than you would like to remember.   You’re standing in line and the person behind you is standing so close that you swear you feel their breath on the back of your neck.  So close that you start to feel incredibly uncomfortable, but you’re not sure exactly what to do.  So you take one or two steps up and they turn around and do the same thing.  At this point I’m usually thinking to myself, “Dude, I’m trying to get the hell away from you.  Please back the f*ck up!” Since I’m too polite to actually say it, the look I give them usually conveys this.  Ha! Ha! But even still sometimes they get it, but often times they don’t. In the unfortunate case that they still aren’t getting the hint, I then implore a new strategy.  I turn my body to the side, get a wide stance with my feet and look in their direction.  May look weird but at that point I don’t care.  I just want him or her to give me some damn space.  Recently I was in line are the grocery store customer service counter and there was a guy standing behind me.  Now he was already a little too close for my comfort, but I let it go this time because I was next in line and figure this transaction shouldn’t take long.  When it was my turn I walked up to the counter and do you know homeboy moved from behind me and stood to my left leaning on the freaking counter facing me?!  I couldn’t believe!  And he stood there the entire time that I was doing my transaction just looking and leaning on the counter.  I kept looking at the woman helping me and his ass like, “Do you see this sh*t?” She eventually noticed him too and just looked at me and shook her head.  I really don’t understand how some people don’t have basic people etiquette.

Another example of this is when you hold the door for someone and they don’t say, “Thank you.”  As if it was my job to hold the door open for you your highness.  Another one is when you let someone in your lane while driving and they don’t give you the head nod or wave as a thank you. Just typing that sentence got me a little ticked off.  Ha! Ha!  Some more examples of this are: sneezing or coughing in public and not covering your mouth, talking too loudly on your cell when it’s a quiet environment (i.e. a library, while someone is watching tv), staring at someone when they are having a conversation with someone that isn’t you (personally hate this one with a passion) and generally not saying, “Please and Thank you” as a rule of thumb.  Most basic people etiquette was taught to us as children. So there is absolutely no excuse for you not to do it as an adult.  None.  To sum this all up, I’ll say this.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  If you don’t like when people don’t say thank you or please to you, make sure you do to others.  If you don’t like when someone coughs or sneezes around you without covering their mouths, make sure you do every time.  If you don’t like when someone is staring when you’re having a conversation with someone, don’t do the same to others.  And above all else if you notice that you are standing a bit too close to the person in front of you in line: Back the f*ck up.