I learned a HUGE lesson about privilege this weekend from my sister, Lakeesha.
She is moving from the apartment where I used to live and first started practicing Magick. She rented it when I moved to Ohio. I left some important items in her care, and I went back this weekend to get them so I can complete my new Altar/Root Room.
At first, I was ELATED that she was moving into my old spot. I looked forward to coming “home” and having occult gatherings in the home that brought me so much contentment and joy for the last five years.
The place is AMAZING for altars, spiritual work, and clients. There was even a woman named Sojourner who LIVED there a long time ago. It was PERFECT for my friend and spiritual sister! I am telling you, that flat is a spiritual portal, and it was the first place my personal spirits showed themselves in a very long time. Making their presence known is the reason I am a worker today. I started trying to protect myself from them, and then I ended up working with them.
I was sad to leave it, and I felt blessed that another witch/healer was taking it over. I did, however, warn her that the neighbors below me were older white people, moved into the place below mine after being in a standalone house their entire lives, complained all the time, and were crazy as bat shit. I thought that maybe they just hated me, and that things would work out. Her kids are quiet, older, and well behaved. There should not have been a problem with it at all.
But I did not mention that they were racist as fuck. Hell, I didn’t know it because I refused to tolerate their foolishness. Looking back, I should have known better. They were a constant pain in the ass when I lived there. I am the queen, however, of giving no fucks. Then my landlords moved right before I did, and two very racist, gay men replaced them in their old place on the first floor.
(I must note that it REALLY pisses me off when gay people are racists. I look at them and think, “you on the wrong side player!”)
When I lived there, I snapped on the neighbors below me when they came upstairs to bother me or complained to my landlord. I called out the new neighbors for leaving over 50 used moving boxes out in the rain when they KNEW I was moving. Now I know that they did that shit on purpose, and now I am glad none of my belongings were placed in those boxes.
Keesha sat down with these fools, and they REALLY exposed their ugly. She called them on their microaggressions and racism, and they have clowned the fool ever since. They questioned her BROTHER as to what he was doing in the building, left all kinds of bullshit notes, complained constantly, and the LAST straw was when they put up video cameras (and signs indicating they’d been installed) WITHOUT the landlord’s permission.
Spirit compelled me to tell her to leave (more like GET THE FUCK OUT OF THERE), and after great contemplation, that is what she is doing. Nobody is running from these racists, but damn, if you are paying your hard earned money to live somewhere, you need to be able to live in PEACE without someone micromanaging every step you take across the floor in a house where shoes are removed at the door.
Sometimes “you gotta know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, and know when to run.” The Universe is calling her to a new location that is going to reach more people in our community so she can build them up. I have a feeling that the folks who remain on that property are gonna be broken down because of their actions. The Ancestors will see to it. Spirit is not going to let them rest (especially if my circle of witches has anything to do with it).
I also have a feeling that without a witch/healer there keeping things in control, those racists are going to hear a lot more than bumps in the night when she leaves. They should have been glad to have us there. Their silly mirrors, gimmick crosses, and Go Away Root are not going to stop the spirits in that building. I almost feel sorry for them.
But I digress. This is supposed to be a blog post about privilege…
In the past, she mentioned that they really were really messing with her because she had Black sons. On that much I agreed with her wholeheartedly. When we were talking this weekend, I repeated that because she actually sat down with them, and tried to be nice to them, they mistook her kindness for weakness. I advised her that I waved my crazy flag on the daily so they would be scared to come within a few feet of me.
Then she touched on something that made me bristle.
She said that that they did not fuck with me as much because she was darker than I was.
At first, I began to argue her down. I am Black, and I cannot tell you how many white people have told me I was being “aggressive” or “yelling” at them when I was speaking to them calmly and professionally. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been called an “angry Black woman” for not taking the shit the world was shoveling. I’ve suffered from the intangible as well as tangible effects of racism for as long as I can remember in both Black and white environments.
It is as though the timbre of my voice irks racists. (Well, I am sorry I cannot sound white even if I wanted to. The tenor in, and cadence of, my voice gives me away. I’ve never been able to pass, although in my family, the generation before me could at times.) As a Black woman, I explained that I go through it all the time. I told her that I also feel the same pain and suffering she does when we are mistreated, discriminated against, assaulted/brutalized, brainwashed by education/society/the church, unfairly imprisoned, and killed. My cousin (and new apprentice) jumped into the conversation saying that she never experienced privilege because we are lighter either.
And then, I was horrified.
My mind started replaying what we just said to someone I love so much. I realized how we invalidated what she was saying just because WE never experienced it. I always tell people that something is not automatically untrue simply because you have not you experienced (or had knowledge of) it. That is a real fucked up, myopic mindset to have.
My mind also started replaying the many, many non-POC friends and business associates I’ve distanced myself from (and at times severed all ties with) in the past few years when their “white sheets started to show.”
The nail in the coffin was when they would add salt to the wound by saying they NEVER experienced privilege, did not have it because they were not rich, had been mistreated by society too, etc.
I never blew up at them – at first. I tried to educate them. I’d give them example after example. For some, the light came on immediately. Those are the people I did not walk away from. The ones who continued to display hostility over the matter, I walked away from and severed relationships with them for my own sanity and self-respect.
My biggest example was, “when you have privilege you have NO IDEA you have it because you ARE privileged!!!”
Imagine how my heart sank in my chest when I realized that I was doing the SAME thing to one of my best friends and sister in the craft.
Just because YOU cannot see your privilege does not mean it does not exist!!!
I experienced the immediate brain implosion that happens when you have an epiphany. Next, I felt a wave of humility pass over me, then shame. What followed was huge apology to my sista and an explanation to my cousin that we were no better than the non-POC people who said the same thing.
I owned my shit and ate it in a humble pie. I was dead fucking wrong.
I have never been in her shoes to see the disadvantage of being dark in a society that tells us “white is right.” And although I’ve experienced my own levels or marginalization as a woman of color, I NEVER shared HER personal experience. Now some will say that sometimes being dark has an advantage, and dark people will immediately (and rightfully so) tell them to go fuck themselves.
I was picked on for being “too white” as a child when I attended majority Black schools. But, let’s be honest here, I can truthfully say that out here in the world, I have not faced certain disadvantages because of my complexion. I am sure there have been times where my appearance has made non-POC more “comfortable” than my darker brothers and sisters.
Now, please, do not comment and tell me that I am ashamed of my light skin, or that I am no better than others who are trying to divide Black folk further. That is simply not true. What I do know is when I am the only Black person in an environment, I will receive the “treatment” from non-POC. What I also know, however (and have witnessed first hand), is when a darker person is on the scene, I get a bit of a buffer (a BIT).
I never used that to my advantage, but I was subconsciously (and at times consciously) aware of it. I also know my darker brothers and sisters are aware of this too, and sometimes it causes them to mistreat me as well because the object of their anger is an oppressor who could fire, maim, or even kill them. So, yes, I get it.
I also know that my DNA is 76% African whether people can see it or not. I know who I am. I know that when the shit hits the bricks (as it has increasingly done in this country) that before anything else, I am Black in my eyes, my people’s eyes, and in the eyes of society.
But I what I CANNOT do, refuse to do, is lie to myself about variations in the way we are treated in this country. There have been countless studies and scholarly research on whites’ efforts to breed with us in order to (at some point) completely remove all traces of Black from the population. It was done in Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica, and Australia as a rule of law. Of course it didn’t work due to genetics, but they were too uneducated to know that.
“Negro blood is sure powerful, because just one drop of black blood makes a colored man. One drop, you are a Negro! . . . Black is powerful.”
Then, other countries, like the United States, prohibited racial mixing and figured they would just annihilate us with lynching, poverty, drugs, and other forms of overt and institutional racism. No matter what has been done to us, we are HERE, and we WILL continue to exist. This is ALL due to the magical practices of our people, our Ancestors, and our close bond with The Creator. Most brainwashed Black folks out here are still marveling why we still exist, but I don’t.
The difference is, when I saw what I was doing, I checked myself and apologized.
You don’t have to feel guilty about your skin color, or the advantages that your Ancestors had over others, because of this privilege. All you have to do is acknowledge it, and become part of the solution rather than being part of the problem.
I am good when someone apologizes to me. I can either move on, or we can work together to repair the damaged/severed relationship. It may never be the same, but there can be resolution, closure, and peace.
The only problem is, most of the people I’ve severed ties with because of this have not apologized and jumped in to help.
I think if I asked them if they felt the same way, their answer would still be yes.