There was a rancid stigma tiptoeing in the background; a populated injustice I had no direct evidence existed. It was by oath, visual and word by others that I’d come to learn of it. Never had it appeared before me in black and white; only in debatable greyish hints with specks of secondary colour.
I’d baked and bathed in privilege from the time I was, identified as an empowered black woman. A fight fought, not by me, but for me. Faking scarification in conversation and handheld book by Angela Davis and Audre Lorde. Forged an idealistic allegiance through vinyl records and Spotify playlists of Nina, Makeba and Odetta. It was their battle, someone else’s problem.
A part of me I never dared speak about debated its truth. For how could hate for a people based on a physical trait, a thing so inconsequential be real?
Was it ego isolation, arrogance and/or ignorance on my part? With no battlefields in close proximity, no enemies dressed in white pointed hats, only city streets wrapped in idealistic authentic expression, I asked, why fight? Why ask and segregate myself amongst those who shared in complexion?
It remained a distant unrecognized, and on this day especially so. We’d just learned my partner had a month or three to live. So navel gazing, work-related inquiry and exploring shelved ideas on racism seemed inconsequential. Little else mattered as I entered the tram bound for home.
“Go back to where you came from Blackie!” yelled the old, Trump-haired man near the door. Initially, I questioned whether or not the comment was directed at me but his glare erased any doubt. Intense rage took over my entirety and I unleashed the overwhelming sensation by shouting out, “I will fuck you up!”
The commuters went silent. The driver stopped the tram and asked that I leave. At this point several camera phones were pointed in my direction.
I had two options, stay and assert my position or leave. I opted for the latter but not before pushing the old man to the ground. Gasps, profane rumbles and glares from the commuters trailed as I ran out of the tram.
In that moment I was no longer an empowered cisgender woman; I was the black woman who’d overreacted.
The next day plastered in virtual worlds and social media platforms were images of me, hashtag ‘angryblackbae’ with comment after comment on black female drama, a few on elderly abuse and even fewer on racism.
What I’d once doubted had become a constant in central vision; a daily recognised in the stares and whispers of others. My ‘angryblackbae’ persona living on past the life of my lover.
What next? I’d lost him. How was I to move forward? By engaging in an online cold war? Ignoring, accepting and/or ruminating? Whatever the case, I could no longer deny it… I finally understand racism, in true black and white.