Thank You for Reminding Me I Don’t Matter

sit-down-shut-up

Hey Facebook friends,

Do you realize when you knock the Black Matters Movement (as a whole) or the feminist movement (as a whole) or any kind of movement seeking to give voice to the marginalized, you are telling me:

“Sit down, shut up, your opinions don’t matter and neither do you”?

Do you realize you’re doing the same thing when a white policeman kills a black man and you immediately react by justifying his actions? Not by calling for a stop to these kinds of events, not by mourning another black life lost, not by calling for a reform of the law enforcement system as it is being abused by some of those in power, not by asking the policemen you know and support to stand up against what is happening, but by blaming the dead person? How often do you blame countries being bombed or targeted by terrorist attacks? I’m not saying every black person shot by a white policeman was innocent. I’m not saying some of them did not act in ways that required them by law to be shot. What I am saying is what your Facebook posts are telling me:

“Sit down, shut up, your opinions don’t matter and neither do you.”

Do you realize when post comments complaining that people are harping on race issues or gender inequality issues that don’t exist that you are telling me, “Shut up, your problems aren’t real. Your struggles are all in your head”? Do you realize when you complain about the new emphasis on diversity in the job place, you are telling me I shouldn’t be considered for jobs that otherwise wouldn’t see me because of my gender and/or skin color? Do you realize when you complain about the call for diversity in film and TV, you are telling me I don’t deserve to have people that look like me on screen unless they’re fulfilling some small stereotypical or supporting role?

“Sit down, hush up, your opinions don’t matter and neither do you.”

Maybe you argue, you’re racially color-blind. You don’t see me as black. Great. I don’t primarily identify as black. I see myself as a human being, a child of God, an American, a woman, a friend, a daughter, a sister and more before I see myself as black. But I don’t have the luxury of putting that perception onto other people. I don’t get to pretend I’m not black or identify as black only when I feel like it. When I walked down Hollywood Blvd the other night, I didn’t get to keep other people from lumping me in with the rowdy black guys on the street corner trying to sell them things. People see me as black because I am. These issues affect me because I’m African American. Me, Cassondra Barnes. These issues affect me because I’m a woman. I don’t get to change that. I don’t get the benefit of walking in a room and being judged as a human. I have the benefit of people noting that I’m a black female, bringing in all their preconceived notions, and then hoping they’ll stick around long enough for me to prove them wrong.

The next time you type up a post supporting a political candidate or movement that stands against supporting the rights of minorities, maybe you should set aside your color-blinders and scan through your friends list. Just briefly. Are there any women, people of color, immigrants, people of a different faith than you, someone with a disability, etc? Before you hit “post” stop and ask yourself, are you ready to tell them:

“Sit down, shut up, your opinions don’t matter and neither do you”

Or would you rather set aside the keyboard and actually listen to what they have to say?

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