Being oppressed, no matter what demographic you fall within, is a dehumanizing experience. Like all traumas, we all process things differently. For some of us, when we experience being oppressed, we actively do everything within our power to stop it from happening to others. Because we understand what it does to you negatively as a person, we would never inflict that on another and actively engage in destroying systems of oppression. However, there are some of us that choose to take a different path; the path of actually wanting to become the oppressor.
There are so few Black people that make it out of the hood and actually become successful or famous to any degree. Usually whenever there is a person that does make it, there is sometimes an unspoken burden that some people feel based on a sense of loyalty to their inner circle; the people who supported the rising star when they were unknown to the larger world. The person who "made it" sometimes mistakenly feels that because a partner was with them when they were unknown, they are a "real one" and can be trusted to go with the them into the life of celebrity or success. Some of them feel that the friends they had from a young age are their "true" friends and would never take advantage of or use them. And of course, where would any of us be without our family? The people who knew us before anyone knew us. These three types of relationships truly get tested whenever a person who has these types of people in their circle becomes substantively successful.
Very little surprises me these days when it comes to anything dealing with racism, white supremacy or white privilege. I’m even less surprised by the ruthlessness that is the American capitalistic economy and what it breeds in some people. But I must admit, when I first heard that Wall Street, big banks and wealthy investors were making hundreds of millions of dollars off of police brutality cases, it not only brought American capitalism to an all time low in my eyes but reminded me that this is really nothing new. The history of this country was built on stealing lands and stealing people to build the “American Dream.” That system has flourished for 401 years. Why should the fact that some white people continue to make money off of the backs and deaths of Black people be any surprise when there is a racist in the oval office?
“The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.” Malcolm X said these words in 1962. 58 years later, nothing has changed. At all. As a matter of fact, one could make the argument that with the advent of the internet and social media, it’s probably gotten worse. The Black woman’s body for centuries has been a topic of ridicule, scorn, lust and fetishization from both Black and white men and white women. The Black woman’s intellect even more so. Black women have been ridiculed as not being as smart as Black men, when according to the National Center for Education Statistics, Black women make up 64% of all bachelor’s degrees earned by Black people in the United States, and 67% of all associates degrees earned, statistically speaking. Black women have also been leading revolutions and carrying on movements when Black male leaders were either slain or imprisoned. The burden of the colour of our skin that we have had to shoulder, amassed with having to raise families, take care of elders and maintain social standing and our mental health is and has been beyond taxing.
Yesterday was the day some people recognize and celebrate as Columbus Day in the United States. In Canada, it was the federally recognized holiday of Thanksgiving. In both countries however, there are others (myself included) who recognize and celebrate Indigenous People’s Day. For us, this is a day of reconciliation, education, acknowledgement, celebration and accompliceship.
I was listening to an interview that Sean Combs a.k.a. Diddy recently did with Charlamagne Tha God, in which he was reflecting on how no matter how successful people like Jay-Z, Oprah and himself are, when they walk into the rooms of corporate companies, they are still treated like N*****. He referred to the few Black people that make it as “an illusion of inclusion,” that he was afraid that the Black community would potentially fall into because they see the Oprah’s and Tyler Perry’s, Dr. Dre’s and Jay-Z’s of the world and think we’ve made it as a people. This made me reflect on my time in the corporate world and how this definitely applied in that setting.