Dear Young Men of Color: Overcoming Oppression

Dear Young Men of Color: Overcoming Oppression March 30, 2015
[Image is a screenshot from Fong Tran’s spoken word titled, “Dear Young Men of Color,” which inspired the title of this post]

When you recognize your subjection to a racist reality, that shit will break you. It’s traumatic, literally. It shatters your overall sense of basic trust, or what’s left of it from past subjection to an oppressive society. You don’t know which way is up or which way is down. Not to mention the fact that you are re-confronting past racism that over elongated periods of time and exposure; it’s all overwhelmingly and psychologically destructive.

I mean, not to state the obvious, but it’s depressing to realize that the system is egregiously set up against specific groups and sects of society – let alone set up against you, to oppress you, and keep you small. The statistics are paralyzing.

It’s like The Matrix when Neo (Keanu Reeves) wakes up in a present dystopia; it’s also nothing like it, so follow me here. As people of color (POC), to learn about, and engage in issues and topics such as racial oppression, this is like taking the blue pill, or did he take the red one…? Either way, you get what I’m saying. When you take that pill and enter into that dystopia, everything starts to make sense, while simultaneously, everything begins to fall apart… and there isn’t anything you can do about it.

Nothing will prepare you for what you already know.

What breaks you, or rather, what broke me [and still does] was not just the confirmation of systemic racism, oppression, and violence, it was the fact that Christian people didn’t give a fuck about the effects of systemic racism, oppression, and violence. For instance, these types are more offended right now by me saying “fuck” than they are by the oppressive and heart-breaking reality of systemic racism.

I agree largely with Brené Brown, in that the path to healing is empathetic community. Unfortunately, research has shown that whites not only lack empathy for those who do not share the same race, but they also believe they are subjected to more racism and oppression than people of color. I know, wtf?

So the question is, “How then do we thrive in a society that is not only lacking in empathy, but does not acknowledge our oppressive reality?”

Paul Tough says it’s grit, Andrew Solomon says the answer is vitality; I think it’s grit, vitality, and a hundred other factors. One of those “factors” I’d say is luck. I say that with hesitance, because it has depressing realities to it; there are some who are simply “unlucky,” even more depressingly is by “some” I mean most.

If you’ve ever experienced depression, you can understand that some mornings when you wake up, the choice to simply get out of bed and make a bowl of cereal if fucking incredible. So, to not just get out of bed, but to walk out the front door, work a 9-5 job, get into and competitive college [and graduate]… that takes more than grit, vitality, and luck; when all of society is set up against you, it takes a fucking emotional gladiator.

Here’s the good news about all of this:

Our world’s population is rapidly increasing, it’s nearly quadrupled over the last century [1.8 billion to 6.9 billion]. Meaning, the number of people of color in our world, specifically in North America, is growing rapidly. Especially since interracial dating has been deemed acceptable by most Christian institutions that did not believe otherwise.

Yes, then again when “white people” came to the states they were the minority, and things turned out alright for them. But sometimes in order to prevail, we gotta ignore the burden reality found in our countries history.

Times are changing. The Internet, it’s empowering. It gives the oppressed person a voice that wouldn’t otherwise have one, or in the past been able to realistically obtain one. Today, it’s not only happening, but its not unrealistic for it to happen to us. For instance, this blog. The Church refused to give me a voice let alone a platform, so I created my own. You and I can google, and therefore, find other’s that feel and have experienced exactly all that you and I have felt and experienced, but the privileged will forever deny. That might sound small, but never under estimate the power behind knowing that we’re not alone in our suffering.

This was messy, and I didn’t proof read this until after I posted it. But my point is simple: Men of Color, keep going, you and I are not alone – we have each other.

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