• e.l.f. cosmetics

    the Other of the Other

    Hi, it’s your sister here. I wanted, no, I needed to get somethings off my chest. 

    When I say “you don’t support me” 
    I’m reflecting on the fact (and I use this term loosely) that the conversation seems to always be about you. I’m reflecting on conversations where my feelings have been invalidated because they questioned or challenged your experience. I’m reflecting on trying to discuss my issues with you, my Black brother, but often getting no where because your ears are closed to me. I’m remembering that Black women are being imprisoned at rates higher than Black men- but that the conversation around mass incarceration often centers your struggle. I’m remembering that Black women are being killed by police too – but that conversations about police brutality often only center my fallen brothers, not my fallen sisters. I’m wrestling with the experience of you often not hearing me, or telling me to choose between my race and my womanhood (and to put my race first). I’m wrestling with often holding you down in larger spaces, but rarely feeling that support in return. I’m wrestling with you derailing spaces I’ve created for myself with my sisters. I’m wrestling with the fact that I love you – that I support you, that I want to see you succeed. But, I’m also struggling with your adherence to patriarchy, your sometimes inability to see me. 

    I recognize that it is very hard to be a Black man in America. I know that they’re killing you in these streets, often before you even have a chance to become a man. I know that you’re struggling to graduate from college, or even to make it out of high school. I know that you’re tired of people crossing the street when they see you coming because they think that you’re dangerous. I know that you’re being imprisoned and subsequently dehumanized upon your release. You’re tired of hearing Black women say “niggas ain’t shit.” You want me as your sister to love you, uplift you, support you, and respect you because you’re often struggling to get that from the “outside world.” 

    I promise I’m not trying to play oppression olympics here…But, my brothers, I need you to hear me too. I need you to love me, uplift me, support me, respect me, and help me get free too. We are united through this melanin but our struggles are not always the same. And this melanin and this womanhood often puts me at an interesting intersection. You see, I can’t choose whether racism or patriarchy is important for me to fight against when both affect me. I can’t always justify focusing on your issues when I’m suffering too. I’m over-sexualized, assumed to be lazy, thought to be a bad mother and erased from history. I’m assumed to be a welfare queen or like the women seen on reality TV. They are killing me too. They are incarcerating me too. I’m struggling in school too. People don’t cross the street when I walk by, but sometimes, your species makes me want to cross to the other side of the road or avoid walking at certain times of the day or in certain types of outfits at all. 

    I need you to hear me. I need us to hear each other. 
    I get it. You’re the “Other” in society – today, tomorrow, and yesterday. But, I’m the “Other of the Other,” which honestly makes things even harder sometimes. 

    We are all that we’ve got. 
    So, when I say you don’t support me, instead of getting angry – maybe ask me why. Please don’t ask me to choose between my race and my gender. I really can’t afford to do that when I’m being oppressed on both sides. 

    I want to see you get free- but not to the detriment of me. 
    I hope we can learn and work together in ways that are for our mutual benefit. 
    I love you and I hope you feel the same about me. 

    And to all the black men that hold me down everyday, I see you. I appreciate you. I love you. 

    Gabrielle Hickmon
    Gabrielle Hickmon

    Find me on: Web | Twitter


    1 Comment

    1. Jakira
      March 19, 2015 / 5:42 am

      I loveeeeeee how you worded this entire piece. It’s so important that we have these conversations not only at Cornell, but at other institutions and even outside of them. I hope this gets people thinking.

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