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Finding my voice

Friday, October 2, 2009

I’m really disappointed with myself tonight. The disappointment stems from my seemingly inability to open my mouth and speak words in a coherent sentence towards a group of people.

We watched a short 30 minute video tonight about the morbidity/mortality rates of infants born to African American women as compared to white women. The results were that black women were 3 times more likely to give birth prematurely than white women. It was assumed that the cause was due to socio-economic factors such as no healthcare, poor health, poverty, etc. It was posited that the statistics of the more wealthy and college educated black women would align more with the statistics of white women. It didn’t. The gap remained. This surprised and confused the doctors conducting the study. They hypothesized that racism may be the characteristic that caused the numbers.

Afterwards, we went to seminar. And for the first 30 minutes the conversation was a big display of various people playing oppression politics. There were roughly about 25 people in the room, 2 of us were nonwhite. All I kept thinking was, “why is it when the topic of racism within a specific topic comes up, everyone immediately tries to discredit it?” I wanted to say something, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to say and so in the end, I said nothing. At some point, the other woman of color, said something like, “well, I’ve never experienced racism directed towards me. I think it’s generational.” and I wanted to ask her, so does that mean it doesn’t exist then? If you haven’t personally experienced something, does that invalidate my experiences?

Part of it’s fatigue. I definitely got the sense that the professor wanted me to jump in and say more but I just didn’t have it in me. I was too sure that my comments would be dismissed. That silencing tactics would be used. That we’d get to play a round of BINGO. And that was wrong of me, I don’t know them. I don’t know that that is what would have happened. I wish I had more faith in people, and I feel guilty that I automatically assume that they’ll let me down.

Class is over for this week, and I have my readings to do for Tuesday, we don’t meet for seminar again until Thursday. I’m hoping that I can find my voice in this class and share my perspective in these issues. I’m always lamenting the fact that black female voices are marginalized, erased or ignored. I have an opportunity to fill that void in my educational environment and I should take it. Til next time…

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