[Publisher’s Note:] When I started my blog EgbertoWillies.com previously known as PoliticialTruths.info which I published under the pseudonym TolerantLiberal over a decade ago, I promised then that when I reached enough people, I would open it to people who otherwise do not get a voice in publications with sufficient circulation to at least get some eyeballs. I have been doing that since. Moreover as my radio/media program, Politics Done Right has matured, I promised to make it a program where anyone who had something to say of substance irrespective of ideology could use our platform to do just that. Of course, respect and civility are expected as demonstrated by all of my guests.
The following article from Jude touched me, and I wanted to publish it as soon as she sent it. It will be uncomfortable for many to read, but I ask you to read it in its entirety. She articulates some realities that people of color experience. Even as this subtle and sometimes not so subtle form of racism affects them to the inner core, to so many people, non-POCs, it does not even phase their realities because the modus operandi is automatic, no deeper thinking required. At some time I will write my own experiences which, while I’ve told close friends, my always-forward attitude turned me into one who basks in overcoming them in my own volition. For me, it is more potent than any aphrodisiac I’ve tried. I re-lived so much though, as I read Jude’s story and it is clear the pain lives on without real closure.
White progressives/liberals/anti-Trumpers seem to think that bridging “race” is about “loving” Black folks unconditionally. Maybe it’s the unacknowledged Christian subtext that #WhiteSupremacy and #AntiBlackness are founded on and the idea of #NordicJesus being all gentle and shit that makes y’all think that love is what Black folks want from y’all. To be clear, loving people, you’ve been programmed by our culture, to hate, is hard.
I keep hearing in my head a conversation I had with a gay white man in his 70s after speaking at Grace Episcopal Church in Allentown in 2016. He was struggling to tell me how much the maid who took care of him meant to him; how his parents tried to get her to move with them when they left the south.
And for him that was a sign of love–that they wanted her, a Black woman in Amerikkka, to leave the town she had been born and raised in, where she had family and community support, to follow white folks up North, where she’d be alone. But for me, it was a reminder that he was unwilling to see how what he thought to be love was rooted in a power dynamic he failed to name.
His parents wanted their maid to come with them cause it would make their life easier. The impact of that move on her didn’t enter into their equation, cause her life, her community, had no inherent value in their eyes.
And I want to clarify that though many resilient, resourceful Black women and I may appear to walk on water, none of us do, not even if we’re “internationally known on the microphone” and named Beyoncé or Serena or Rihanna. Rich, educated Black women with Ph. Ds are 3 to 4 times more likely to die in childbirth than a poor white woman with a high school diploma due to structural racism. Multiple studies have proven that this is based on the stress we carry.
We just as broken, have all the mess and suffer all the pain white women suffer coupled with the added baggage of being both Black and female. Being internationally known doesn’t prevent the disrespect—see the attack on Serena’s catsuit, see the foot faults that rear their ugly heads when she’s on the verge of winning, see the referee accusing her of cheating.
Every Black woman’s life is constantly beset by both racism annnnd sexism, even more for our trans sisters whose burdens also include transphobia. That’s what intersectionality is about. That racism, sexism and transphobia work like compound interest except in reverse. Which is why the median wealth for the average Black woman is $5 dollars. Yeah you read that right. And I can personally testify to it being true.
I can’t tell you the number of WW who slide in my DMs every week asking me to “teach” them.
This year I’ve been responding that I’m happy to consider teaching a group of 8-12 who want to learn and attaching my rate. And that’s all it takes, a request for monetary recompense for the emotional labor you want from me, to send them scattering like roaches, once the light gets turned on.
I’m not giving my time and my emotional labor away for free anymore.
I haven’t always had such clarity. The CEO of Planned Parenthood Keystone asked me to come up with a vision and a plan for a year long training on equity and inclusion. I presented her with a full proposal for $120,000 (not even as much as Tim Wise’s speakers fee of $150,000) speech. She hemmed and hawed and we narrowed it down to creating a customized equity presentation for her organization, with input from a core team of 4-5 people, for $10,000, with the idea that we would work on fundraising for the total cost of the proposal.
I spent from September through December meeting with her and her team. In December, I not only delivered the presentation I was contracted to do, but at her request did a 2 hour training that turned into a 3 hour training, for her senior and executive leadership team of 15-20 staff members. Her staff raved about the training and were excited about the calendar of monthly trainings we were setting up for the upcoming months.
A week later, when I reminded the CEO that our contract was complete after leading a training for their equity committee, and were set to go ahead eifhy a full day training for the entire Board of Directors, I received an email from her, not even a phone call, offering me $5,000 for a scope of work that included 2 Board trainings, monthly trainings for the equity committee, and an all staff all day training.
I was blindsided to say the least that a woman I considered a partner in the work of justice would send such an offer. I let myself feel the full scale of the violence that offer had on my soul and a day later responded with my own email detailing how she’d devalued me and my work. I anticipated that she would call me back and we’d have a difficult but frank conversation. Instead, she responded once again via email, with this: that she needed to be a “careful steward of PPKey’s resources,” and if I “still want[ed] to do the [work]? If not, [she continued] I will need to make other arrangements pretty quickly with our other presenters.”
And for the first time in my life, though I needed every penny of what she was going to pay me, I said no to white supremacy and to white feminism. A friend asked me later why I didn’t negotiate further and my answer was and is, that I’d rather be broke and busted and be able to look myself in the mirror than hate myself for accepting a price so low and as a result lose my enthusiasm and begin to phone it in.
Cause where do you go from an offer calculated on the hourly rate of being in the room without any thought to how much prep time it takes to get to the room and how much emotional labor I expend while in the room.
Carol Frances Dixon–my partner of twenty years and an amazing writer, teacher and editor passed away almost six years ago. She used to tell me that sometimes a writer has to be willing not to be published if the terms are unjust. Her words gave me the courage to walk away from an organization that clearly didn’t value equity or me enough to make funding the full vision a priority.
Money, I say again, is the fastest way to make emerging “anti-racists” scatter. Cause how dare I want to be paid what I’m worth to hand hold her, her staff and her Board, to teach them not just facts but deep vulnerability and openheartedness and challenge them to unravel the threads of #toxicwhiteness, the underlying matrix/programming governing all our lives, that would set them free.
Just for the record, I’m not Morpheus and they and you are not Neo. If you want to see how far the rabbit hole goes, it costs me emotionally in ways you can’t begin to imagine.
I don’t need white people to love me. I don’t need more white “friends” who will tell me in private that they support me, while refusing to do so publicly.
If yall want to learn from me, what I need is for y’all to pay me. That’s it. End of story.
And if you don’t value what I’m teaching enough to pay me, but still continue to seek my support, validation and comfort that you’re not like “those” white people, I’ve got news for you, you iz replicating the violence your ancestors inflicted on mine, by stealing our labor without recompense. Like sister Sweet Brown said, “ain’t nobody got time for that.”
And just cause I’m Black doesn’t mean every conversation we have, has to center on some Black thing you learned or saw or experienced. Like hey while I was sitting in this sushi place waiting for you, you know, I said hi to the little Black boy and he said hi and I gushed at him so his mama would know IIII wasn’t one of “those” racists.
I hate that shit. Unequivocally.
All I want, and all most of my sisters I engage with, want, is to exist and breathe and be. We don’t want special treatment. We just want you to treat me and to treat us like you treat any white person you interact with.
Start by questioningthe reasons you recoil from paying me and people who look like me? Would you ask a white equity trainer and speaker like Tim Wise to teach you for free? And since, dear Reader, you and I both know the answer to that question is no, then show me and show us, that same respect.
I don’t want to be your resident Black expert, I just want to live. Without the daily weight of carrying your feelings on my back. I just want to work and get paid what I’m worth.