Anti-Blackness Thrives in Silence: Reflections of a Former Black Goth Girl [Part 2] by Terris Carter

 Read part 1 of Anti-Blackness Thrives in Silence: Reflections of a Former Black Goth Girl.

Looking back on that time of my life, I have so many questions. How was it that I didn't recognize that the behavior was problematic? Why was I so keen on acceptance from white people? I realize now that there were a lot of variables at play, but a lot of it was because there were no real discussions about race at the time. I mean I knew that there were racists, but I had white friends. Segregation was over, MLK had a dream that we could all coexist peacefully, so that's what I was doing. I was peaceful, placated. Trying to cram racism in an overflowing closet of atrocities humans have committed against each other was not helpful. Is a more nuanced conversation about racism the answer? Should we forget about BLM, and leave these conversations for families to have?

But how can there be nuance when we've just started talking?
Medical students believe 
that black people feel less pain, leading to poor outcomes in health care settings. How can there be nuance when medical students are primarily taught how to diagnose diseases on white skinHow can we attempt to silence BLM, when there are still so many disparities? What is this sudden concern about black youth, but not the adults who raise them? I can't help but feel that this is a perfect example of the white moderate who holds order over justice: things aren't as bad as they were so keep quiet. A child is starving in Africa, so you can't be THAT hungry. What about child sex trafficking? You're worried about racism and not children getting abused. Racism hasn't affected YOU too badly so why rock the boat? 

But racism has affected me, in ways more insidious than one would believe.

Artwork by Hunni
For a long time I felt the need to act a certain way around white people in both professional 
and private settings. I already knew what they must really think of black people, so I had to prove time and time again that I was one of the "good" ones. I had to be a spokesperson for my race in new settings. For what? I'm not sure. Part of it is survival - if white people think I'm harmless they're less likely to bother me. Personal update: Do I feel the need to be the spokesperson for my race? Sometimes, but not as strongly as I used to. Do I still want white acceptance? Not in the slightest.

I do tend to believe white people have implicit biases about black people, I'm usually
right. Do I hate white people? No. Do some white people frustrate me? Yes. Some conversations I have had with white men - not just the man I mentioned in the beginning - make me feel that (some) white people just want to shut the conversation about racism down.

Photo by Miki Jourdan
Because I haven't been lynched or had a hate crime committed against me, it's like they just want me to shut up about it. When I attempt to talk about how I feel or unpack stereotypes, they'll
say they've been stereotyped too. They'll compare the color of my skin to tattoos they chose to put on their bodies. They'll say well people stereotype me too… it's like it hasn't occurred to them that was their decision. They'll even say well a black guy said he doesn't trust me because I'm white…. As if the last 400 years don't support that. They'll say well sometimes people don't like me because they think I look like a cop. As if that's a bad thing. Yes, cops have committed obvious atrocities, but in general being a cop is still looked on as a noble, honorable and respected position. As a Black woman, the only "good" stereotype is that we're strong. And because of this, you're not likely to give weight to any of my grievances. I'm a strong black woman, I can handle it, right?

Artwork by Hunni
BLM is necessary because it brings attention to issues that have gone undiscussed for so long. If it weren't for BLM, I probably wouldn't be writing this. If it weren't for BLM, I probably wouldn't have had the conversations I've had surround race the past year. I hope that young black people don't feel hopeless. I want them to feel empowered by the movement and know that they can still make it.

Terris is a proud nerd, practitioner of Muay Thai, friend, caregiver, and amateur writer living in Philadelphia. All photographs of her in this post are used with her permission. This is her second piece for PEB. Fighting That Bitch Depression was her first.

All the awesome artwork in this post by Hunni, with her permission. Hunni is an illustrator who loves working with pastels and soft neons. She will soon be releasing merch to further push diversity in alt fashion spaces. Follow her on IG @itshunnib and sign up for her mailing list!