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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Acute Minority Status Attack

Last night my husband and I went to see a comedian at the Buell theatre.  We were really pysched because magic happened when we were looking for tickets.  We kept searching and searching and finally on the fifth try I got tickets in orchestra section.  Imagine our surprise when we were seated in the third row from the stage!  That was awesome, and now I am inspired to search for tickets to other concerts we are interested in attending.

But that is not the basis of this post.  This post is about the other surprise I had at the concert.  One that knocked me off my ass and made me stand up for myself. 

The comedian is a nationally known act.  We never once gave a thought to the potential audience that would attend the concert.  Imagine my shock when we arrived at the Buell theatre, which seats almost 3,000 people and I was the only Black face in the crowd.  The "ONLY".  Imagine my horror as we sat down in the third row and I thought "uh-oh" this could be bad (My husband thinking the same thing) that my uniqueness could end up as part of the comedy act.  Thankfully that never happened, but it took a lot for me to stay present in the show as I vascilliated between fear of being called out and fear of what the fuck am I doing here?

I live in a predominantly Anglo state.  I know that.  I'm married to an Irish-Scottish American.  Yep got that too.  But rarely do I find myself the ONLY brown face in a crowd or at an event. It was scary, it was creepy.  I kept looking for another me but I never saw one.

I've been blessed that in my 50 years of living I've not been the victim of overt racisim.  Subtle racisim sure, but I never let it slow me down.  But last night was different.  I felt fear in my cells.  Cellular memories surfaced that have nothing to do with my lifetime, but the lifetimes of my ancestors.  Nobody was mean or rude to me last night, but no one was openly friendly either.  I could feel looks of "what are you doing here".  I just tried to hold it together, when my fight or flight instincts were going into overdrive.

Funny thing though, that incident last night made me think about situations in my life where I have been unwilling to stand up for myself.  Situations were I have played victim when really I have the strength and courage to strong.

I've learned to be a people pleaser.  Perhaps people pleasing and being a minority go hand in hand.  "Hey, just don't make waves and try to get along".  Its easier.  But where does that actually get you?  Or some folks go the other way and walk around with chips on their shoulders, but that's no fun to be around either.  So there must be a balance.  Sometimes you go with the flow and sometimes you just have to say, that's enough of that!

So I said to myself after feeling fear in a new way, "that's enough of that!" and took care of some long standing issues that had been festering.  Interesting how an acute attack of minority status brought me to strength.

End Trans.

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