FATIGUE: WHY DO I ALWAYS HAVE TO EXPLAIN WHY RACE MATTERS?
Lately, I’ve grown tired of trying talking about race to people who don’t think it’s important. It’s not that I’ve changed my mind, that I no longer think race is an important topic of conversation, but I’m kind of wary of being categorized as crazy or extreme because I keep emphasizing that race factors into a lot of important aspects of our society.
I always get the “Why do you always have to talk about race?” question. Or the “Whoa, no one said anything about race” admonition.
The fact of the matter is that, even in a country with an historic presidency where race is at the forefront of our daily conversation about who we are, race is still not a comfortable topic in this country. As a matter of fact, I wager that in most places you can’t even get to the point where you even have conversation about race before getting shut down — and even if you do, it’s bound to become either a shouting match or a blame game. And I’m certainly not interested in either.
I’m a light skinned Mexican American woman with green eyes, so, when I talk about race I’m not interested in accusing people of discriminating against me. That would be a bit foolish on my part. Rather, I want to talk about why it is that Latinos on the whole don’t have health insurance, or aren’t graduating college or lack access to broadband Internet.
These issues don’t exist because of a racist. They exist because of systematized racism that allows us all to accept things are “normal,” when in fact they are the creations of our own society and cultural expectations. Just because you talk about race, it doesn’t mean you are trying to point the finger at people for being racists. I only wish I could get more people to understand this nuance.
I was sharing a particular conversation of this type that I had recently with a group of other Latinas who sympathized and identified with both my experience, and the inevitable consequence: being labeled as “overreacting” or “sensitive.” I’m so tired of having to scream at the top of my lungs about these things only to be relegated to madness or a lack of self-control. I’m tired of having to point out flaws in logic or oversights in consideration about issues that anyone who graduated college in this country would have learned about in high school or college. Most of all, I’m tired of being accused of race baiting when I’m just trying to broaden the conversation.
But, one of them told me, if you don’t bring it up, who will? The answer, unfortunately, is no one. So fatigued or not, it looks like I’m going to keep having to talk about race after all.