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Reflection of Race A State of Emergency

Written By: aaminahm on February 21, 2010 1 Comment

Yesterday I was in Target shopping for a baby shower card with two friends that I’ve know since grade school.  My friend Tasha wondered aloud why there were no cards that represented black babies in the general baby shower gift card section. All of the cards had pictures of little white children, or animal figures. I happened to find a card which had a cover photo of this adorable little brown baby boy. “Here’s one” I said.  I felt satisfied to have found this baby boy because it was like finding my reflection.

We wandered over to the “Mahogony” rows and looked at all of the cards, there.  Tasha, Erika and I noticed our brown baby boy sitting in front of a thick stack of cards with his image. He was located with other chocolate babes, dancing ebony women, powerful sugar plum men, and  endearing honeysuckle lovers holding hands as they walked along the beach. Tasha remarked, “No, he’s here I think that one card was out of place.”

It got me thinking about myself , wondering, questioning, am I out of place? What am I doing here at Berkeley in graduate school, one of a handful of African Americans? Should I really have the goal of attaining the Ph.D? And when I do, will I see my reflection, or some other?

Yesterday, I was shocked to find out that the Black Student Union at UCSD called a State of Emergency after local fraternities held an event called the “Compton Cookout” in celebration of Black History Month. They sent out an invitation urging individuals to act ignorant, wear cheap clothing, and bring coolade and watermelon to the party. I was stunned. When the black students called on the administration for support they were told that nothing could be done because the event was held off campus. A group called the Koala went on Student Run TV calling the black students “ungrateful niggers.”

Reading about this I saw myself reflected in those black students. They have…we have… I have…worked so hard. Yet we are still being targetted.  It’s just demoralizing. I was instantly reminded of the day my father told me that Don Imus called the Rutger’s Women’s Basketball team a bunch of “nappy headed hoes.” As we watched the press conference I  began to cry.  I  saw me up there. I saw my reflection being dehumanized.

Now here I stand. Half of my days are spent proving my worth, the other half are spent convincing myself that I don’t have to prove myself.  So here I am, split in half. Where is my complete reflection? I can’t locate it in this aisle.

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One Response to “Reflection of Race A State of Emergency”

  1. Nora Kenney on: 21 February 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Thank u for this powerful and brave post, Aaminah. Grad school and academia tested/tests my confidence in complex multiple ways on a daily basis…although I see reflections of my physical self and Whiteness all around, there are always doubts related to self-perceived inadequacies. It’s the nature of the beast, an ugly one with big sharp hungry fangs. To have those “inadequacies” perpetuated by ubiquitous notions of White as norm must suck to a degree I cannot fathom, but only through u and people like u can these norms be questioned and upended. Keep on keepin on, as my friend’s computer would tell her every 15 minutes as we struggled to write our dissertations together. U are not alone-in the fight with yourself and against ignorance.

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