Privacy is a privilege. It is rarely enjoyed by women or transgender men and women, queer people or people of color. When you are an Other, you are always in danger of having your body or some other intimate part of yourself exposed in one way or another. A stranger reaches out and touches a pregnant woman’s belly. A man walking down the street offers an opinion on a woman’s appearance or implores her to smile. A group of teenagers driving by as a person of color walks on a sidewalk shout racial slurs, interrupting their quiet.
For most people, privacy is little more than an illusion, one we create so we can feel less vulnerable as we move through the world, so we can believe some parts of ourselves are sacred and free from uninvited scrutiny. The further away you are from living as a white, heterosexual, middle-class man, the less privacy you enjoy – the more likely your illusions of privacy will be shattered when you least expect it.
“Black women have not focused sufficiently on our need for contemplative spaces. We are often “too busy” to find time for solitude. And yet it is in the stillness that we also learn how to be with ourselves in a spirit of acceptance and peace. Then when we re-enter community, we are able to extend this acceptance to others. Without knowing how to be alone, we cannot know how to be with others and sustain the necessary autonomy. Yet, many of us live in fear of being alone. To meditate, to go into solitude and silence, we find a way to be empowered by aloneness.”—bell hooks in Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery (144)
“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”—
Black women are expected and in fact encouraged to assume a kind of mercurial hysteria surrounding dating.
We are supposed to deal with “reality” which is that we are ugly and unwanted. But we are supposed to exude confidence because women with low self esteems are pathetic. But then we can’t exude too much confidence because there comes the meme about the independent Black woman who don’t need no man.
We are supposed to be loyal to Black men. But we are expected to deal with the “reality” that there are not enough good ones to go around. We are supposed to desire Black men exclusively, but we are encouraged to believe that Black men do not make good partners because they are hyper-masculine and violent or because they hate dark skin and natural hair. We normalize whiteness by making it seem like white men are above and beyond the pitfalls of internalizing white supremacy that apparently too many Black men are wrapped up in.
Black love is tested on every side at the cost of Black women and men.