Black people are exhausted, I know I am. We’re all tired because we waste so much time and potential dealing with White Supremacy. Not a day goes by that I don’t have to deal with something or someone, even if I don’t come in contact with a physically White person. Our kids’ time is wasted, our parents’ time is wasted, and all the potential snuffed out because White people get pleasure in keeping Black people out, behind, down, undermined, working harder, underemployed, unemployed, poorer, sicker, and unhealthier.
I really don’t know how White people look themselves in the mirror daily knowing they’ve had a hand personally in creating hardships for so many people. I’ve been thinking about how many ways our time is wasted and how s many of us aren’t able to live up to our full potential thanks to White Supremacy.
Our Time Is Wasted
Example 1: Every day I get up, I check my comments on my pieces and social media notifications. Every day I get racist comments. Every single day. I read them, they are absorbed into my spirit. It’s time wasted. White folks waste their time sending me the bullshit, and they waste my time putting it in my comments so I’ll have to receive them. The same with social media. Instead of browsing by comments they don’t like, White folks feel the need to verbally let me know they disagree with something I wrote. It’s wasted time. A wasted engagement that could have been used for someone actually trying to learn and engage respectfully.
Example 2: White folks create entirely fake profiles for the same of harassing us. The time we waste on White people playing stupid games we can never get back.
Example 3: If I have to stop, move, or wait on White people because they ignore/disrespect my personhood, impede my way, or if they make moving more difficult because they can, my time is wasted. Millions of non-White folks talk about the rudeness of White people and how inconsiderate White people are, always taking up too much space, and forever wasting Black folks’ time in the process. It’s the simple microaggressions that steal so much.
Example 4: I get on my scheduled conference call and for 3 hours, I’m interrupted by a rude White woman with a heavy Southern drawl. Every time we’re trying to speak, she cuts us off mid-sentence to say whatever she has on her mind. She’s so bad, the host of the conference has to stop her several times to ask her not to interrupt us. She continues anyway. When she cuts me off, my time is wasted, because I have to repeat my thoughts and contributions. Even when no one is speaking to her, she butts in, centers herself, and doesn’t keep up with the discussion. Her interruptions are costly, making the call go on longer than it should’ve. When Conference Karen doesn’t keep up, she wastes our precious time we could be using for other projects. The client is just one of several I have. It’s time no one has, but time White folks insist on taking.
Example 4: The rudeness of Whiteness takes away my time I could be using for other projects. I’ve noticed over the last four years White women in particular have been a lot ruder on my conference calls, asserting their privilege or space with no consideration for others in their space, and when there are more than one, Lord help us. Checking rude, unnecessary behavior is time and emotions not spent well. It’s time I can never get back.
Example 5: Racism and microaggressions have us repeating ourselves over and over again wasting time. It’s time I’ll never get back. Black people waste too much time fighting for things we shouldn’t have to. Readers can tell your stories below in the comments.
Example 6: Preparing my children constantly on being aware of the times we’re living in is time wasted. I spend time worrying about their well-being. I waste time giving different versions of the talk. We’re constantly comparing our racialized workplace experiences, sometimes venting, sometimes planning strategies for White fuckery, but it’s still wasted time we could’ve used discussing something pleasurable. My sons are stressed because of all the uncertainty and from being bombarded with racism at every turn in their everyday lives. They worry about jogging at night, driving, being in closed spaces with White women, racist supervisors, being perceived as threatening by White men, it’s never-ending.
Talking to my kids about racism all their lives instead of about living their full potential is wasted time none of us can ever get back.
Our Potential Is Wasted
Example 1: Our kids spend so much time in spaces with children and teachers who don’t care about them they focus on all sort of superficial metrics of success to impress peers. Our daughters worry about their hair, their bodies, their skin, and the way they speak because White people let them know early these things are problems for them. Since they hold the keys to everything, we often comply, going along to get along. We’re constantly morale-boosting and addressing self-esteem because Whiteness takes the time to make sure we know they don’t like us and that we’re different. We waste Black potential trying to appease superficial Whiteness.
Example 2: Black kids go to school for years learning about things that are irrelevant to them, things they’ll never use in their lives because some White people decided unimportant those things were necessary to succeed. The question is, succeed at what? Just imagine how successful our kids could be if schools spent time teaching them about business and taxes instead of making them read To Kill A Mockingbird or other books written by racist authors with racist subject matters. We waste Black kids’ time and potential teaching trash instead of skills needed to survive these racist states of America.
Example 3: Black people could be so much better off if we didn’t have White people working diligently daily to sabotage our potential. For example, White folks controlling algorithms control our communication. We could have more followers, reach more readers, and help more people if White people weren’t offended at the words, white people. We could be published and maybe even nationally known if White publishers wouldn’t have a strict preference for White writers and readers. White industries are always snuffing out our potential, then using us a metric or standard. “Look at how bad [the Blacks] faired in this area,”… of course we’re terrible. White folks make the playing field uneven so of course, we’re not as productive or as successful. Duh…
Example 4: White folks even teach their kids it’s okay to destroy potential early. They have reinforced in their kids it’s okay to bully Black and Brown kids in schools, discuss them as if they are inferior, and exclude them from White spaces ensuring our kids learn early they will be in a lower class. Schools reinforce this practice as well. The hours we spend teaching our kids to combat racism from young White kids is insane. Especially when the little White boys in the 5th grade calling our boys the N-word. When confronted, somehow their parents never know where their kids learned the behavior from. Look at Whiteness never taking responsibility for anything….
Example 5: We could have more individual and collective Black wealth if White folks didn’t work so hard to keep us out of certain employment opportunities, career fields, and out of government. We’re also led astray by employment forecasts and workforce development initiatives that direct us into fields that are not always in our best interests. Most times White America does what’s best for the economy. More wealth would mean we wouldn’t have to live paycheck to paycheck. We could have generational wealth to pass on to our family members as so many White people do. Maybe we could even close that wealth gap. When our potential is redirected or we’re misled by bad policies and inconsiderate racist practices, we can’t get out of poverty.
Example 6: We waste our time and potential getting out of tricks and traps White people create to keep us poor, like payday loans, and for-profit banking institutions that create balloon mortgages and all sorts of instruments that keep us poor and behind. When White people come up with their “products” they are instantly creating ways to trick up out of our hard-earned money.
Example 7: Our potential is snuffed out by unnecessary contact with law enforcement from over-policing Black communities. So many young Black people get criminal records for offenses that do nothing more than extract Black wealth while giving them unnecessary criminal records most will never be able to get rid of. White people do the same things we Black folks do in our communities and their “youthful indiscretions” aren’t given a second thought. Black and Brown potential is snatched so that White people can have it.
Example 8: The way America manages African-American issues snuffs out our potential. During slavery, southern plantation owners kept meticulous records on slaves measuring their productivity as they monitored their profits. Today, anytime White America is asked to do something for us to bring us up to similar economic, educational, and social standings of Whites, the costs and our expected productivity post-investment are the first questions White folks ask. White folks always want to know what’s the return on their investment when it comes to spending on noon-White minority groups, but especially Blacks and African-Americans. The way America pinches pennies to care for its longest historically neglected population has robbed all African Americans of our potentials.
Example 9: Black people could probably make it big if we didn’t have our work and ideas stolen. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had ideas stolen by White people or my proposals snatched by White folks who take credit, take raises, take promotions, and taking away opportunities for me to move up the corporate ladder. Even our language is hijacked and used by White folks for profit. When we use our words their bad. When White folks use them, they are profitable and the next cool thing. Potential is always fleeting.
Example 10: We carry trauma from Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome, and we pass bad health on from generation to generation. Black people never get a break from racism and microaggressions that impact everything from our physical health to our mental states. No one gives a darn. Black folks just gotta keep going like the Energizer bunny. Meanwhile, my White co-worker brags about taking psych meds to deal with her crying small children she begged her husband for and to deal with all the responsibilities of her otherwise good, wealthy life. The generational trauma and compounded trauma we carry robs of us our potential.
Example 11: I can’t tell you how much time I’ve wasted in my life trying to do all things required to be a success in a nation made for White people. Hair, clothes, language, culture, reading, education, you name it. It took me decades to figure out I’m never going to be good enough. As soon as I figured that lesson out and dumped religion my life got exponentially better. I’m sorry I didn’t learn the lesson sooner. Even when I made it (to the Promisedland that’s only for White and grandfathered folks), I was never happy. The American Dream is a nightmare because you have to do too much assimilating and forsaking to get there. It’s potential and time I could’ve invested in my own people and communities doing work that mattered, empowered, and improved the state of my collective — just like other groups currently do unabashedly.
Most Black people rarely get to make it through their lives without being inconvenienced by White people, White laws, or White Supremacy. We never get to be all we could be, because White people spend their lives collectively ensuring we don’t. Please don’t come with that Obama or other celebrity nonsense or I will make time to school you on why that’s not only inappropriate, it shows how little you White folks know your Blacks.
Black people are tired because White people collectively make us tired. Black people never live their full potential because White people spend a lifetime ensuring we don’t. Black people don’t have any more time to waste on White people’s shenanigans because we’ve already wasted so much time trying to live, love, and survive White people.
Fighting White Supremacy is an all-day, every-day, 24/7, 365 lifetime set of events and occurrences for each Black person that zap time, energy, emotions, and potential away from Black men, women, and children. We’re tired because we should be tired. It’s normal to be tired with the amount of physical, mental, and emotional work required to navigate White people, White mess, and White Supremacy.
The amount of attention given by White people collectively to disrupt the life of one single Black person is absurd. Every microaggression, every intentional racialized interaction, and every second spent dealing with White people’s problem with Black skin is time and potential we can never get back.
It takes a special kind of evil person to wake up every day with enough unwarranted hate in their heart and mind (consciously or subconsciously) to waste our precious time or snuff out our potential because they dislike the color of a non-White person’s skin.
I’ve never gotten up one day of my life and thought I’d not help a White rape victim because I thought a Black one should be treated better because of slavery. I have never declined to help a White parent enrolling their kid into college or misinformed a White college kid because I had the power not to do so. I’ve never decided to award only Black kids additional financial aid and not give any extra aid to White kids. I’ve never fought to keep White institutions from getting grant funds during federal review processes because they had millions and billions of dollars in endowments already and Black institutions didn’t. I’ve never allowed a door to close in an old White woman’s face because I felt I should punish her just because she was White and she “probably” was racist back in the day.
That’s such petty thinking, right? That’s also the kind of bullshit White people do to us.
Most Black people are living their lives just minding their business trying to survive the flaming arrows of hate, the obstacles, the slights, the lies, the stereotypes, other such microaggressions we may encounter from any random White person who wakes up and chooses silent violence against Black people.
We’re tired of wasting our time. We’re tired of not being able to live up to our full potential. We’re tired of our children being harmed emotionally. We’re tired of watching other Black people suffer from racism because when one suffers, we all suffer. We know what it feels like. Every day it’s micro or macroaggression different, but you better believe, it’s some sort of aggression involved.
It’s exhausting being Black in America. I literally can’t put words to how exhausting it is, but I tried.
To be Black is to be constantly tired, and never being able to definitively pinpoint the sources of the feeling. We experience so much trauma every day we need a lifetime of therapy, hospitalization, and world-class healthcare to recover from it. Most Black folks know we have a better chance of seeing White Jesus than receiving any type of helpful care from White folks.
If you’re Black and tired, I understand why. Just know I love you. I love us, imperfections and all. I hope you’re taking care of yourselves. We all need to take care of ourselves a little better right now. Give yourself a break. Don’t be so hard on you, on us. We’re dealing with trauma and we need to find ways to be filled with the love and attention we deserve.
Listen to uplifting Black music, take walks, watch a funny movie, cook yourself a nice meal, call a friend to chat, or take up a new healthy hobby like painting, gardening, reading, sewing, or start a side hustle.
Reclaim your precious time White folks have stolen and work on discovering your true potential. Some of us are doing our second acts because we’re in mid-life right now. Make those second acts count. If this is the life we gotta live, we must find ways to cope. Until we can get out of this domestic violence relationship with White people, until the criminal justice system becomes less White, and until more racist White people become antiracist, we’re going to have to find better ways to survive and navigate them.
Be a little kinder to your Black brothers and sisters because we’re all stressed. Show them a little extra love. All Black people need some extra grace right now. It won’t make up for the time or loss of potential fooling up with racist White folks, but at least it won’t cause further injuries.
Do no harm.
We have enough people, systems, and institutions gunning for us daily as it is. Let us do no more harm to one another, waste no more of our precious time, or steal any more Black potential.
I love my people, and I just want us to be well.
Marley K. 2021
Follow me~ links are in my bio.
*This thought was inspired by a chat about Black potential with Blacks mixed w/Black on Twitter.