by Jacqueline Hawkins
I have written about the intersection of race and pro-life activism (here and here). Because I am a “black sheep” of the black community, I am often confronted with responses that my counterparts don’t experience.
Sometimes black students treat me differently. Some might feel more comfortable talking to me — or unleashing their wrath, as the case may be. Perhaps some take liberties with me they can’t take with others. The treatment at UNC Greensboro was especially intense.
Token black girl. Some black girls accused me of being the token black person on the team. They argued that this somehow made my presence invalid. They even said I should be offended that my white counterparts would have me participate in GAP. (Is there anything black people shouldn’t be offended by?) I said I have two degrees in the predominantly white field of agriculture. I asked if it would have been better to drop out of college because my field of study didn’t have enough black folks. They didn’t have much of an answer.
BET PSA. “I don’t feel like my voice is being heard!” a black female student shouted at the top of her lungs. I felt like I was listening to a BET public service announcement during an election year. Of course, this could have been said by anyone, black or white — I heard the same thing on MTV. Speaking of catchy PSAs of the millenial generation, another black girl said, “You don’t have a right to make us feel uncomfortable!” I need a safe space; are there any no-stupid zones?
Guilt Backfired. Some black students told me, “You should be standing up for the choices of black women!” I replied, “I rather stand up for the black children marked for slaughter.” They didn’t have much of a response to that one either.
Return to the school yard. In the late afternoon, right before we broke down, some black students came to me and insisted that this method doesn’t work. They told me that no one cares. I made a sweeping gesture to the huge crowd of students, most of whom had been there since noon. I said all this attention only brings more and more attention. People do indeed care. They persisted. I told them about Martin Luther King and how our process was modeled off of his actions. Boy, they didn’t like that; they were attacked by loud, forceful belly laughs. Reminded me of middle school. “Whatever, Martin Luther,” they jibed, eyes rolling like marbles. They left as they continued to laugh and mock me.
Making demands. As we were breaking down, the belly-laughter students came back and demanded I talk to them. When I told them I had to help break down they scoffed and rolled their eyes, insisting I could talk to them but just didn’t want to. Again, I was reminded of middle school, when the black kids would make demands of me and get upset when I didn’t give in. I politely assured them that we would talk again when CBR came back to UNCG. To that they said: “We don’t want you back!” In turn I replied, “Don’t worry, we’ll be back.” I winked at them to seal the deal.
Just a reminder, I can only keep my promise with your help. Please do help me go back.
Jacqueline Hawkins is a CBR Project Director and a regular FAB contributor.