Being called a N*igg#!
In a strange [and strangely familiar] place
While walking on the street
Or playing on a court
Will never be okay
And is nearly impossible to forget.
While I appreciate the academics of an intervention and a strategy,
Racial trauma IS racial stress–labor, abuse, predation–and changes your life forever.
I was 21 walking on a street in Colorado by myself as a college student in a new place, by myself…on assignment to write stories about science and enjoy the freedoms my school-imbued pedigree released to me.
I was so scared in that moment, in the first week, on the second day that I could do nothing but be afraid of being by myself…on assignment…
Being my self…on assignment.
I did not have the terms or language, nor did I think or imagine ideas that were coded as:
- intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1989)
- microaggression (Lloyd et al., 2021)
- stereotype threat (Steele) or
- imposter syndrome (Davis, 2021).
Just fear and anxiety.
Was it my Blackness, my womanness, the boldness of my youth or some combination of all the things outside of my control, encoded in the social DNA and historical fabric of that moment only days after the uprisings that defined the 90s? Would they come for me? Who were they anyway? I could not see them, I only heard them…I do not know them. They are strangers and this is strange. How did I get here? Why am I here?
It was so terrifyingly ironic…the combined sounds of anthems from NWA and Sir Mix-a-lot swirling in the air accosted by unfamiliar voices with very familiar tones.
So many questions. No answers.
Fast forward thirty years, another girl on assignment, to play a game bearing letters and numbers of a team surrounded by people suffered the same experience…