Ghost Busters

First, I must say that I am so excited about being in a class that I believe will help me explore my identity. I am a black American women, and have not had the place to look into these facets of myself. I am black and I am women. I cannot separate these entities from my being any more than water can stop being wet. I have only had the experience of looking at blackness and gender in two different fields that have lacked intersectionality. However, I look forward to the many dialogues that will bring some harmony to my experience as a whole.

I was thoroughly touched by the definitions of womanist. I have seen the word but never really understood fully what it meant. I thought initially that it was another word for feminist. But I like the strength in the word. I like how it feels on my tongue and how it sit inside of me. Many of days my mother has told me that “I have been actin grown.” And I have always thought this was funny because even now I question my womanhood due to other people’s expectations. But as a womanist I am acting grown. I am a full grown black woman whose existence and ideas should be taken seriously. Also the idea that a womanist loves other women as well as men, not separatist or man hater. It allows one to appreciate the beauty and diversity of woman. And lastly, the quote, “womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender” just makes this idea even more clear for me. It is a shade of feminism that is more inclusive of all women.

I also the article Facing Down the Spooks by Angela Mae Kupenda resonated with me so much. I was full of “yaaaas” and “amens”. It felt good to read someone else’s experiences and have it articulate things that I have felt and did not seem to have the words for. Like a preacher whose sermon is saying everything your soul has been carrying. The ghosts that she has named are ones that are all too familiar. The “be my mammy” ghost and the “be my clown” ghost that are facades that I feel black women have been expected to put on to make those around them feel at ease in our presence. Because the black women is mystery, she is feared and tried to be put in a box of limitations to restrict her movements. So she must resume the role that was passed by previous generations. Kupenda mentions that her students thought she looked scary when she spoke about serious topics and felt at ease when she smiled and joked. When white male professors have serious demeanors, (more often than not) no one is telling him to perk up. They are taken seriously. He is not feared, he is seen as professional and competent. But Kupenda was expected to put on a smile (regardless of her own personal feelings) as a show to comfort those in her presence.
I hate when people tell me I should smile. When I am home in Brooklyn and some random man tells me to smile or when people say that when I am walking around campus I look mad. I have been told I suffer from Resting Bitch Face Syndrome. I would take these comments and think that I should make the effort to look more pleasant as I walked from place to place, and immediately found that it took too much work and stopped. No one tells men to smile. No is scared of the white girls on campus who aren’t walking around with rainbows and unicorns coming out of their asses. I am minding my business and in my own thoughts. I do not have time to consider whether my presence puts someone else at ease. I am not a clown. I am not presenting a mask or imitation of myself for anyone else’s comfort. If someone else has a problem with it, it is just that. Their problem. Not mine.

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One thought on “Ghost Busters

  1. Amen, sister! I never encountered the term “bitch face” until this summer when a white woman colleague in the Literature and Creative Writing Department mentioned during a workshop )actually the one on empathy where I learned about the Story Exchange) that several students have remarked on her course evaluations that “her bitch face frightens them and she should smile more”! So this is definitely a gender-specific charge. But when it is racialized, it takes on deeper significance as you point out. Great response; so glad you added the class!

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