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I recall one time, at 12 years old, sitting in a cabin full of girls I was in Girl Scouts with when they told a black joke.It was uncomfortable, but I thought I was living in post-racial America, so I kept my objections to myself.I needed to get used to a new way of responding to racist words, a new way of standing up for myself; making myself more visible.
I knew the first few times I responded to a white person's backhanded compliment with another backhanded compliment would probably feel a bit uncomfortable, so I gave myself two weeks.And I walked away, because I don’t have the space in my life to be told for the 100 time that I am not valid.Both of these days were uneventful, and purposefully so.”Instead of being quiet (which is what I normally do), I spoke up.
I let him know that he had no right to tell me that my experiences weren’t valid simply because he couldn’t understand them.
I didn’t know it at the time — I didn’t realize that, from the beginning, I’d been trying to make the white people around me body and the backhanded compliments, I put the needs, comfort, and safety of white people above my own.