Strong Black Women and shaming

I shouldn’t be typing right now. But I have a weak will. I have a ridiculous need to be understood. I understand that mostly the only people who “understand” me through my writing are Noah, Sarah, Pam, and a handful of other people who seriously show up in my life and have put in years of time. The writing supports their understanding of me and gives nuance I am literally not capable of providing in other way.

I get that I’m pretty fucking confusing to everyone else. That’s ok.

Why did I check the referrer to Reddit? Because the last time I got posted there it was in a positive way. I wanted to see if I should ban it or leave it. That was probably foolishly optimistic. The one positive posting to Reddit was a fluke. That’s not what Reddit is about. Ha.

Ok, onto this “She thinks she is a Strong Black Woman even though she is a white stay at home mom in the suburbs” thing.

This is something I have super complex feelings about. I worry like fuck that actual black women will think I perceive myself this way. Holy crap for Crisco I don’t and I don’t want to be one more white bitch appropriating in this fashion.

I don’t care very much if random white people want to perceive me that way, that’s about them being twats. I worry about actual marginalized people perceiving me as appropriating their struggle. Because crap I’m trying to not do that.

I talk a lot about racial issues. Throughout my life I have found most of the wisdom I needed for enduring the traumas I have experienced have come from black women. Not black men, which is something I feel feelings about… black women. I feel like a racist piece of shit for not wanting to hear how black men endure. I mean, it’s not that I don’t want to hear it. I read books from their point of view. I actively seek out black male writers for their opinions on current events.

But I don’t usually feel like what they have to say about managing existing in their bodies is relevant to what it takes for me to live in my body.

It’s different with black women.

Now, do I think that I understand what it is like to be a black woman? No. No. No. No. No. No. I don’t. I do not in any way shape or form understand what it feels like to live under institutionalized racism. That is a form of understanding that is forever denied to me. Not because I’m stupid, but because it is just not for me. It hasn’t happened to me so I *can’t* understand.

Just like other people who have not been raped for decades starting in infancy will never understand what that feels like. It’s an experience you have to have in order to understand. I feel that many things in life work this way. I will never understand what it feels like to grow up with loving parents. That is a door that is closed to me. There are doors of understanding that are closed to everyone. Life works that way.

I don’t think I am a Strong Black Woman. I think that is a really damaging stereotype, as an aside. I think that black women are sometimes strong and sometimes weak and in their human variance they have many lessons to teach people who want to learn. Does that mean that any particular black woman owes me an education?

Uhm. No. That’s creepy and gross. I have no right to demand that anyone educate me. Boundaries, people.

But what I can do is seek out black women who have deliberately and consciously put themselves into the position of Teacher and I can pay them gobs of money for sharing what they know.

I perceive there to be a lot of shaming in this country for anyone who says that black women have something to teach. I think that is shitty. I think that is partially about the fact that from an intersectional point of view, many black women have to be able to cope with many kinds of bad all at once.

If I say I’m happy about the trolls not descending on me en masse, a troll says, “I’ll fix you! I’ll put you on Reddit!”

If I say that I learn a lot from black women and I am deeply grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to learn from black women…

Obviously that’s the same thing as pulling a Rachel Dolezal. If I admire black women and I think they have something to teach me… I’m appropriating. I’m saying I’m the same thing as them.

Nope, check your reading comprehension.

I think I have benefited from white privilege in ways many and varied from small to huge. From not being followed in grocery stores when I was a kid while I robbed them blind to being expected to go to college. To being able to pass as “just another person at a VC event in silicon valley” despite having…. uhm a troubled background. (VC means Venture Capital. It means some of the richest people in our society.)

I don’t think I understand what it means to be black. I think many people who are black have suffered in ways I can’t even wrap my head around.

I try to not be a using piece of shit. I try to do anything I can to make it so particular black women have one or two less pieces of shit to carry on one given day. But I’m very limited in what I can do like that. When folks post, “I’m about to lose my home” or “I can’t feed my kids” I can help in a teeny tiny way correct what society is completely failing to do. But I can’t carry everyone. I can’t fix every problem. I can’t pretend I am “part of the struggle”.

I’m kinda doing my own struggle here. There are ways that my struggle overlap with the struggles of black people. In those ways I try very hard to be an ally.

But I don’t get cookies for that. I’m not doing it for cookies. If no one says “Good job” I show up and do it anyway.

Because I’m trying to be someone I can love and respect. It isn’t about you. I’m trying to do what I think is right as a person with growing privilege so that I can look myself in the mirror without feeling contempt.

Yes, it is kind of gross that I need to write in front of an audience for validation. I know. But I’m not really doing it for your validation. Especially if you are a stranger.

I want my kids to validate me solely by continuing a relationship with me–I don’t get to ask for more. I want Noah and Pam and Sarah and Jenny and a few other people who might be less keen to be specifically named to validate me in actual words and they do. But I absolutely cap it at a dozen people.

These people are my judge and jury. These are the people I’m courting in this lifetime. This is my inner circle. These are the people I substitute for my sense of self. They are the people I’m consciously trying to turn into my inside voice. These are the people who need to think I’m not a piece of shit.

If Reddit likes me… I’m probably doing something wrong.

If random people want to get together on a troll site to feel better about themselves by putting me down…

I’m sorry your life is that bad.

By the way, I do see psychiatrists. And psychotherapists. And counselors. And acupuncturists. And chiropractors. And GPs. And I’ve been through a huge variety of other specialists. I jump around between doctors for lots of reasons related to money, health insurance, and personality conflicts. But I’ve seen probably close to a hundred doctors in my life (adding in surgeons and ER Drs). Between therapists and psychiatrists I’ve seen more than two dozen.

But go ahead and sit at home and decide that I’m just working with a dealer and I’m a loser who isn’t actually trying.

I understand that it makes you feel better to believe that people who are like me are like this because they aren’t trying. I understand that it makes you feel better to believe that if you had x happen to you then you would do the right thing and you would be over it by now.

I get that. I really do.

Part of the reason I write about racial stuff the way I do is because I am hyperaware that I have gotten more support and aid than is standard in this country. And I’m still this fucked up. Even though the system was designed for people like me I’m still falling through the cracks. It is much worse for people who aren’t white.

I’m not going to stop talking about that even though assholes on the internet want to shame me for caring about this racial disparity. I want it to change. That means I’m going to talk about it.

I really hope I can do so without acting like this issue is about me. It isn’t. It is standing near my issues. Fixing it would also fix many of my issues and that’s convenient. But they are separate.

I am not a strong black woman. I am a white woman. It is all I can ever be. Whether I am strong or not depends on the day.

But I get to be weak or strong from day to day. That is one of the gifts given to white womanhood. Black women are by and large completely and totally prevented from being as open about being crazy as I am, even when it is true. They get punished in ways I have escaped.

Please, don’t think I speak for the black experience. I don’t. I speak about what I’ve seen, which is 100% through the lens of a white woman.

I know that nuance is hard.

In the past few months I’ve read comments on multiple websites from people who say they have been following me for years because I’m such a trainwreck and they hate me.

You know… you really need to work on your life. That’s not healthy. I’m pretty sure I have never in my life fixated on someone in that way and I’m one of the most broken people I know. This does not say good things about you, my friend.

If you hate me and think I’m lying, how about replacing my influence with someone you like and respect? Wouldn’t that improve your day? I mean… how is deliberately filling yourself with contempt for a stranger improving your life? I don’t understand. That must mean I somehow remind you of someone in your life. Someone who has hurt you. Someone you really want to think about/not think about so reminders just… feel addictive.

You really should rethink what you are doing. Find things that make you want to be a better person rather than feeling contempt for people you feel better than. That’s not a way to have a happy nor a healthy life.

I understand. Many years ago I followed people on livejournal because they were connected to my community and I felt I had to be along for the ride. I’ve since decided I can opt in to as much of other peoples lives as I choose to.

I find it fascinating how many people have said in the past few months, “If you don’t password protect your writing you deserve what you get.” It strikes me that I’ve been told “If you don’t ____ you deserve ______” for my whole life.

The metrics move around a little, but the story is the same. It is always my fault that other people do things. If I haven’t done _____ then I deserve what other people feel like doing to me. It’s pretty interesting.

I no longer believe that story and I feel grateful down to the soles of my feet.

There is nothing I can do or not do to deserve people deciding to send a crew of assholes after me. Yes, I could do things to hide in my house and not communicate with the world. It’s true. Women have been trying to make themselves smaller so they would receive less abuse… since the beginning of time.

It doesn’t work out though. The smaller you cringe the more they kick you.

Until they kill you.

Do I feel victimized by people being assholes to me on the internet? No. Does it make me throw up sometimes? Yes. Does that make me pathetic? Probably.

I know the difference between victimization and people being assholes. If you don’t, that’s on you. People being assholes is allowed to bother me. I mean, I’m happier if I can ignore it…. but it’s ok that it bothers me.

It’s not ok if it derails my life. But it isn’t. So yeah. I am allowed to have feelings.

I don’t think the kid who kicked me in the throat victimized me. I think he was a kid and he did something stupid. I don’t think his mom victimized me. I think she has behaviors I don’t want to be around and I’m personally angry with her. I don’t think my children victimize me by being kids or by hurting me.

I don’t think that when I agreed to one rape scene with my husband that I was victimized. (No, asshat Redditors it isn’t a frequent occurrence. We had something a year or two that was really hard for me in terms of feeling like a violation of consent but it wasn’t. It was a cue that I was ready to learn new behaviors that had not been previously part of my life.)

I was victimized when a friend pinned me to a rock and sodomized me when I was a child.

I know the difference between victimization and not. If you don’t… that’s not my problem. If you think I don’t then you are ignorant and that is really not my problem.

Also: I love how people on the internet feel qualified to say things like “She needs lithium”. And you complain about how I self diagnose and medicate with pot?!

Only I use pot under the supervision of a variety of professionals. Every doctor I talk to knows about my usage and we debate the merits and problems.

My shrink tells me to take this feeling of defensiveness and feel down to the base of the tendrils and somewhere in the roots in the ground I will find my self-love. She says my ability to go through what I am doing to improve and why is part of what I need to base my self-love on.

I do not brag about beating my children. I have never beaten my children. I have slapped one child in the face once and it was a mild slap. It was not a beating.

It was a fuck up. It is not justifiable. I need to never ever do it again.

You know what? I’ve never lost it and hit their feet for kicking my chair while driving again after losing control once. Even though I just had six months of my kids kicking my seat all day long.

I document so that I can get one fuck up. After that it isn’t a fuck up. It is a pattern and I need to be removed for the safety of other people.

That is not bragging.

Once again, I understand that nuance is not part of the life of the average Redditor. (This is why I say I’m an asshole. Was this dig *really* necessary? – edit 2/2)

I don’t care if you come here to read. I care if you leave a referrer link so that I see you being an asswipe. Which is why you did it. You wanted to say, “See! I can be disrespectful to you!”

Uhm, congratulations? You have many peers in this life. I hope you are proud.

I really don’t understand people. What do you get out of saying, “Here is this crazy person. Let’s laugh at them. huh huh huh huh.”

Seriously. What in the hell can you get out of that?

For the 18 months my brother lived at home after the car accident there were always kids waiting near our yard. They were waiting around to shout insults at my brother. “Hey retard.” He wasn’t retarded mentally. He was physically disabled from having his head go through a car windshield at full speed on a major highway.

But kids are uhm charming.

Reddit reminds me of those neighbors. It is not a positive association.

These are the people who are going to line up to throw insults and nastiness when I eventually get to the point of seriously speaking publicly about incest. These are the people who are going to work like maniacs to try to silence me.

Really this is good practice. The hatred and devotion I’m inspiring now is… kinda nothing compared to what I’ll get once I’m seriously into the incest research. Brace yourself, EppieKrissy.

On a positive note: I loved the chiropractor I talked to today. He had a lot to say about different treatments and approaches based on my incredibly complex history. He was optimistic but he did not make promises. That is such a perfect balance.

He said he really doesn’t know a trauma informed GP to recommend. I’m going up to meet a new psychiatrist soon. I’m working with someone who knows my primary therapist. Which means Berkeley. Sigh. I am not looking forward to the drive. But I need the specialties I need and they are hard to find.

I should try to schedule with preferred northern acupuncturists while I’m up there. If I ask my friend to babysit and she says yes. Ok, more to do.

Made more progress with local developmental psychs for parenting stuff. It’s still phone tag though. I made more calls.

After this burst of defensiveness I feel strangely better.

One of the things that is exciting about this chiro today is he is normally a sports medicine specialist. So he’s a little freaked out about me. Ha. His eyes went big more than once in alarm when I brought stuff up. So… it’s going to be mixed. But! He is super interested in helping me figure out how exercise needs to be reintegrated. He is well informed about how exercise and injury are really tricky because it is a fine line between helping yourself heal and hurting yourself again.

I feel like I could tremendously benefit from someone who is experienced at dealing with that line. He’s really enthusiastic about me getting back to running. He also said emphatically not yet. That… feels like the kind of support I want and need right now. He wants to help me get where I want to get and he has specific skills to help me.

A lot of the problem with personality conflicts and Drs is, a patient has to be helped to get where they want to go. Not where the Dr wants someone to go. So you need to find a Dr who likes to help people get where you want to get. Most people aren’t that honest about that process so it’s tricky to find a good match.

I’m weird. I know that. I’m ok with it. The places I want to go… aren’t places most people even think about let alone want to go there.

I have to believe it takes all kinds. Or I need to die for the good of the herd. So. Hey troll-tastic followers. I know I lose my temper sometimes and I say I want you to feel a lot of pain. In that moment I sorta feel that way about an abstract you.

I can pretty much promise you that if I actually met you I would step in front of danger so that it doesn’t hit you. Because I think you need to be here and I’m pretty sure I’m expendable.

I know I need to be less of an asshole here when I’m in a bad mood. Because I sure give the impression of wanting you to suffer.

You know what? The world already suffers enough. I’m ok with less of it. Even if it means that you don’t suffer for being an asshole. I’m an asshole. I’d prefer to suffer less. I guess that means I need to be ok with the same for you.

I forgive you.

Maybe if I work on that, I can make it easier to forgive me.

Somehow it occurs to me that even though it isn’t part of self-love for other people to forgive outsiders, maybe it is for me.

I don’t know. I’m sure that is backwards and broken. But I carved the word forgiveness on my body. It is, specifically, what I am searching for in this lifetime.

I’ve never been sure for whom.

If I were the sort of person to hold on to notebooks from my own childhood you would see that my main doodle for years was to write the word forgive over and over and over in cursive. It’s prettiest that way.

I am working on forgiving my mother. I am working on forgiving a lot of people.

It’s funny. When I was 18/19 if someone said or implied that I should forgive my mother I responded like an enraged mountain lion.

If I had tried at that point in my life I would have opened the door to more problems. I had to get that angry. I had to break those bonds.

But I did. And now I need something different.

Life is change, Highness. Anyone who tells you different is selling something. (Yes, I know that I changed the quote. That was on purpose. -edit 2/2)

Plagiarize, plagiarize, that’s why God gave you eyes.

How do I learn to love myself? For me it involves learning the difference between being victimized and people being an asshole. It means learning what kinds of feelings are appropriate in which circumstances. It means forgiving people who are mean to me because of what they were taught.

I, too, have been a monster because I was told that was who I was supposed to be. I am not in a position to judge. Not ever.

Man, this has been one of the most interrupted pieces of writing I’ve done in a long time. Why in the fuck am I persevering in 5 minute chunks?!

I’m talking to myself. Shuddup.

Ok, that means Friday is the day of the week I’m allowed to blog. It’s decided.

Shiiiiiiit. Who wants to make a bet on which day of the week I’ll crack before next Friday? I’m taking odds…

I have massage work scheduled! I’m getting a hair cut with Youngest Child. I get to drive north to visit some of my dearest friends. I will visit the home remodeling recycling place in Berkeley on the way. (Tile!) I see chiropractors bunches.

It occurs to me that I’m at a good stage of life for developing boundaries around sense of self that I’ve never been ready for in the past. That’s awesome.

Ok. That’s gotta be enough for today. Let it go, Krissy. Let it go.

12 thoughts on “Strong Black Women and shaming

  1. Joe Lowery

    I’m not as mature as you. I easily fall into being a white knight or a fanboy. Trying not to do that here. Still. I’d like you to know I admire your courage and maturity and insight. I think this blog is a real gift to people like me. And there are lots like me.

    I suspect there are yet more like the trolls, though. I don’t envy you that. You handled it well, I’d say–at least from what I’ve seen with my own eyes. I’m not on Reddit. But your attitude about it seems healthy.

    I say all this realizing you don’t need the praise of a stranger. I just wanted to say something.

    1. Krissy Gibbs Post author

      That’s kind of you, Joe. I have days when I can handle things and days when I can’t. I’m trying to increase the number of days when I’m doing well till I barely notice the bad days. I’m not there yet.

      Oh there will be a lot more trolls. They multiply…

  2. RT

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now, and I’ve heard you talk about some of the same stuff irl. A few times I’ve thought as an outsider that your memories might be slightly skewed because you were so young when they happened, or I’ve been confused by your writing two or more different experiences/feelings on the same subject within a short period of time. That’s something that happens with perspective for anyone, I think. But I’ve never thought you were LYING about any of it. Jesus. Some people are real jerks.

    1. Krissy Gibbs Post author

      *nod* I definitely know that I have memories of memories of some of these things and I’m pretty sure I’ve changed details. I try to be honest about the fact that I know some memory drift has happened and will only get more extreme as I age.

      Well, people have been telling me to my face that I’m lying about what happened to me since I was a child. I’m not surprised in the slightest.

  3. blacksheep

    “In the past few months I’ve read comments on multiple websites from people who say they have been following me for years because I’m such a trainwreck and they hate me.”
    Uhm, anyone who persists in following someone who they HATE and enrages them, has some pathological issues. I’ve specifically UNFOLLOWED people who I have that response to. There have been a number of people who BECAUSE they were a train wreck, I specifically chose not to watch. Yikes.

    And because the geek in me objects: “Life is pain, princess…” (or did you do that on purpose?)

    1. Krissy Gibbs Post author

      I’m funny! When I misquote, it’s cause I’m funny! 😉

      I feel a little weird because I find myself feeling really bad for someone who would feel the need to do that. What is so wrong in your life that you NEED to hate me so much?

      That’s gotta be rough.

  4. Michelle

    Wooooow.

    I made the mistake of looking up the comments on Reddit.
    What a bunch of clucking hens with absolutely zero reading comprehension.
    I can’t tell if the OP there just has a pityingly small worldview or if you remind her of someone else to the extent she can’t see you at all. How sad.

    I will say I have been honored to see how much you have grown and changed over the years, and I still look up to you.

    1. Krissy Gibbs Post author

      I look up to you. I think you have had an incredibly rough road and I am so impressed that you get up and keep going each day. You really are inspiring.

      I’m glad you are my friend.

  5. blacksheep

    I’ve also been a Redditor for several years and I looked up the thread. It’s painfully obvious the OP and the only other person agreeing with her made their accounts with the sole purpose of posting that link and trying to stir up shit. That thread is the only thing they’ve ever posted or commented on, and their accounts were made in the last couple of days. There has actually been very little activity on the thread and the majority of it is basically saying “no, this isn’t ‘entertaining’.” Someone also just posted that the fact that it is painfully obvious how much it stresses you to have unexpected traffic makes it equally painfully obvious that the OP was TRYING to upset you.

    So, as far as Reddit traffic, I conclude that the OP is an asshat, and ABSOLUTELY a cyber-bully, and is not getting the response she hoped for. Instead, she looks like an asshat, and the thread will fade away. I also think you are more likely to garner sympathetic readers from than not. Anyone with any reading comprehension and soul can immediately identify the gross mischaracterizations made in the Reddit post vs the reality of what you post and why.

    I hope you trust my sense of tone and trust that you are not actually being mocked by anyone other than the two assholes who were trying to upset you. Fuck them. I DO feel sorry for them, because they are clearly sad, tiny people.

    1. Krissy Gibbs Post author

      I am a paranoid dipwad and I looked again this morning. I think you are totally right about how this has gone on Reddit. I think my hangover paranoia is more from when I hit the troll website a few months ago. Given the comments put on Reddit the folks who went there *have* to be from the Troll site because that is where I was dumb enough to defend myself after they came down like a ton of bricks being asswipes.

      I’m actually… shocked by how nice Reddit was. Most of the people there were… really kind. Yay!

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