Readings: 

*Dennis Liu, Raising Dion

*Melissa Harris-Perry, Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America 

*Patricia Hill Collins, “The sexual politics of black womanhood”

*Cornel West, “Black sexuality: The taboo subject”

Class Discussion: 

  • Activity about important and successful black figures in history
  • Raising Dion, a strong black woman raising a superhuman child
  • Black vs. White bodies
  • Lack of Black authorship in SMC Seminar readings
  • Respectability politics
  • DC Sniper perception
  • Racial battle fatigue
  • Selection attention

Desiree Anderson, the director of the SMC Intercultural Center, was our facilitator today and she was absolutely amazing. We began class by talking about Raising Dion which unfortunately was never continued, but the open dialogue about the misrepresentation of black women in comics was an interesting perspective I had never thought of. Other than this conversation, we didn’t discuss the other readings and we dove into some other topics that Desiree found important to our education.

We spent a while talking about some different black experiences that people of color on campus go through, and I found myself very much challenged. It was difficult to sit and listen to some of the very saddening things that my peers go through simply because of their skin color and the ignorance of white people around them. One of the major topics was respectability politics, which are basically various actions taken by marginalized people in order to “fit in” and not challenge what is deemed normal for most white people. An example that Desiree gave was her work attire and the way that it has changed as she slowly got more comfortable with her race. She explained that when she first began working in a professional environment, she made extra efforts to keep her hair neat, wear extremely professional clothing, and speak in a way that would not make the people around her uncomfortable. Now that she is more comfortable at work, she wears her hair naturally and wears tights. This is an example of respectability politics and how certain POC’s must initially change the way they live in order to “please” the people around them.

Another topic that was brought up was racial battle fatigue, which is a result of the repeated experiences that POC’s go through with micro aggressions. Many of my peers explained how this fatigue is damaging to the black psyche and how they are expected to constantly condition themselves to explain their own existence to those around them, while the opposite would never be reasonable.

I was simultaneously surprised and saddened by the experiences that were shared with the class. While much of my life I had never really understood why exactly “racial battle fatigue” was a real thing, or whether or not respectability politics played a monumental role in the lives of POC’s, I felt as though I finally understood what was going on. I feel bad for my peers who have gone through this but I also feel much more clarity regarding the racial experiences of those around me.

Learning Objective #4 – Articulate and make efforts to understand varied black experiences, activities, and responses.

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