Stockholm Syndrome

The 20s are all about tough realities. Everything is not what it seems and what it seems may not be what it is in the first place (see what I did there, or maybe not). The world is complicated. Life is complicated. People .... are complicated. What's not complicated are feelings, emotions, and beliefs. What makes sense are intentions, motivations, and reasoning. What is simple are identities, humanities, and truths. Prepare yourself for a tricky one - this is Stockholm syndrome.

*This post is my official break up letter with dominant society in two-fold. 1) for it's dehumanization of my subordinated identities (race & ethnicity) and 2) for it's continued disregard for diversity in humanity. Over the past 24 hours I changed my coveted relationship status to: in a relationship; it's complicated; and finally back to single. Why? Symbolism for this long overdue process. Just over a hundred people liked the relationship, no one noticed the complication phase, and many were angry/confused when it was over.

Stockholm Syndrome or capture-bonding as it's commonly known (according to Wikipedia) is "a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with their captors. Victims mistake a lack of abuse from their captors as an act of kindness." In recent days I've had time to properly and thoroughly reflect not only on the semester but my entire college experience and ultimately the majority of my cognitive life. What I realized was for the entirety of my life was that I have spent it in this captive state of oppression with the subversion of my outsider identity. What I mean by that is I always thought that I was free to be me, but that has never been true because I myself never let it be so. Why, you ask, because I think subconsciously I always believed that I didn't deserve or need it, much less have the capability to handle it. Did I just say what I think I just said. Yes, I damn well did.

I always struggled to figure out how I could embody my identity as a person of color but specifically an African-American/Black person. What kind of black person was I? The stereotypical kind society says I'm supposed to be, the new age rebellious kind afro-sporting and all, or the holier than thou pretentious kind people unceremoniously refer to as uppity or bougie. Ding, ding, ding, I think we found a winner with the latter. That question of what kind is the entire point. I was trying to fit in somewhere where there's actually nothing to be fit in to. Those categories, those kinds, those arbitrary nomenclatures kept me safe, kept me sheltered, but overall kept me tamed. Everyone wants to be an individual right? Wrong. To be an individual is to be alone, to have no one to relate to, or even anyone to compare yourself against.

Being an individual, in my opinion, is both the hardest and scariest thing a person can do, and I argue few actually do it. Individuality is self-perpetuating awareness. Sticking to those "kinds" relegated me, by choice mind you, to fit certain molds, when in fact the truth about me (and all of us for that matter) is that we never really will fit because we were molded painstakingly, individually, and uniquely. I'm choosing to free myself - not denying labels (they have a purpose) but rather embracing them all together to create that one of a kind brand that is me.
Now, let me take it to a whole other level of intense with this next captivity freeing ideology. What would you say if I told you I've spent once again my whole life in a Stockholm Syndrome induced incarceration with racially dominant society, and by that I mean White-America (or America to most people apparently) or white people. Would you say that's gross hyperbole or total farce? Would you retreat and click away without reading on? Would you claim some reverse-racism mumbo jumbo hullabaloo? I've hinted at this before but now more than ever it's become clear to me the disturbing depths of my relationship with whiteness and those who hold it (or are perceived to hold it). To say I was furious at my friends - no scratch that, let me give this some gravity - fraternity brothers (but they'll stand in for now) for their failure to show support in the wake of the racial injustice, dehumanization of people of color, and police brutality demonstrated via the killings of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and countless others (both named and unnamed) would be an understatement. Support for what - support or me. We had this Google hangout and I had to tell them that truth that I did not think they were as inclusive, culturally competent, or supportive as they thought. It ended in painful silence, palpable awkwardness, and misguided bigoted backlash. So we went our separate ways and immediately one brother did the right thing, that is apologized for being blatantly absent in a critical traumatic time. I waited a few days and did my captive duty, even though I was the one impacted and hurt, in reaching out to check to see how they were doing. I was the one who initiated reconciliation and ended up apologizing for being too real, calling people out, and hurting their feelings. Like what? Why did I do that? How did the person who did absolutely nothing wrong, except exist apparently, end up doing the relationship mending?  Why did I beg for forgiveness of the feet of those who would cast me aside? That Stockholm Syndrome reared it's ugly head.

Being a person of color for me is this abusive relationship with whiteness - time after time, day after day, being hurt incessantly by either stigmatized/stereotyped black representations or even more so the absence of them along with personal macro/microaggressions. Too many times have I beaten down, trampled over, and tossed aside by society. Too many times have I been overlooked, relegated to the background, or made invisible. Too many times has my race been the only thing that seemed to matter about me, tokenized, and used for disgusting displays of phony diversity. What hurts the most is when all that crap, nah screw it, that absolute bullshit comes from my friends - my godforsaken friends. You're fake. You lie to me. You lie to yourselves. You're not different than what you say you're not but rather you're worse because you do what the same as those who actually hate these people but hide behind acceptance, understanding, and fool's gold love. At least I know where they stand. You torture, giving false hope and a bad name to the real allies and friends out there.

I made the mistake of trusting you with the truths of my who I am against all odds. Against how society pits us against each other. Against the dichotomy of how we're described - white and black; light and dark; good and bad; safe and dangerous; normal and different. I crossed sides. I played pretend. I gave all that I am - but apparently people who look like me have been doing that for hundreds of years, but they had a name for it back in the day ... and it's a word that we like to forget as if it isn't the foundation upon which this country is built. Say it. Don't say it. You can't treat people like animals begging for scraps of food that was meant to be shared in the first place and then expect/force them to love you. That's what is. But no matter what I do, I can't break up with it. It. Whiteness. It keeps telling me that I shouldn't exist, that I'm ugly, that I don't deserve freedom, happiness, or equality/equity. It puts me down endlessly and yet I'm still in a twisty complicated relationship. No matter where I go, school, home, even my dreams there it is reminding me that I'm not good enough, that this country isn't for me, and that I'm stuck showing empathy and sympathy for those and a society that wasn't made with me in mind, one that refuses to change, to take responsibility for itself, and to be better.

But here I am in my brown-skinned glory saying I'm done. I'm through. I'm over it. I refuse to apologize for something I cannot control. I refuse to say sorry for being who I am. I refuse to make amends for crimes I do not commit. I no longer will say sorry for telling the hard truths to people who need to hear it. I will no longer make excuses for  my friends (they're white) who fail again and again to be actual friends (that is acknowledging and celebrating our identities; ceasing to trivialize or demean my race, ethnicity, and cultures; and understanding larger systems of interaction). I will never again accept friendship from those who cannot or refuse to see the humanity of others, particularly those with minority identities. I will no longer remain silent when talking about race/racism makes people uncomfortable and I will point out, at every appropriate occasion, all the problematic instances I can. I will check the shit out of people. I will dismantle systems of oppression, destroy barriers and stereotypes, and slay ignorance and apathy like none other. I will reclaim all the culturally appropriated foolishness from the thieving ignoramuses who take it as their own and patent it all brand new.

I am declaring my independence; I am emancipating my black ass; I am waving my clenched fist away from whiteness. It is not mine. I do not want it. I cannot have it. It is not for me. I am proud of who I am, as you should be (wait but when you do that does that look like white supremacy - see how annoying it is for people to problematize your entire existence). I'm black, I get it - but I'm human, isn't that enough? I am enough. I am more than enough. I'm am beyond enough. Take me as I am. I am worth it. I demand respect, recognition, and my human rights. I've earned it even though it should be given freely. If, not even when, you're ready to live up to that word "friend" I'll be here waiting with open arms. I know people who have done it and do it daily. It's possible, and unbelievably easy if you want to work for it. I've been through enough Stockholm Syndrome.

And to you, dominant society, because all of my other identities that make up the heavily complex and totally unique person that is me are undeservedly privileged, I'm not about you either. Male, masculine, cisgender, heterosexual (but questioning), average body size, college educated, upperclass (by association), Protestant (by way of Pentecostalism), American (complicated by first-generation Ghanaian immigrant parents), temporarily able-bodied, English speaking, traditionally health and the list goes on and on. I'm not just giving up the power I didn't ask for but have unfairly been granted with (mind you it looks and acts differently because of that big race word) but I'm also committing to self-sabotaging. Yeah, I'm breaking everyone I can out of here. I'm not accepting people for who they are (they don't need my freaking approval to be who they are), I'm going to be me and invite them (not that need me) to do the same. I'm going to start the biggest, freakiest, weirdest, and ironically most normal (because everyone is in their own right) party of all time - oh yeah, it's call life - the way it's supposed to be. No matter who you are, what you've experienced, or how you go through the world you have to know you're good, no great, no absolutely perfect. You shouldn't change a thing. You're exactly the way you should be. You don't need me to tell you that, but know that. I'm going to do all in my power to help us all escape our societal prisons. Society should be the one showing empathy and sympathy on top of letting you go - go be you not the Stockholm Syndrome way around.

I'm breaking up with you too society. Because even though you've showered me with these things I didn't ask for, you've given me a burden that I shouldn't have to bear - that is the oppression of all those who don't share my power-holding dominant identities. You've tricked me long enough into believing I am good, better, or the best - there's no such thing, everyone is and deserves to be the best in themselves. Drop the -isms, I'm not about it. Forget the systems and institutions, they're broken AF. Miss me with the propaganda, everyone deserves to feel good and secure in who they are, not just me. Don't call me, text me, double my posts instagram, or revine my vines. Lose my number. We're never getting back together, like ever. Your power disparity version of Stockholm Syndrome punishing those who stand up for the truth, advocate, and disband is no more. It's the right thing to do. It's how we should live. It's not betrayal but rather liberation to a better connection, one that transcends our predetermined classes in all aspects of life. Social justice is not a buzzword or a fad, but life freer, more beautiful, and full of deeper love for humanity, cause we all have it. It's inherent - don't ever forget that.

My blog post question for the day is ... how did this post make you feel and what can you commit to? You know swashbuckling ridiculousness left and right daily - can I get an amen.


Popular posts from this blog

Man Down


Trust Issues