Sorry “Rubia”, I Am Not Your Mammie

***This is by NO MEANS a reflection of a personal experience, just simply a really, really bad dream and an over exaggeration of the truth.***


Dear “’Super Cultured’, Global Citizen, Help the Needy, Privileged” White Woman,

Upon arriving to country X (insert any country in the world here) with X study abroad group, fellowship, or travel company, one’s typical interaction goes something like this:

Day 1: Everyone seems nice, cordial, and excited about embarking upon a new country/city together. So, translation, ‘everyone is a bit fake’. However, this is permissible in a space that is occupied by 80% white upper class women. Sometimes, the 15% of the super liberal white males often help ease the fake energy, yet can create a more stifling room than when the 5 percenters like me arrive.

Day 2: The 5 percenters quickly become the center of attention, nearly eroticized over their beautiful dark skin, textured dark hair, and perfect bumps and rumps in all the right places. An unnatural desire to know when, where, and how we do everything from pooping to worshiping on Sunday mornings, since we are so seldom in these spaces and places.

Day 3: The unnatural attention becomes nearly an obsession. A crave for acceptance from the 5 percenters and the start of a lasting friendship in one party’s eyes to a little less than an acquaintance in the others.

Day 4: By this time, one knows that she is being absolutely, annoying to the 5 percenters but has no absolute idea how to stop. She apologizes after every question, statement, and explanation and often asks for forgiveness before she even opens her mouth. Confusing, I know.

Day 5: Nothing is worse than the 5th day, because this is when one notices that all of her energy has been focused on building her new relationship with her “brown friend”. Unfortunately, that has left her in complete disarray attempting to navigate throughout her new city. The 5 percenter is then, not asked directly to offer her assistance and common sense (or often noted as street smarts), but she feels obligated as the “damsel in distress” begins to crumble before her eyes.

Day 6: The acknowledgement of the 5 percenter saving her life becomes the opening to every conversation, closing to every departure, and is unnecessarily referenced in every interaction. However, one should recognize that the word acknowledgement seldom includes any honest gratitude, but rather is an opportunity for more attention to be drawn to the new “super authentic” relationship built between the damsel and her mammie.

Day 7: “The Angry Black Woman” is forced to be released and someone’s feelings always end up getting hurt, yet I promise you it will never be the 5 percenter who is hurting. Our pain and tears aren’t allowed. We simply wash our hands and move on to the “rubia” in the next country, somehow still hearing the confusion in the crying from afar. Today, I realized this was not a dream, but the mere reality of ignorant privilege meeting pain, subjugation, and resilience all at once.

Yours truly,

Tired Black Woman Beyond Her Borders

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