Anyone Else Tired of Talking About Race?
A version of this essay previously appeared in Assemblage.
I’m bombarded. It doesn’t matter if it’s TikTok, Facebook, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or even my neighborhood, there is always something to remind me about the social unrest in this country. As if I needed a reminder. I’ve been Black for 41 years and have been dealing with racism since I was 10. It’s not a new thing, it’s been my life, so please excuse me, but I’d like to tap out. I don’t want to be the spokesperson for the entire Black community. Most of the time, I don’t even want to speak for myself.
At first, I was okay with answering questions. I considered it my duty to my community to represent Black excellence to those who only see Black people through media stereotypes. I want the world to change not just for me but for the benefit of future generations as well. If the fight starts now, so be it. No one gets to choose a convenient place and time for a revolution, but in the middle of a pandemic wouldn’t have been my first choice.
In the 85 days since those eight minutes of the video that sparked a flame that threatens to engulf the world in change, I’ve gone from “fight the power” to enough is enough. Author Sam Keen says burnout is nature’s way of telling you that you’ve been going through the motions, your soul has departed. Well I’m tired, and it’s because it’s all too much. I need a break, and if I can’t get a reprieve from it all, then can I stay out of it?
There’s a constant reminder that I’m different, and I need to defend myself if I’m going to have even the slightest chance of living free of stereotypes and blatant racism.
Dealing with racism every day is exhausting. Even before George Floyd, we have had to face microaggressions daily. Most of the time, I want to get my milk and bread and be on my way. I could care less about the ignorant person who acted like they didn’t see me standing in the checkout line and just walked right in front of me like I didn’t exist.
Trust me when I write this, I know how to pick my battles; I’ve been doing it for 30-plus years. I understand that I shouldn’t have to put up with how Black people are made to feel small, but I have to be honest: Most days, I just want to live in my bubble and go about my day the same as anyone else.
Arguments about race are everywhere now. It’s on my social media feed. It’s on the TV. It’s the topic of discussion in my neighborhood whenever I’m around. There’s a constant reminder that I’m different, and I need to defend myself if I’m going to have even the slightest chance of living free of stereotypes and blatant racism.
Being Black right now is exhausting.
But it seems the more we fight, the harder people hold onto it. I know Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I’m sure some of the Romans working on the Coliseum thought at some point, “I’m never going to see this completed in my lifetime, and I’m tired of lugging these stones. I need a break.” But they were slaves (more than likely) and didn’t have a choice. That’s how I feel right now. I’m Black. I don’t have a choice. I’m in it to win it, but I’m also tired of lugging the stones.
I can’t turn off my Blackness. There isn’t any switch I can flip that will cause me to fade into the background so that I can live my life untouched by the unrest in the world. I’m burnt out on talking about race. It has me emotionally and mentally drained to the point where it’s affecting me physically. I don’t have the energy to keep the conversation going even though I know that it has to continue.
I wish I could stay in my bubble until this is all over, but it will never be over.
It makes me feel like I’m letting my children, my family, my friends, and the Black community down by being tired. I’m sure we’ve all felt this way at some point, but writing it down feels like a betrayal to my community. We’re tired. I’m tired of having to defend myself, and I secretly wish that people would see that there’s more to me than just my Blackness.
I wish we could all let go of those things that are no longer serving us, and racism is one of them.
I’ve started to avoid going out and being around people. I’ve never liked crowds, but this is different because I’m avoiding people I know. I’m tired of talking about race, and I need a break. I want to sit at home and zone out on ’90s sitcoms. I need to recharge.
I wish I could stay in my bubble until this is all over, but it will never be over. Even when the movement fades out and the pandemic is over and life returns to “normal,” there will still be racism. I may not experience violence daily, but there will always be people in the world who have to believe they are better than another group of people to feel better about themselves. But all I want right now, all I need is just peace and the freedom to live my life without the color of my skin dictating whether I have a right to it.