What goes through your head when you’re at the gym? Although Cardi B’s debut album, Invasion of Privacy, does a superb job at occupying my ears during a workout, it doesn’t exactly touch the depths of my soul. So, my mind tends to wander.
Most of the time I’m adding to my to-do list, sometimes I’m imagining scenarios that would probably never happen in my wildest dreams (What if Cardi B is reading this right now?), but occasionally, something sets me a bit off balance.
It happened today when I was doing weighted glute bridges next to the boxes of differing heights designed for box jumps. During the middle of my set, three white people walked up to the boxes and started performing their workouts. If I shifted even one inch to the left, I would have clanked Becky clean in the shin with an 80-pound barbell. And it would’ve been my fault. Because black woman at UF. Or anywhere, really.
So, here began the wandering:
If I were white, would they have waited until I was done with my set?
Do they expect me to just move because they’re here now?
Could they have just moved over a bit?
Why is it that white women find it impossible to say excuse me?
What if they made a version of bumper cars, but with people instead? Oh wait, white women already do that.
Before I let myself fall into a mental rabbit hole, I finished my last set and left. No big deal, right?
If this were the only time something of this nature had ever happened it might have been no big deal. But these types of questions pick at the attention of black people every day. They have an incredibly negative effect on the way they’re able to perform at school and work. How is a student supposed to compete on a level playing field when there are never ending streams of internal questions stealing their precious attention?
Is my guidance counselor telling me only to apply to community college because she thinks it’s best for me or because no black kids from this school go to college?
Did she only sit far away from me on the bus because she’s upset or because she doesn’t want to be friends with the only black girl in class?
Does the saleswoman keep asking me for help because she’s nice or because she thinks I’m stealing?
While these aren’t the most pressing racial issues, they are real. Personally, they were one of the largest contributors to my anxiety. I’m always wondering whether certain nuances occur because I’m black or woman or queer.
For example, I’m a talker. I’m that annoying student who always participates in class. Once, a guy in one of my marketing electives told me that it comes off as aggressive. While I can be terse and to-the-point, I don’t think he would’ve said that to a white woman. It just doesn’t deliver with the same ease.
I try to end my posts on a high note, but I don’t really have a how-to here. I’m still figuring it out myself, just like with everything in life.
If you deal with persistent anxiety, the first step is to breathe. In through your nose, and out through your mouth. The second step is calling someone you trust and figuring it out from there.
Anyway, smile at a black girl today.