Show Some Skin | Thursday, March 25, 2021
I’ve done things differently.
Tried to be other ways. Spoken more softly. Straightened my hair. Smiled some more. SLOUCHED. All to make those around me more comfortable in a world that was designed to profit off of my agony, and intentionally misunderstand me and then question WHY I’m angry.
I’m angry because my screams for help are laughed at and listened to like our STOLEN jazz, hip-hop and blues. Because I’m me, I’m not you. But when I tell you my screams are in fact screams you look at me sideways like “How can that be true?” or “I don’t believe you” or “What did YOU do?”
Nothing — except not look like you.
I’m angry because I have to be on my deathbed for you to believe that I’m not okay, and by then it’s too late. You’ll only believe when it happens to you, but you won’t even process that it’s the same thing I went through — but 100 times worse than you.
I’m angry because the INCORRECT ASSUMPTION of me dating a teammate was somehow worse than two of my teammates actually dating. Guess what their skin color is.
I’m angry because you’d rather be liked than be angry. You have the choice and you’re making the wrong one. My choice was made for me when I was born with kinky hair and a surplus of melanin instead of blue eyes and fair skin.
AND WHEN I TELL PEOPLE WHY I’M ANGRY, THEY PRETEND NOT TO SEE OR BLATANTLY IGNORE ME.
And if I’m not outraged at their anger, I’M the paradigm of “The Big Three,” but I’ve realized why you really hate me.
Because it’s easy.
Because my skin absorbs the sun and my hair defies gravity.
Because I’ve always shouted the things you don’t want to hear. You’d rather feign peaceful ignorance and spit at me because I’m not awarded that luxury.
My black skin discredits me.
WOULD YOU CARE ABOUT MY PAIN AND LISTEN TO ME IF HAD BLONDE HAIR AND WHITE SKIN? WAS 5-FOOT-6 AND PAPER THIN? IF I REPLACED MY SCOWL WITH A STUPID GRIN?
Of course not.
But be at ease! No more futile efforts, as small minds cannot be appeased. Or pleased. I SEE THEM when we champion mediocre white voices, and silence EXCEPTIONAL BLACK VOICES.
I used to think the incessant heckling would cease, but I’ve stopped thinking that.
Because your boos don’t phase me
when I’ve seen what makes you clap.
You reserve your applause for the mundane.
The whitewashed, diluted, hand-me-downs that could NEVER come close to seeing the black crown.
And if you’ve been listening, you should know that I know that shouting the truth as loud as I’m able won’t make my pain and anger stop. The real truth behind it all is this:
You hate me because I’m angry.
I hate you because you’re not.
Mikki Vaughn is a part of this year’s Show Some Skin. Show Some Skin is a student-run initiative committed to giving voice to unspoken narratives about identity and difference. Using the art of storytelling as a catalyst for positive social change across campus, we seek to make Notre Dame a more open and welcoming place for all. If you are interested in breaking the silence and getting involved with Show Some Skin, email [email protected]
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.