Quotidian Racism

 

“A few days after Tupac Shakur’s death in 1996, I pulled into a Safeway parking lot in Palo Alto, California, with my friend’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Danielle. We were listening to one of Shakur’s songs on the radio; because he was a hometown boy, the stations were playing his music around the clock – a kind of electromagnetic vigil, if you will. An older (but not elderly) woman with a grocery cart came to the driver’s side of my car and asked me to move my vehicle so that she could unload her groceries. The tone of her voice assumed fruition – it was not only a request but a demand that would surely be met. The Southerner in me would have been happy to help; the critic in me didn’t understand why she simply couldn’t put her groceries in on the other side where there were no other cars or potential impediments. I told the woman that I would gladly wait in my car until she unloaded her groceries – that way, there would be plenty of room for her to maneuver. While she did this, I continued to listen to Shakur’s music and talk with Danielle. We were “bonding,” and I was glad that she was talking to me about how Shakur’s death was affecting her and her classmates. When I noticed that the woman had completed her unloading, I got out and we walked behind her car toward the Safeway. What happened next has stayed with me as one of the defining moments of my life in Northern California. As we passed the right rear bumper of her car, she said with mustered indignation, “And to think I marched for you!” I was stunned at first – when something like this happens to you, you see the whole event in slow motion. I recovered and decided that I had two options: to walk away without a word or to confront the accusation – to model for Danielle how to handle with a modicum of grace what would surely be part of the fabric of her life as a black woman in the United States. I turned to the woman and said, “You didn’t march for me, you marched for yourself – and if you don’t know that, I can’t help you.”

– Sharon Patricia Holland, The Erotic Life of Racism

Bentley Mode is “an existence that is black-against-blackness, peculiar-against-queerness, sexual-against-sexuality, secure-against-insecurity, and aggressively striking-against-all angles of passivity. Bentley Mode to be hyper-Everything, even and especially in environments where values of social marginalism are shared.”

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