For Smart Colored People When Their Credentials, Knowledge, and Experiences Aren’t Enough

I’ve never been one to try to throw my intelligence or education in people’s faces. I have my thoughts and opinions about things and I make them known, but I don’t feel the need to puff out my chest and prove that I’m smarter than everyone. However, I do feel some kind of way when there are matters of which I am knowledgeable, but my statement is completely disregarded and dismissed. Particularly when I’m talking to White people and especially White men. There have been times in which I felt like people either immediately brush off my opinion, lecture me about how I am wrong, or just try to show me up in my own area of expertise. And that pisses me off to no end, especially when it involves matters of race. It is frustrating because I don’t want to get caught up in an argument, but I know that my statements and opinion are at least backed up some evidence in a field that I study for a living. I feel talked down to. I sometimes feel as if my skin color immediately invalidates my perspective in the eyes of these people. Never mind that my master’s thesis is in this area, my dissertation is in this area, I have publications in this area, and I have particular life experiences. I am not saying that you should agree with me; what I am saying is that I should not be brushed aside as if I am some child who is unaware of the world.

There are some members of this group who may end up reading this post and feel some sort of anger. Frankly, I don’t give a damn. Your opinion does not really matter to me (see what I did there?). Just ask yourself why when a person of color tells you something about their experience, you feel the need to immediately dismiss their opinion or tell them that they’re wrong? Why do you feel the need to immediately lecture them without actually listening to them? Why do you feel the need to center yourself when it is not about you? Why do you need to assert your “authority” when and where it is not asked for? Why do we not matter enough for you to listen to and empathize with? To anyone who feels silenced or invalidated: you have a voice. Your voice matters. Your experiences matter. Your knowledge matters. You matter. We do have something to offer to the world. Those of us in higher education, our research matters and helps to improve the situation of the communities we come from. Activists, the work you do on the ground brings attention to the social inequities we face and through your efforts change happens. Loud and emotional change. The best kind. Everyone else, you don’t have to be a scholar or activist or politician to matter. You live these experiences even when there isn’t some scholar to research it or an activist to protest for improvement. Your experiences matter. Your experiences cannot be denied and should not be denied. We’re all in this together and damn anyone who wants to deny our humanity or disregard what we have to say.

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