A thought hit me last night while I prepared for bed; “I wasn’t a militant [person] until I came to college.”
Militant. A word synonymous with words like “aggressive, radical, revolutionary, combative, rebellious, belligerent, and confrontational.” For some, this may be approached with joy. As for myself, this label disgusts me.
I am neither of those terms. I don’t consider myself aggressive, combative, rebellious, belligerent, or confrontational when I take a stance on issues. I also do not consider my ideas to be radical or revolutionary and I will readily tell you those that have inspired me, as well as who I “follow.”
My issue with being militant is that Black people are too often placed in this category if we do, say, or act in a way that suggests we are for BLACK emPOWERment. Many times, we’re simply for Black empowerment. But I digress.
The thought that came to mind last night after I realized that I wasn’t a “militant” person until I got to college was why do people classify my thinking as militant, separatist, and exclusivist when I’m only thinking, saying, promoting the same things that the Majority has been? Is it that I generally believe that people who look like me deserve the opportunity to succeed (better schools, jobs, grocery stores, etc)? Or is it because I feel deep within myself that we are capable of it and we don’t need the help of the Majority?
Maybe that’s what it is.
I’m militant because I want what the Majority wants for us…I just don’t want their help (this is an entirely different blog, stay tuned for that).
Or could it be that I’m militant for obvious reasons? I’m of a darker complexion (this makes it easier to believe that I’m inherently more sinister than my lighter brethren). No, better yet, I wear my hair in its natural state (why is it that women of color catch more slack for this than Majority women, especially when our hair is courser than cute?). Or, my all time favorite, I like to bring up the fact that race (whether we acknowledge it or not) places a role in interactions between different people?
However, I’ll go back to my initial point: “I was NOT considered or called militant until I went to college” and here is where my contention lies with being labeled as such. It’s Black people who have chosen to do this. My peers have chosen to label me in a fashion that causes the Majority concern. This troubles me deeply. I often wonder, “What’s different about the Black people here from the ones that live in my neighborhood?”
No, I prefer the definition given to me by those in my community. They recognize me for what I am. I’m passionate about issues that revolve around my community. I work to educate myself about those leaders before me who worked towards liberating the masses. I also engage in critical discussions about a range of topics with other intellectual [Black] people.
See, I wasn’t seen as rebellious when I decided that educational success was for me. I was seen as smart. I wasn’t seen as aggressive or combative for speaking up about issues that folks talk about in their kitchens when they come home from work. I was seen as socially conscious and responsible. I wasn’t seen as rebellious for choosing to educate myself about previous leaders of my community. It was looked at as something that HAD to be done. Something was necessary. And the ONLY time I’ve ever been looked at confrontational by those who know me was when I actually had to fight…as in fistfight. Never was I looked at as confrontational when I decided to point out or question why my treatment (or the treatment of those around me) was different. Never was I considered militant, but I was being a responsible person.
So whatever your reason for thinking I’m militant, I’ll ask that you stop.
Because whether or not you believe it, one way to surely cause me to become aggravated is to call me a Militant.