The cultural mandate to stand in our own personal truth has reached the point where it is almost meaningless, after all who defines truth? What does it even mean to stand in our own truth? What if my truth is different than your truth? Clearly “truth” is in the eye of the beholder; yet sometimes you hear someone sharing their truth and it resonates so deeply that you realize that it is a truth that is larger than any one of us at any given time. In fact it is a cultural and societal truth that we all strive to ignore because there are times when to speak truth is to speak pain.
Such was the case when I read about two reality stars engaging in a conversation that for many would be easy to write off; after all the speaker of this truth is known as one of the most villainous reality stars ever to exist. Omarosa Manigault is best known for her appearance on the first season of The Apprentice, where her tactics earned her the label “the woman America loved to hate.” Omarosa is an aggressive, no holds barred Black woman in a world where womanly aggression is already hard to swallow but even doubly hard to swallow for a Black woman. Omarosa recently appeared on the daytime talk show Bethenny, named for reality star and talk show host Bethenny Frankel and the conversation while made for daytime ratings and buzz (after all I am writing about this) offered a snapshot into how race still matters even when we try to deny that race is a factor.
“It’s different for you and I,” she told the talk show host. “I am an African-American woman. You get to walk around and be mediocre and you still get rewarded with things. We have to be exceptional to get anything in this business.”
In choosing to make this statement, Omarosa shared with the world some commonly shared thoughts within the Black community and I suspect thoughts that are never even considered within the white community.
Recently I have been struck by the fact that almost all my Black friends hold advanced degrees, it is the entry price we pay just to be allowed just to play on the field of opportunity. Yet within my white circle of friends, advanced degrees are still the exception and not the rule.
Opportunity in the land of the free and home of the brave is not equally distributed to all. Despite the myth that affirmative action opens doors for all people of color, there are many of us who never had a single door opened by virtue of our skin color. In fact doors were closed and we worked twice as hard just to get the door to budge and we still work hard every day just to keep that door cracked just a bit.
As the internet redefines how we receive information, I often think of the number of white writers who I am familiar with; who are able to take spaces such mine, in other words a blog and turn such spaces in to a full on income generating career. I can’t even begin to count the number of white writers for who this has happened. On the flip side, I only know of a few writers of color who have been able to do the same as their white peers. Many writers of color who write online are much like me, our spaces are labors of love that we do to feed our souls but if we depended on them to feed our bellies and the bellies of our loved ones, we would be hungry. However when one of us does land that book deal or get picked up by a mainstream publication, you best believe we were doing the work of several people in many cases.
In the end, it is not sour grapes to call out this truth, but a weary acknowledgement of just how much further we have to go. It wears on a soul to know that day in and day out, you are always being asked to prove yourself and your worth and that being just good enough is in fact not good enough at all. When you start to realize that others around you are allowed the luxury of being just good enough, instead your 200% effort must often compete with good enough. It feels like a race, you can never win.
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