SHIT I’m Tired of Hearing . . .

Girl Talk: We have all been there. At work, at school, on vacation, on the subway, at home, at the store, at the gym, anywhere, someone (typically a man) has said something that, for some reason, ran through the filter of their brain but still made it out of their mouth. I cannot speak for the entire female population (because I am not a man) but I typically respond at first, and then sink into a black hole of despair, close my mouth, widen my eyes, and internally scream since (a) the person rarely realizes their mistake and (b) I know I am going to hear the same shit again tomorrow. In an attempt to save myself (and hopefully others), here is a list of things that I am tired of hearing.

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Aggressively, he turned to me, “Why do you have to do that?” I don’t understand the need to justify myself, but I did it anyway (out of habit): “Well he paid for my nails and haircut today, so the least I can do is pay for the groceries.” Even though I said this, he wasn’t listening because his mind was made up. Because he is a man. Because this is a man’s world. Ignoring me, he took the money from my boyfriend, as if mine was tainted:

“That is the man’s job. To take care of the pretty lady.”

Haha, of course. Silly me. I jumped over the counter, pushed him aside, and shoved my money in the register – or should I say, I would have done that but I just got my nails done and I am a pretty lady after all. Instead, I gave the money to my boyfriend as we exited the store and allowed the cashier to believe that it was the 1950s and I was rushing home to get my pot roast out of the oven. It is almost as if the cashier was the man who wrote the well-intended, yet tragically flawed, article, “Should a Man Pay for Everything?” You know, the article that outlines and advises men to follow THIS scenario:

“You: I’ve got this one.

Her: [Possibly looking shy and a little nervous]: No, let me pay for at least half.

You: [Smile and say in a joking manner]: Hmmm…actually, maybe you should pay for all of it because you were such a chatterbox over dinner. I had to sit here listening to you for like an hour. So, you pay for it.

Her: [Most likely laughing and blushing]: Um, okay…really?

You: [Smile and say] No, I’m just kidding. I love talking to you…you’re beautiful and interesting, so I’ll get the check this time. We can split the bill next time.

Her: [Giggling and blushing some more] Okay.”

If only the cashier engaged me in such pleasant banter, followed by compliments of my appearance! Let me revise the conversation to make it more suitable:

Her: I got this one.

Him: Wow, thanks!

Everyone Else: Minds their damn business.

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The mistake that I made was working out alone, without headphones. I had just finished a set so I thought that it would be perfectly acceptable to take a break and let myself breathe. Once again, silly me. I saw a man, most likely in his late 50’s approach me. The second mistake I made was allowing eye contact:

“You need help there?”

Confused, I responded “No, thank you.” I immediately became mad at myself: Why did I respond so politely? Why was I thanking him? Nothing about my stance nor my expression signaled that I was in distress in anyway. Yet this is how I responded because this is how I am conditioned. Reject them politely. Do not anger them. Ignore that you are offended. You do not want to offend them. I look down, waiting for him to walk away. As he comes closer, he lingers: “I’m only joking.” I turn around, lips pursed, eyebrows slightly raised, eyes squinted, and nostrils flared with a deep sigh that contains: “he did not just . .  .”  Another thing I am conditioned to do, turn my words into breaths so that I can remain quiet to ensure that he will leave.

You see, I get that you are joking but the only funny thing here is the fact that you thought you had comedic gold when you were just offering me up some coal. It’s funny how you believe that, even at your age and position, you could offer me more help than I can for myself. Oh, you know a joke is hilarious when you have to announce that it is a joke. What is even funnier is the fact that according to a survey conducted by Stop Street Harassment in 2008, 23% of women paid to exercise in a gym rather than outside since they had a (justified) fear of street harassment, yet I pay $30 a month to be exposed to your comedy hour. Anyway, to my response: I kept my lips pursed, nodded my head, and avoided eye contact as you disappeared believing that you had accomplished your mission. Whereas I had officially ranked you after Gabriel Iglesias on my humor scale.

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I work as a teacher. I love my students dearly. I probably care about them a bit more than I should, but I suppose I am just a bit sentimental. Time and time again, I always hear someone saying:

“It’s those motherly instincts.”

I am nobody’s mother. I do hope to be one in the future, but this is a decision that I have made, not a destined life path. The same people that claim my motherly instincts are the reason behind my profession are (a) not aware that there are amazing male teachers *gasp* and (b) the ones who question a woman when she is going to have a baby rather than if she is going to have one. According to Ragsdale’s “The Maternal Myth,” “To qualify as an instinct, the behavior should be automatic, irresistible, triggered by something in the environment, occur at some particular time during development, require no training, be unmodifiable and occur in all individuals of a species” (Psychology Today). Keep this definition in mind and pair it with the nurturing essence that people categorize as maternal. Based on this belief, a father simply cannot care for his child – he is not nurturing, he does not have maternal instincts, the child is in grave danger, the wife must remain at home so that she can care for the child, this is the law of the land – this is the law of 1950. As we are in the year 2017, and I bust my ass to succeed in my career, I would appreciate it very much if you accredited my success to my intelligence and work ethic, or your primitive mindset will activate my primal Fight instinct.

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Anger. Annoyance. Frustration. I am sure that these are feelings that are not unknown to you. I am sure that you have felt them before, yet for some reason, when I am mad, there is always a question behind it, and no, it does not involve my well-being, instead it is:

“Are you on your period or something?”

You know, since women lose complete control over their emotions when they have their period. Having cramps is uncomfortable, and I may be irritable because of it, but I do not undergo a metamorphosis and turn into someone with no emotional regulation. I cannot count the number of times that I have heard this question directed towards me, or towards someone else. In fact, when I was younger, I internalized this belief and even asked this question myself. Thankfully, I, unlike some, learned from my mistake by noticing the discrepancies among how we treat feelings in relation to men and women. How come men can be short-tempered at times without experiencing a monthly phenomenon that transforms them? It is as if these emotions are not accessible to women – as if these emotions can only be achieved once a month when the planets align on the 28th day of the cycle. As if our period is some omniscient creature in the sky determining our interactions. I am sorry that it is not clear that my annoyance is a direct response to your stupidity. Period.

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In middle school, I wore a spaghetti mustard-colored tank top. Although this was before mustard was deemed a worthy yellow to be worn, I was surprisingly not policed by the fashion institution. Instead, I was confronted by my principal because I was dressed inappropriately since he said:

“Your bra strap is showing.”

SHIT! Thank you for letting me know! I forgot that a visible bra strap is worse than looking directly at a solar eclipse. Although this was my first time hearing such a remark, it was certainly not the last. To be honest, I am not quite sure what reaction people expect from me when they tell me this. I think that they are hoping that I will end the madness and come to my senses before the disaster reaches its peak and is past the point of return. In reality, they are simply enforcing (without even meaning to sometimes) that a girl’s body is objectified. That a girl cannot have her bra straps showing because it serves as a reminder that a girl has breasts. That a girl cannot reveal that she has breasts because it is not modest.  According to Laura Bates, interactions like the one that I had with my middle school principal lead to “several big questions[:] [1] Are we saying that girls’ bodies are dangerous and sexual, even if they themselves don’t choose to seem them in that way? [2] Are we really saying that boys can’t control themselves and girls are responsible for covering up because otherwise the guys won’t be able to help themselves from looking/harassing/groping? [3] Who is being ‘protected’ and why?” (Girl Up 67). And the answer to question number three is certainly not a bra strap because those things are hella sturdy, but perhaps the male fragility is what’s being protected.

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When I told the principal that I did not have a sweater to put on, he commanded me to go to my gym locker and throw on my gym shirt since my current outfit was:

“distracting others.”

Yes, sir – but the fact that you made me retrieve my gym shirt made me miss class. But sir, the fact that I had to wear my gym shirt the entire day distracted me. But sir, the fact that my peers were able to somehow find their way through the halls despite my hazardous shirt seems to suggest that perhaps it is only distracting to YOU.  As Valenti adequately notes, “‘It’s not the responsibility of female students to mitigate the male gaze. You find female bodies ‘distracting’? That’s your problem, not women’s” (I Am Not A Slut 152). Yet at that time, I did not have the sense of the world that I do now. Instead, I immediately felt ashamed of my body. Not to mention I was incredibly embarrassed because I had to wear my gym shirt the entire day at school, which caused a stigma. I was wearing my gym shirt because I was dressed “inappropriately.” Without even knowing the word yet, I felt like a slut. We discipline girls because we believe that their bodies distract our boys, but we seldom teach our boys not to objectify a girl’s body.

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We have all seen the jokes behind a guy, with good intentions, reaching out to a girl and her automatically assuming that he is trying to flirt with her so she responds with the notorious: “I have a boyfriend.” I admit that I find some of them funny, and that sometimes the phrase is not needed but I do want to call to attention the reason why we even feel the need to use this phrase. You know, since the word “no,” or the blatant response, “No thanks, I am not interested,” is not a clear indicator that a girl is not interested in a guy.

When I used to manage at a retail company, I would walk over to the pizza shop to grab a bite to eat – since I am human and I need food in order to survive. Yet I often questioned my need for survival because of one worker who apparently loved being sleazy as much as I loved a greasy lunch. Every single girl that worked with me knew who he was because he tried the same tired tricks on all of us. It would begin with a simple compliment, and always led up to him asking to hang out. I would always politely decline, yet one day he finally asked me:

“Is it because you have a boyfriend?”

Something that has always bothered me. Why not ask me of I had a boyfriend before asking me out several times? Why ask this question after constantly making me uncomfortable? Because even though I never flirted or showed him any interest, he refused to believe that I was simply not into him. For him, there had to be something else. Yet being single or taken did not determine that I did not have any interest in him. I have never walked into that pizza shop and asked for a single order of pancakes, because no matter how bad I may have wanted it, it was not available. So for the pizza guy who was constantly trying to order a stroke for his ego: I was never there for you to believe that I would have been into you “if it weren’t for my lousy boyfriend”(cue Scooby Doo villain voice), I was there for the 2 pizza slice and 1 soda can lunch combo.

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Unfortunately, some of you reading this article will leave with this ridiculous notion that I am some man-hating feminist, and to that, all I have to say is: (a) you are probably a man, or (b) you are a woman in denial who has yet to discover the sexist world that you live in so you rather tear down enlightened woman due to the fear that if you agree, you will look like some man-hating feminist (which if that is the case, please return when you escape the darkness).

In this day and age, society would like to believe that it has evolved past these “trivialities,” but as someone who was able to compile a lengthy article that documented and analyzed multiple occurrences, it is very clear that I highly disagree. This article is meant to illuminate how some of us have internalized, and later project, very sexist notions – but then again, I am just a pretty lady who gets to hear this shit everyday.

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Why My Interracial Relationship Isn’t Black and White

A little over a year ago, my boyfriend and I were walking on my college campus. An elderly black woman approached us and said, “You guys make such a cute couple.”

  1. Clearly – but . . .
  2. How was she able to say this with the utmost certainty? It is not like she witnessed the amazing captions on my IG posts or the time that he left a flower on my car while I was at work, so what was her deal?

Although I would like to believe that she had the purest intentions, it felt as if she wanted

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The hands that can apparently cease racism.

to prove that she supported our campaign, or that she would be interested in buying what we would be selling. To some, the prospect of a black man dating a white woman leads to a highly valuable commodity. Single-handedly, or should I perhaps say through holding hands, my relationship ends racism. People believe that our relationship is an indicator of living in a post-racial world but that very assumption goes against that very ludicrous statement. If we truly lived in such a world, my race nor his race would matter. Yet it does, significantly. Surprisingly, (sarcasm) to people who are not even a part of it.

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“You guys will have such cute babies! Mixed babies are the cutest!”

  1. Once again, clearly – the baby will come from me after all.
  2. I would like to think that my baby will be cute because it will be given the most favorable genes, you know, since the whole idea that “multiracial children are simply the cutest” is dehumanizing as it turns the baby into a fetish.
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According to NatGeo, this is how an average American will look by 2050.

In 2014, National Geographic’s 125th anniversary issue collected images of multiracial individuals to depict how the “average American” would look by the year 2050. The article asserted that America is expected to become an amalgamated race due to data from the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau as it showed an increase in both interracial marriages, and individuals selecting more than one race to identify themselves. Among these interracial marriages is the 2014 union of household names: Kim Kardashian and Kanye West (just bare with me). Their marriage received a varying degree of responses involving fans who praised the couple for “seeing beyond race” while others saw this ‘miscegenation’ as problematic. Prior to their nuptials, the couple welcomed their daughter, North West, in 2013. Even though North is met with occasional racist remarks, she has generated a huge fan base due to her mixed-race. Similar to the multiplicity of her name, North West showcases the mixed orientations that American society assumes when approaching multiracial individuals. Multiracial people are fetishized because they are believed to be the product of a post-race world, and as evidenced by the National Geographic, it is this narrative that the media chooses to tell.[1]

Some scholars attribute the fetishism and commercialization of multiracialism to a misconception of its history. The 2010 census is believed to indicate a change in the ways that we perceive race as a whole, specifically multiracialism, because of its documented “rapid growth of multiracial identities.”[2] Yet in Undercover Asian: Multiracial Asian Americans in Visual Culture, LeiLani Nishime asserts that “A change in politics explains the ‘emergence’ of multiracial people as much, if not more than, changing demographics. It is not multiracial people themselves but the recognition of people as multiracial that is new” (2). The data collected from the 2010 census was a result from new categories that allowed multiracial people to identify themselves. Hence, the new millennia did not generate an increase in multiracialism, it granted alternative racial classifications that were once not accessible. This notion begins to deconstruct the assumption that multiracialism is the onset of a post-race era.

My relationship, and other interracial relationships are praised because of this assumption, yet as I pointed out, multiracialism is not a new concept. It has existed years before my relationship, and will continue to outlast my boyfriend and myself. Yet throughout that time, it was, and will never be, the eraser for race. In fact, I would argue that multiracialism reminds us that race is very problematic, and indeed prevalent as the individual is reminded that they are not entirely one race, nor entirely the other – they must exist in a space in between. So please, do not expect my unborn child to become a poster child for a system that will ostracize them for not fitting in.

[1] For example, Jeffrey Santa Ana discusses the recent exploitation of racially mixed people in cultural productions in “Feeling Ancestral: The Emotions of Mixed Race and Memory in Asian American Cultural Productions.”
[2] Nishime, LeiLani (2).

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“Is it true? Once you go black, you never go back?”

  1. No, but you know what is true? Once you ask me that question, we will not talk again.
  2. You are not only insulting me, but my boyfriend as well.

I feel like there is often this misconception that white women only date black men because they want to exploit them. I believe this notion is strongly tied to the notorious phrase, Jungle Fever. This phrase assumes that a white person is attracted to the stereotype of a black person: someone who is loud, aggressive, and highly sexual. I am not dating my boyfriend because he is black, I am dating him for the person that he is. The problem with statements like these are that it turns a person into a caricature. As said by Chin Lu when discussing the phrase Yellow Fever, being attracted to someone because they are Asian, “But someone expecting me to fulfill all the cultural stereotypes of my race that he’s infatuated with? That is called prejudiced ignorance and a refusal to recognize me as a complex, real human being” (the Bold Italic). So please, do not turn my boyfriend into a one-dimensional, poorly drawn caricature.

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“A black man who dates a white woman does not support our struggle.”

  1. Hypocrite.
  2. This is most certainly directed towards Dr. Umar Johnson and the man in Philadelphia who felt the need to loudly demean interracial relationships, specifically involving a black man and a white woman, while sitting two chairs away from us.

Remember how I mentioned that our relationship does not remove the notion of race? There is this belief that has been circulating around that through dating a white woman, a black man goes against who he is. That through dating this woman, he loses his identity as a black man, and he additionally rejects black woman. Isn’t that absurd?

I feel like I need to place a disclaimer here before I continue. Yes, there are some men that demean black women, and that is the problem. Not someone dating another race, but members of the same (and different) races bringing one another down. We constantly preach Love is Love, so why can we not believe that people are dating each other because of who their partner is rather than what their partner is.

Through my relationship, I have gained awareness rather than diminish his identity. As a white woman, I will never share some of his experiences – but that does not mean that I cannot learn from them. That does not mean that I cannot support him. As a man, he has not experienced the paranoia I face every time I walk to my car at night in an empty parking lot, but he has learned from it. Yet that is the beauty of a relationship, being able to see the world through another person’s perspective, and then using that to better yourself.

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“So you have like a black card now, right?”

  1. I am afraid that the card came up declined.
  2. The card is non-transferable.

I understand that race is a social construct but unlike gender, it is certainly not fluid. Nothing makes me cringe more than someone claiming that they have a pass for another

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I am sure when Chapelle made this skit he did not foresee people believing that racial drafts exist.

race because they are around people of that race. That is like me saying, you know, I spent one month living with my grandmother sewing scarves and eating Werther’s, so I am basically a 75 year old woman. Although this statement is less offensive, I do hope that it demonstrates the ridiculous logic behind the heading. People who claim this are usually the closet racists who think they can get away with racist remarks under the guise that they have the *insert race that they are insulting* card. My boyfriend is not an excuse for me to be racist, nor a way for me to claim a culture that it is not my own. Just like he is not any less black for dating me, I am not any more black for dating him.

 

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“Get Out!”

  1. Yes, I am referencing Jordan Peele’s film.
  2. Yes, two girls said this to me as my boyfriend and I left the theater.

I spoke about this moment the day that it happened in a post titled, A Letter To You Two. Perhaps what bothers me the most about this statement is the fact that this film was meant to illuminate how, according to Lanre Bakare, “however unintentionally, these same people [middle white class liberals] can make life so hard and uncomfortable for black people. It exposes a liberal ignorance and hubris that has been allowed to fester” (The Guardian), yet some of the responses, like the remark that I received, produced the same effect that the film was trying to expose. That “however, unintentionally” people can make it uncomfortable for the parties involved in an interracial relationship. That although we have the same problems that any other couple faces, we have an added pressure – on one hand, we are expected to be the solution for racism and feed into the juvenile belief that we are on the cusp of living in a post-racial world, yet on the other hand, our relationship failing can be chalked up to white and black being unable to blend into a neutral gray. However, just like any relationship, there is nothing black and white about ours.

Why Holland’s Spider-Man is the Hero We Need

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With our current political crisis, it is no wonder why superhero movies have been performing exceptionally at the box office. We seek an escape that provides us with the feeling that justice will prevail. As that feeling only lasts approximately 1 and 1/2 hours, we wait until another film comes out to fill that void. But when a film hits so close to home that the feeling exceeds its typical shell life, you find yourself sitting in front of the computer writing about Spider-Man: Homecoming.

True to its name, Homecoming is the return of Spider-Man. Packaged in all his quirkiness, Holland’s Spider-Man is the hero that we never knew we needed:

  1. Homecoming does not dwell in Spider-Man’s overplayed origin story.  This Peter Parker already has his powers and it is not until about halfway in the film that Peter briefly discusses the spider bite. And let’s face it, in our current society, we seem more concerned with the questions Who are you going to be? and What can you do? rather than Where did you come from? We value the effect more than the cause. Just ask anyone fresh out of college – no employer cares about the degree, they want experience.giphy1
  2. This Spider-Man is very familiar with the above scenario. Unlike Maguire’s Peter Parker who constantly underwent an identity crisis, Holland’s Spider-Man knows who he is and what he wants to do – however, he just has to prove himself to those who came before him. It is almost as if he is part of a generation that is doubted on the sole basis that they are born during their generation . . . Anyway, Holland’s Spider-Man wants to work with the Avengers yet he is never given a chance to prove himself while simultaneously being expected to prove himself (almost like being expected to get a job to gain experience while simultaneously being asked to have experience before getting a job).
  3. There is a scene in the film in which Parker’s friend, Ned, reveals that he has a connection to Spider-Man to impress Liz, the girl that Parker has been crushing on since the beginning of the film. Intrigued by this information, Liz invites Ned and Parker to her party. The two arrive, and after being antagonized by Manuel, Parker’s school rival, Parker suits up and plans to enter the party as Spider-Man to woo the crowd. But he never does. He does not risk his identity to win over the girl. In fact, he does not even end up with the girl. Whereas previous Spider-Man films have been dominated by the romantic Mary Jane arc, Homecoming provides us with a hero who must make sacrifices.
  4. Yet Parker, nor the audience, are upset over the loss of Liz because she isn’t what he chases after the entire film. Parker gets what he wants at the end, a full-time superhero gig. Surprisingly, Parker turns down Tony Stark’s offer to become an Avenger. Parker chooses to remain a “small-town” hero. The underdog has now become the hero for the rest of the underdogs.giphy2
  5. Despite being a superhero movie, the fighting scenes were not intense or noteworthy. Even the villain, the Vulture, seems insignificant compared to other candidates such as Green Goblin, Scorpion, etc. – villains that would have allowed for full utilization of special effects. There were no larger than life moments in the film, but that is because Holland’s Spider-Man is not a larger than life character.

Holland’s Spider-Man provides us with a hero who deals with external factors rather than an internal crisis. One that truly resembles its viewers, someone trying to make a name for themselves, without the glitz and glamour that is typically found among superheroes.

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That’s All 90’s: The Why For Generation Y

Right now, I am sitting on the edge of my bed staring at my Powerline T-shirt slipping out of a Hot Topic bag. Even though I pride myself over this purchase, as The Goofy Movie is one of the most underrated Disney movies of all time, I cannot help but to feel a bit conflicted. Recently I have noticed a rise in all things 90’s. The 90’s are back but unfortunately they are not to stay. We have always been a nation that has revolved around nostalgia (we did spend 8 years wondering whatever happened to the milkman, the paperboy and evening tv) but now, perhaps more than ever, we are clutching onto something we cannot hold: time. From the new Tomagotchi models, a toy that taught us about the dangers of negligence early on, to reboots of 90’s sitcoms, I feel like wherever I go, I seem to find something from the 90’s attempting to climb out of a black hole and ground its feet on our present surface.

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A Letter to You Two

To the Girls at the Movie Theater,

After watching Get Out, my head was spinning because of all the potential posts that I could write. However, this moment was short-lived. When the credits appeared on screen and the lights began to brighten, I took a quick glance of the theater and realized that my boyfriend and I mirrored the dynamics of Rose and Chris. By dynamics, I do not mean that I am dating him because I want to lure him to my home so that my sadistic and racist family could exploit him – no, I simply mean that he is black and I am white. This should not qualify as a dynamic, but in reality this is an unfortunate “factor”of our relationship. There are moments when I do not think of this, but then there are moments when I am hyper aware – moments when strangers have stopped us while we are walking just to inform us that we are “a beautiful couple.” Yet the way that they say this phrase always suggests as if the speaker is applauding us for some noble act. As if our relationship is doing a service for the community. Lets face it, some individuals view interracial couples as the solution for racial tension. Interracial couples will lead to multiracial children, multiracial children will lead to a post-racial world. How can racism exist if we are all one race? Wrong. The answer to racism is not removing race and the prospect for a solution should certainly not be a burden bestowed upon a relationship. There is enough internal turmoil for a couple to face, they do not need added unnecessary, unrealistic, and fallacious external factors forced upon them.

The solution is awareness. We need to be aware of our racial differences and how these differences affect us. We need to expose our prejudices to prevent them from dictating our lives. Film has always been an excellent source of reflection, and that is why Get Out is extremely crucial during a time when racial tension has been drastically increasing. The audience of Get Out should experience a sense of horror, removed from the self, as they witness Chris’ encounters. Yet this horror should immediately become replaced with terror. Terror due to the political undertone of the film – terror that stems from the reality of the film.

My discomfort stemmed from the anticipation of leaving the theater and listening to someone make a snide remark. The remarks that I have seen circulating around social media since the film has been released. I tried to convince myself that no one would direct a comment towards me but you felt compelled to do otherwise. As we left, holding hands, you two began whispering, “Get Out” to my boyfriend while nudging your heads to his direction (as if you needed to clarify who you were speaking to). At first, I was slightly taken aback, but the more I thought about your remarks, the more bothered I became. I am troubled because I am worried that instead of using the film as a platform for open discussions concerning white privilege, racial tension, and much more, people will use this film to confirm some archetype of a white woman dating a black man. There is often hostility directed towards a black man for dating a white woman because the assumption is that he does not believe women of his own race are good enough while she is either experimenting or rebelling and using him to accomplish either. But I am here to tell you both this:

I am sorry that my relationship cannot be your fairy-tale and grant you a happily ever after – it cannot end racism.

I am sorry that my relationship cannot be your horror story and provide you with chills – there is no grander scheme to it.

Yet we can allow my relationship to be its own story by allowing it to flourish without pressuring it to succeed and certainly without praying for it to succeed.

Best,

The Girl that You Probably Did Not Mean to Hurt or Disregard.