The calm before the storm:

There is not a day I wake up and think, “today, I will be angry.”

I stumble across anger when politeness and friendliness aren’t reciprocated.

I have lost count of the many times I have gone out in public, not in any particular frame of mind, but to fulfill the simplest tasks such as banking or shopping for daily items like bread and milk.

The encounters:

What I encounter when going about my business is; racism, patriarchy, prejudice and often just your plain “garden-variety” rudeness.

I would be standing at a counter waiting to be attended to, and more often than not, “Karen” would come along, glance at me briefly and seconds later dismiss me as if I am nothing but an inconvenience. Invariably, the person behind the counter is a Black or Brown individual who will equally “dismiss” my presence and “above my head” will call out, “how may I help you, directing the question to the Karen. At first, I used to allow it and try to remain polite and calm, hoping the person would realise that I was there first, but lessons of such a nature can only be learned by the willing, conscious mind. So, I raise my voice to object and only then am I “seen” by both the “Karen” and the employee.

I “encounter” patriarchy when men of all races, especially white men, would just push their way to the front of the queue. They would be rude and demand service because they are “in a hurry,” dismissing that I may also be but have chosen to wait patiently for my turn. This same “type” of behaviour is displayed at 4-way stops or traffic circles (roundabouts). It’s not as if they don’t know the Rules of the Road, but their sense of entitlement means they think it’s more important for people like me to move out of the way as if they are emergency vehicles. My reaction is to slow down even more until I see the proverbial fire coming out of their nostrils while their inappropriate hand gestures make it known that they have no respect.

Then there’s just your “garden variety” rudeness. These people push past you without saying, “excuse me,” the teller at the bank who doesnt return my greeting but will greet the white person, the cashier who ignores my request for bags and leaves my goods casually strewn across the counter. The arguments I encounter if I complain about service or the lack thereof; are the rude, dismissive attitude both management and staff have towards domestic or construction workers. People they deem less than themselves.

I am not an angry, Black woman. I am a Black woman who can no longer dismiss the daily micro-aggressions levelled at me and my kind. I am exhausted that a trip to the local grocery store invariably involves racism, patriarchy and sexism when all I want to do is shop.

I want to walk, no scrap that, in fact, I’d like to meander as if I’m in a field of daisies. I want to casually stroll through a mall with a smile and go about my business.

I want to follow the rules and stand in queues without some person thinking they are more important than me.

I want to be treated as a valued customer at the bank, not a criminal based on my skin colour.

I don’t choose conflict or anger!

Racists see conflict and anger when they set eyes on me.

I’m not an angry, Black woman, but one that’s exhausted at having to live in the skin I have.