After 25 years of teaching in Minneapolis with predominately all-white teachers and administrations, one day, I realized it got down to this …
If I never saw a white person again, especially a white woman, it would be too soon! “Minnesota Nice” is killing me and I’m tired of being labeled the Angry Black Woman!
I shared this despair with a friend, a white woman. She said, “Like the Well Intentioned White Girl?” We were silenced by these traumatizing complexities of stereotypes, loss of our authentic identities, grief from marginalization, and for wanting to stand in our own cultural and feminine truths.
I knew I had to continue this conversation. Was it possible to have critical and compassionate understanding? Increase our capacity for ally building? Heal from generations of collateral damage between black and white women?
I received a 2015 Minnesota State Arts Board Cultural Community Partnership Grant to explore this, write my first nontraditional play and perform “Angry Black Woman” and “Well Intentioned White Girl.”
In April, I hosted two intentionally separate community conversations. “Angry Black Woman” was for black women, held at Hope Community in south Minneapolis. “Well Intentioned White Girl” was for white women, held at Intermedia Arts, also in south Minneapolis. My vision was to create a non-bashing, safe public place for expressing the daily “unsaids” between black and white women and begin strategizing how to dismantle “Minnesota Nice.” These conversations were facilitated by my kick-butt A(lly) Team: Rebecca Frost, Jennifer Johnson, Irna Landrum, Danielle Mkali and Erika Thorne.
I’ve sat in many “diverse courageous conversations” that didn’t include my real voice. I’ve been pimped for my resiliencies and secrets for surviving pure madness. Yet, white women refuse to tell their ugly hidden and historical narratives that simultaneously yoke us while keeping us separate and not equal. Why?
It was important to continue to educate myself and other women about black and white women’s histories – our shared and differing issues, values, strategies for securing rights, resources and power. The accusations and silences reflect our mis-education about each other’s conflicts around our womanhood and the constant juxtaposition of roles in the politics of white male patriarchy.
My nontraditional play, slated for October 2015 at Intermedia Arts, will address issues that create and maintain the barriers for black and white women to be natural allies, as mothers, healers, artists, community organizers, especially in these times of wars against women.
This project has compelled me to express in Brave(r) New Words (and works) my most private feelings of hurt, betrayal, powerlessness, hopelessness and internalized oppression. It’s about the disconnections of black and white women.
It is my hope that my work inspires and encourages other women of color and white women to talk with each other, tell their experiences of racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, ableism, imperialism and colonialism that have wounded them and denied all of us our fullest humanity.
Amoke Kubat is an emerging artist, blogger (blogher-amokekubat), retired special education teacher, founder of YO MAMA: The Mothering Mothers Institute and author of “Missing Mama: My Story of Loss, Sorrow and Healing.” She lives in Minneapolis.