To White People: You’re gonna have to smile first

I know. I know. That changes things quite a bit. This is not how we usually roll past each other. It’s not how we do things. How we function.

It’s on me to make sure cashiers see me and my big smile when I enter a store, regardless of what emotion I’m feeling, whether it’s a shit day or I’m really wishing to not be seen but I need to pick up my prescription.

It’s on me to show them very quickly that I’m harmless. That I’m not a thief nor am I going to blow up, go off or get uppity. I need them to believe I’m one of the good ones.

It’s on me to move aside and apologize if you bump into me with your cart. I’m in the space you want to enter.

It’s on me to not make any quick moves. And keep my hands out of my pockets.

It’s on me to lower my voice.

It’s on me to calm down and shush my laughter.

It’s on me to make sure you’re comfortable.

Yes, I’m wearing my No Justice No Peace t-shirt with a Black Lives Matter mask, and all my blessed turquoise, which is confusing for you. Maybe. I’m not exactly Black Black, but I’m Brown and if you need to stare at my hair, I have to be okay with that. I wore it out so what can I expect.

O Wait. We’re wearing masks. I can’t see if your lips are tight, if you’re sneering with disgust, ready to spit, or if you would actually smile.

I don’t know what to do now. How do I navigate the space we share?

See- If you’d had enough, if you think you’ve been quiet around all the Black and Brown people you had to encounter today, yesterday, this year or the last and today is the day of “I gotta say something about these people and all this shit,” I could easily be on the receiving end of that. I think about this every time I go out. With every white person I pass. Is this going to be that moment?

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