I figured I would write this post to share my recent experiences with some individuals in my department and specifically with some of my classmates in one of my classes this semester. This semester I have come to understand that there is nothing more dangerous than an intelligent, well spoken, conscious, & confident African woman. I have become aware of this because my classmates have highlighted me as a present threat in class.
While in lab during a dissection discussion I asked a question about the material. I asked the young lady in my lab group who was leading the discussion a question about one of the structures we were dissecting & immediately a young man in my lab group yelled at me & proceeded to berate me in front of the lab group telling me that I should not talk during dissection discussion(even while 7 other people were talking) & mind you NO ONE defended me. I grabbed my notes & excused myself. I went & studied alone for the rest of lab. I took this action because had I stayed I would not have been able to bite my tongue. Later while studying alone the young man who had previously yelled at me came up to me saying. “I’m sorry I yelled at you. I’m just very protective over her. I feel like I needed to protect her from you.” After treating me indifferently & yelling at me a second time. I emailed him saying that we should discuss his issues with me prior to the next lab. He in an email claimed that, “You think you’re smarter than everyone else, you’re condescending, & you’re always trying to “tell it how it is” & I know others in the lab group feel the same way”. I approached him the next day in lab & asked him how my behavior had led to his perception & he stated that, “When we’re in lab & a question is asked in lab you always answer it really fast when I’m still trying to process the question in my head & I can hear you answering it & it makes me mad.” I then asked him why he yelled at me the second time & he said, “I felt like you were attacking her. I just feel like I need to protect her.”
I was deemed a threat by this young man twice (that I know of). This young man had no justifications for needing to protect that young lady I was asking questions. By saying that he needed to protect her he deemed me a threat, dangerous, he placed himself on the defensive. I have heard from other individuals that those in my class have said I am one of the smartest people in my class. I did not say that at all. Nor do I or did I think that. And as a person who is an introvert in class, that very last thing that I am capable of is coming off as condescending. When I confronted this young man about his accusations he had no justifications besides ones of bias.
Weaponized African Woman
One of the most dangerous things in a racist, classist, sexist society is a well informed African. A threat is naturally felt by those who happen to be blanketed by societal privilege. There are many incidents where African women have dealt with being deemed as a threat whether or not they are quiet or decide to make a statement. The threat is thought to be real & people are willing to act out on it. Just think about this incident. I am still trying to figure out how this incident happened in the first place. This is not the first time that I have dealt with being deemed as the present threat in a classroom & it will not be the last. Situations like these must be thought about & discussed. Especially seeing that women of African descent have to deal with the interactions of race, sex, as well as class. These are powerful forces that are real & affect people NO MATTER WHERE THEY ARE. I made the mistake of thinking that I was safe in the academic setting & I was proved vehemently wrong.