The day that I realized how I was perceived by Westerners was the day that I finally came to my senses.
These worldly travelers had climbed the mountains in Burma and drank horchata with the Zapatistas.
They read current affairs and occasionally skimmed a novel—or two.
They acclimated to the local environment by truly understanding the number system. Carefully counting every piaster and dinar is of utmost importance when you’re purporting the strengths of capitalism.
Every dollar matters.
While money was one matter, what was shocking was how much they understood me better than I understood myself.
For one, they somehow gathered that my rights have always been infringed upon. Taken away by some melanin-rich man with a desire for tyranny.
They convincingly documented the relationship between the attire of all brown women and their alleged (in)ability to exercise power. Who knew that the amount of Assam silk covering my body could have a direct relationship to my job opportunities?
Secondly, their imagination was abound. Every private space became compared to the eighteenth-century harem and its vestiges. Did pashas and beys really have access to any woman of his choosing? While a room full of women bedizened with resplendent curtains, embroidered pillows, and pliable carpet is a sight —we no longer practice this tradition.
One could only dream.
When the Westerners live in the past and forget the present, they fail to understand what black and brown women have to offer.
Our strength flows in the bedrock of the Ganges River, the Nile River, and the Senegal River.
We have raised our fists, banged some pots, and we have occasionally gotten into fist fights.
We have traveled to other formerly colonized nations and we have been imprisoned when we challenged our political system.
We are angry, awkward, beautiful, creative, and on some days we are daring.
So even when the erudite Westerner explains why we are so oppressed, we know to be weary of their expertise and be wide opened to the world we want to live in.