I often hear:
‘You get angry super quickly’
‘You need to act more like a lady, not so violent’
Yet In the same breath, people have said:
‘You’re such a sweet person’
‘I can never imagine you hitting anyone’
I must have quite a complex personality to be able to be both the villain and the hero, but I find myself stumbling across this contradiction all the time.
The other day, I was with a few friends, eating too much food and drinking too far TOO much wine. In the mist of laughter and chewing someone mumbled ‘don’t say that, Sharan will get angry and start a fight with you!’
It was in response to something I couldn’t hear, something i couldn’t have formed an opinion on and wouldn’t have been able to unsheathe my sword.
But just because I’m Indian, just because I’m the only person of colour sitting on that table and just because my story is different, it’s not my fault.
Just because that person who screamed ‘go back to your country’ at me the other day makes you feel uneasy, I’m not going to forget.
Just because I voice concern, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to.
I mean, I’m not angry, I’m trying to talk to you, but as you close your ears, I find my voice raising, getting louder, until my throat scratches from the strain and you find your comfort in silence.
Yet here I am, red faced and frustrated.
The words ‘stop being so angry’ echoing in my mind.
A man at a bar once screamed at me to ‘shut the hell up & sit down or he’ll have to spank me’. My body shuddered and I began to sweat. I slowly lowered myself to my seat, not in response to his strong masculine musk, but out of fear for my life.
The people around him laughed and cheered and I found myself frozen, worried about moving my backside off the seat in case he finds a reason to touch me.
My quiet submission pleased him as he told his story and everyone carried on laughing. One of his friends turned to me, ‘don’t take it so seriously, god people like you really suck the fun out of places’.
I nodded and tried to smile at him, as the fear that kept me glued to that chair had taken over my whole body. I waited for the right time, as he was turned away and made my escape.
That was a regular night, not an exceptional circumstance.
That man wasn’t angry or violent, it seemed.
He was funny. Apparently, he was the hero, no matter what.
Now imagine you put on lipstick in the morning and throughout the day it wears off, you left it at home, so it doesn’t get topped up. Later that day you go meet someone, it’s almost completely gone.
‘I was wearing lipstick today’ you may say
‘No you weren’t’
‘Uh…no I was, I put it on’
‘No, because I can’t see it, I can’t experience it, so I don’t believe it’
You sit there, searching for remnants of your lipstick, you look for receipts of its purchase, while all you hear is ‘I think that the reason your lips have a tiny bit of colour is because you’ve been biting them’.
‘No I don’t bite my lips, why aren’t you listening to me?’
You walk away, flustered, angry. It’s not the lipstick, who cares about lipstick. It’s the straight up denial. It’s the refusal to believe or trust you.
‘People are racist and I need to talk about it’, you make that announcement through your actions and your words and your sensibility.
And through everyone else's you hear:
‘Well, actually, race is a construct, we are all humans after all…’
And you feel yourself getting louder, your face redder and the frustration stronger.
And all you can hear is 'stop bing so angry'
So what do I do?
Me? I don’t change. I’m loud if I need to be, I yell if I need to yell. If one person finds comfort to tell me to stop being angry, someone else will hear my words.
If one person shuts his ears, others will open theirs.
And one day, the angry brown girl, will be the brown girl leading your world.
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