Monday, May 11, 2009
What Looks like Crazy on an Ordinary Day
“I am not crazy, I tell them. I am disconsolate. I show them in the dictionary that it means dejected, deprived of consolation. Whatever it is, they are sick of it. They are waiting for it to go away. They do not understand that I am also waiting for it to go away.”
---bell hooks in Black Bone
I have been pondering what “crazy” means for Women, especially Black Women who has been labeled by their Black family members, Black boyfriends and girlfriends as “crazy”. A word that I have been called over and over again in my life. A word that I think silences Women from saying wild and dangerous things or owning their own “crazy” thoughts. In my family I have heard this word thrown at Women like it’s an adjective to describe their beings. Yet, I cannot remember an instance when my male family members have been called that. It’s almost like it’s a disrespectful word to call a man crazy but for a Woman, you a given a green light to use the word…
I was speaking to my father a couple of weeks ago and he mentioned that I was talking “crazy”, when I stated that someone whom was working over fifty hours a week in a job that they do not love, was a lifeless person and I refuse to live a life like that (which is something that he has done his whole life). My father answered back with the aforementioned “crazy” comment. It immediately silenced me, and I guess that was his way of intentionally shutting me up.
This took me back to my adolescent years where I had been told that I was crazy for so many years. “Oh, Iresha, you are talking crazy.” “Oh, Iresha, you are acting crazy”, “Oh Iresha, stop thinking crazy”. In my house, my craziness was always compared to my older Sisters’ supposed normalcy. Like the numerous times that I colored my hair purple or something other than my God given Black hair, or listening to White girls like Tori Amos and Alanis Morsiette, and denouncing Christianity at the young age of fourteen (after reading Malcolm X). Over time, I think my sisters and parents became embarrassed of me, and found me to be a bit too weird for their own taste. So instead of being ostracized from my family, I started assimilating slowly in high school…saying safe words, dressing like the rest of my peers and not questioning too much around me….
I tried hard to fit in with my small town country friends who spent most of their days watching videos on BET…this slowly led to a life of pretending…pretending like I was interested in rappers like Nelly and Trick Daddy when I wasn’t, pretending I was into boys all the time when I wasn’t, pretending that I read urban fiction when I didn’t, it even came to a point where I buried my James Baldwin and Maya Angelou books deep inside my purse, because my friends thought that spending leisure time reading something other than sex was “crazy”--a word that I was trying to wash off of me and of course, life became boring and unchallengeable for me.
College came about and as I was decolonizing my mind, and taking Women Studies classes (which I had became even more crazier-- but to a new group, my Pro-Black Nationalist friends) I read how bell hooks family used to call her crazy for having radical thoughts in her mind about dying without her mother or when she isolated herself from the world to read books. Hooks states that “I hear again and again that I am crazy, that I will end up in a mental institution. This is my punishment for wanting to finish reading before doing my work, for taking too long to walk down the stairs.”
I been pondering, how many little Black girls have had their creativity suppressed and their voices silenced by words like “crazy”, “silly”, “dumb” and “weird”?
Are they singing or are they silent?