And then I realized what had just occurred. I had just stumbled into becoming the most dreaded stereotype of all, the Angry Black Person.
It took me several days of reflection (ie obsessively repeating the conversation over and over in my head) to realize why my friend responded the way he did. I realized he has no idea why I got so angry! In his mind, what we were discussing was understandably frustrating but he can’t connect to my level of frustration over the topic. And truthfully, sometimes the level of hurt I feel surprises me as well.
So today I’m going to explain the Angry Black Person phenomenon the only way I know how to, scientifically of course. Presenting…*drum roll*…
The Black Allergic Reaction to Racism (BARR) Response
If you treat racism, bigotry, or any discrimination as an allergen, then the BARR response becomes very obvious.
Most of the time the allergen isn’t an obvious threat. After all, a peanut doesn’t look as dangerous as a lion chasing after you. Yet to many, a peanut spells certain death while they might just have a slim chance with the lion. Well it’s the same thing with discrimination! ... it’s not your life that’s threatened, it’s your sense of hope. And you become vigilant in safeguarding it.
We often think “Was that comment really necessary?”, “Please be thoughtful with your words before exposing us to them. Thanks.” and “If you’re not 100% certain, please refrain. This is my life you’re playing with.”
The BARR response to discrimination is as varied as allergic responses. Just like with allergies, some people grow out of them and don’t suffer from them any more. While other allergies, no matter what you do, only get worse with each exposure.
So folks, even though anger, frustration, irritation, etc is not an emotion that’s pleasant to be around. Before judging, ask yourself “What did this person experience to illicit this response?” Because, excluding the hot heads, most people exhibiting the BARR response have been exposed to more than they should.