What the Hell is the “Black Experience(BE)?”

black experience

Too bad white people don’t do the same for black people!

What the Hell is the “Black Experience(BE)?”

Have you ever been a part of a conversation physically, but not socially? Everyone makes eye contact with each other except you. They are all planning some other event, and you are not invited! Without knowing it, you are invisible and irrelevant to them.

These nuanced encounters happen every day to black children and adults everywhere. Still, I think it is all in my head, but repeated experiences nag incessantly, telling me it is not in my head! Yes, I know this happens to other cultural groups, but does that negate its profound and pervasive effects on the minds and attitudes of black people? Additionally, there are very significant historical differences.

These nuanced non-verbals indicate white people’s discomfort with black people and black issues to the point they can’t even look into your eyes while in serious conversation. Nevertheless, they want diversity or a little color. Make no mistake; you or your ideas are not of interest or importance to them unless you can find champion in their culture.

Such was my experience at a recent meeting. In the past, this would ruin the night, but not this time. The people who refused to look me in the eyes were also the leaders and, deceitfully, the most passionate advocates for disenfranchised people/communities.

Then there was the “Aha” moment! I realized, “This is the problem!” These are the same people who sustain a system grounded in social conformity, with its injustices, inequities, and lack of access for minority groups. They wear facades of advocacy—intentionally or not—while perpetuating a system whose intricately woven threads of discrimination, fear, and hate form the fabric of our society.

What kind of help can these kinds of advocates offer poor, uneducated black people, or other minorities?

Maybe it’s time we talk about race. Yeah, sure we are all equal.

back exp 2

I am tired of seeing the world through the lens of a culture that is not my own.


Author: Angela Grant

Angela Grant is a medical doctor. For 22 years, she practiced emergency medicine and internal medicine. She studied for one year at Harvard T. H Chan School Of Public Health. She writes about culture, race, and health.

10 thoughts on “What the Hell is the “Black Experience(BE)?”

  1. Hey Angela,
    I’m just curious, what kind of a meeting was it? Workplace, public policy, etc? You make a great point, I’m just wondering what the setting of this particular instance was.

  2. Kenny , your question made me realize this happens at volunteer meetings, academic meetings, public health and physician meetings, even social events. My children have even noticed the same lack of eye contact with the intent to exclude among social gatherings with friends.

    Can I ask, what did you find interesting?

    1. I live in Oregon, and despite the fact that my city likes to see itself as progressive, we have a very white, fairly non-diverse population. With that in mind, I’ve noticed the lack of eye contact you’re referring to in corporate settings. I don’t think there’s any malicious intent, but as you pointed out, I think it’s just a general discomfort based in “How do I act around a black person?” And the avoiding eye contact is a side effect of that insecurity.

      Quite frankly, I don’t think most white people know they’re avoiding eye contact. But I applaud you for calling it out. I’m white, and I’ve certainly seen exactly what you’re referring to. It makes me hope that I haven’t unconsciously done so myself.

      Very thought provoking post, well done.

      1. Kenny, thank you for offering another perspective, another lens through which to view the lack of eye contact.

        Though, I think because it does not occur often to you and you are priveleged, it may seeem innocent. But trust me when I say it is intentional more often than not in my case. Usually people will catch themselves and start making eye contact if there is no malice. There are those, who continue to ignore you in hopes of squashing your existence, that are offensive.

        I appreciate your comments and next time it happens I will think about what you said, thank you.

  3. This is a little off-topic (maybe) but to me something that is irritating and not very constructive is whenever a white person feels the need after every criticism of white supremacy to say, “well, not ALL white ppl are like that.” Or “such and such is white and he/she is not like that.” I think of it more of on the Lines of.. If you dont feel like the critique of white supremacy is describing something you partake in, why then does one feel the need to say “well we’re not all like that.” That just sounds kind of selfish because discussing issues of systematic racial discrimination should not revolve around how white ppl feel. Anyways, sorry about the rant. (-; can’t wait to hear from ya,

    1. Caleb, that is another ploy to minimize a black person’s concerns, a black person’s feelings of being threatened and a black person’s humiliation. There are white people who have not an ounce of humanity in their blood—for example, our military police, owners of private prisons and corrupt judges– all complicit in many crimes against people of color amounting to genocide.

      The so-called hypocrites of trust do not even bother to use precautions to minimize damages to the community because they do not give a shit about communities of color.

      Here I do ranting again. This is off topic but what disturbs is the thought that Law Enforcement consists of significant numbers of child molesters. When the NYPD strip searches teenagers in PUBLIC (on the streets of their neighborhoods), fondle children’s genitals, find nothing and then take kids back to the precinct only to strip them naked to perform poses…one has to wonder about MOTIVE!

      How many copies were of those pictures? Could the NYPD and other police departments also support child pornography? Child pornography is a multi-billion-trillion dollar industry. Extra money and the beginning of organized crime similiar to Elm Guest House in UK with the pedophile ring.

      1. You touched on something very important. They often do not even see the ppl they arrest as people but as objects to be fondled and humiliated. That’s what so many of these strip searches are about. To instill a sense of otherness while the police pigs get to feel like they’re worth something when they really aren’t shit.

        1. Caleb, another important point is these abusive police officers’ actions further dehumanize those humiliated who are then forced to obey and be silent while they are molested. How does one move on from such experiences? Personally I don’t think I could. .

          1. Exactly. I can never know for certain how it must feel, but I can only imagine that I would form a sense of powerlessness and possibly even a desire for reprisal considering the absolute impunity these officers are given.

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