Tired of White Noise

Image: Glen Ligon.

You go to the lecture theatre in your university, you sit down. And all you hear is the same voice, that you’ve have been hearing for the past three years of your life, the white voice. The masculine voice, the voice dominating the room.

You’ve heard it all before: “I was passionate and I made it, you can make it too.”

The heavy “I”s they use when you know in fact you and him have nothing in common.

I and You are never the same, you think to yourself, and at some point, you say it loudly:

And he’s shocked, and can’t believe you’d speak that way, to Him.

A Brown girl, how dare you?

You are fearless, and no pale male stale lecturer can understand that. You need to sit on this chair for another hour, but you can’t bare it?

There have been times like this before when my heart beats so fast and I feel like I can’t breathe, and no it’s not social anxiety but it is my bodies way of saying it has had enough. Enough of being talked at by white male academics and artists who have no idea what it would be like to live in my body for a day.

But they continue to speak AT you.

Do an experiment:

Close your eyes and Name 5 artist’s, name 5 activists, name 5 politicians.

Now , how many of them were white men?

It is highly likely that the majority of successful people we know of and might look up to are white men. This does not take away from their achievements, but where are all the people of colour? The women? The disadvantaged classes? All the people who have to work twice as hard alongside the white male students.

You look around you, and your classmates consist of few men, and you just know no matter what you achieve, their chances are higher than you.

This doesn’t mean you give up, this doesn’t mean you’re sad if anything this makes you more determined.

But do you really need to sit here, for two and a half hours, listening to a white cis heterosexual men, that you and 90 percent of people in your class have nothing in common with? A man who does acknowledge his privileges, but still talks over you when you’re making a point about diversity in the arts. No, you shouldn’t have to go through this, but you don’t leave, and the act of not leaving the lecture, is in itself resistance.

Words by Katy Jalili.