Emotional Labour

‘It’s hard to be calm in a world made for whiteness. ‘ Austin Channing Brown

My last post, Black Fatigue, was written in a moment of anger, hence all the mistakes. Not mistakes in the argument or feelings but in the spellings and grammar. But I make no apologies. Sometimes it’s good for the soul, or good for me to let the anger out that I’m carrying around, moment to moment, daily.

It’s probably one of the rare occasions, I’ve allowed myself to vent as I have learned through years and experiences being an angry Black woman gets me nowhere. But the flip side, where has being an amicable and amenable Black woman got me? Probably well down the road of mental health issues and questionable wellbeing.

A week on, and I’m still sick and tired of the things playing out in my life as I move through this world in the body of a Black woman but still not recognised or treated as a fellow human being. I could even say that things have gotten worse as with time, more slights and ignorance and lack of awareness of their actions and inactions accumulate. Continue to accumulate as I get older but also as I attempt and fight to be met eye to eye with others as a human being deserving of living and striving within this world.

I oscillate between exhaustion and anger. Being depleted and fired up. And the worse thing of all is those that cause this suffering are oblivious to it. And even when I take the time and energy to point it out to them, how their actions are being unfair, unjust, unreasonable, and not seeing the situation in it’s totality they get on the defensive, do not engage with the issue, but deflect it away with comments like, ‘ I won’t engage with you when you’re being so aggressive.’

I stand by my post Black Fatigue. I just wish I’d mentioned emotional labour too. I can see now, as I reach 50 years old this year, that I have spent my lifetime trying to fit in. That means trying to be white. That is the only way to be let / given an inch in this game/ society/ life. I’m expected to be white because this is the cultural way of being. White people believe being white is right and good. Anything ‘other’ is wrong and should do everything right to become more white.

Now as I continue to question this standard, the way of operating in society, in the world, I’m going to become more and more angry and exhausted because I’m constantly being judged for being a Black female in a world made for whiteness. Everywhere I turn, in the street, on social media, on the TV, my self-esteem is being chipped away while living with the disparities in job opportunities, health care, education, and in the justice system. And I’m supposed to be happy and grateful when someone white talks about diversity and offers a crumb as if it’s taking a risk.
And then if I have the audacity to ask for more, there’s tears.

I’ve taken a break from social media as I was falling into the comparison spiral trap as well as putting pressure on myself to produce. But I see now what I was doing was performing. This is my pain and this is my joy. I was striving for the viewer, for you, to see me, treat me, like a fellow human being. It appears it’s the only dance I know. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to be white at the same time as trying to convince/explain/ argue that I’m worthy, that I’m a fully functioning and feeling human being who deserves to be here for your discarded crumb. Fuck that for a game of soldiers.

I’m taking back control and my power so I can control my rage. Not to protect others but myself. I’ve got to make sure now that my anger doesn’t destroy me. I’m putting in emotional labour with me, for me now.

2 thoughts on “Emotional Labour

  1. Sheree, friend and fellow human being, I had hoped this time of year would put a spring in your step to heal personal and domestic transitions you’ve had to face in the cold lonely months of lockdown. So I’m sorry to read how your anger, however righteous, has left you so emotionally exhausted. I want to apologise for not keeping in touch since we left the North East – not that it would have changed your present feelings about your life struggles; but a virtual hug can remind us that we’re loved, and missed – and I didn’t make the time to do that – though I’ve often thought of you. Only yesterday Dominic sent me a music video he likes, saying this is for you and Sheree. I’m not sure if this is the right platform to share. The gmail account I have for you was not available. Briefly our circumstances are that we are still abroad – since December- originally a two week visit; and so have not even stepped inside our new flat yet, which after all this time does not feel like our ‘home’. Our lengthy stay has in many ways been a blessing – meeting our new grandson and seeing him develop every day, and being with family. But getting Covid, a couple of falls, and the return travel uncertainties have not been.

    Wishing you well, Maggie xx

    On Sun, 2 May 2021 at 13:49, Sheree Angela Matthews wrote:

    > Sheree posted: ” ‘It’s hard to be calm in a world made for whiteness. ‘ > Austin Channing Brown My last post, Black Fatigue, was written in a moment > of anger, hence all the mistake. Not mistakes in the argument or feelings > but in the spellings and grammar. But I make no” >


    1. Hey Maggie, lovely to hear from you. Glad that you are keeping safe and well and with family. You have no reason to apologise. Never. You’ve always been there for me, when needed. We have our own lives and pressures but I’ve always have and always will class you as a dear friend. Hugging you right back. And hopefully we will meet again for good food and conversation and just vibe off of each other as we always do. Keep well x


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