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12.10.2009

Things We Don't Apologize For: Demanding Respect

Yesterday: Never apologize for dating outside your race. Just because you found Mr. Right across the color line doesn't mean you don't love your brothas.
Today: Never apologize for demanding respect. You are to always be treated as a queen.

I struggled to write this one. I had no motivation on this. I think it's because this is too basic to need explication.

I wrote a guest post for another blog (it has yet to be featured, but I'll let you guys know when it does) where I took issue with the free-use of euphemisms for black teens that reduces them to "urchins" and animals; creatures, really. It's disgusting the way humans will refer to one another sometimes as if it's ok. We all (well most of us -- that woman who sold her daughter in N.C. doesn't count, for example) deserve to be treated as humans. We deserve that basic respect.

We should expect anyone we come into contact with to treat us with basic respect. Looking us in the eye, listening to what we have to say, acknowledging our presence, etc...

The simple way to avoid apologizing for demanding respect is to accept nothing less. You don't have to be crude or crass about it, but when people know what you expect, they will often rise to the occasion. I'm reminded of a dr visit I had a few years ago. I had an embarassing and very painful problem that I was being told over and over again could only be cured with surgery. I have this irrational fear of surgery and so when the dr began talking about it, I got emotional. My mother ended up having to come into the room and it all went downhill from there.

She began asking questions that he had already answered but she had not been in the room for. I think he thought she was accusing him of making me cry and his tone went from moderately condescending to downright rude. I was so worked up about the thought of surgery that I acted out of character and listened to him damn-near belittle my mother because she was confused. Had I been thinking straight, I probably would've punched him in the face. Thinking about it now gets me incensed. You don't talk to me like that, and you definitely don't talk to my mother that way. I do remember getting up from the table, though, and grabbing my mom by the hand while he was mid-sentence. I couldn't kick him like I wanted to, but I could walk out. We paid the co-pay and refused to answer their calls for a follow-up.

How you treat others and treat yourself is what shows how you expect to be treated. I also try to treat people with respect until they give me every reason not to and if it comes to that, no words need to be exchanged, I just need to go. I'm reminded of a conversation I had with a friend where we were talking about people who get in your face during an argument. "If we're that close, we don't need to be exchanging words; you obviously wanna go for blows..." she said. If you're so disrespectful that I can't respect you back, well we don't need to talk; you obviously don't want my respect.

Don't apologize for demanding respect, as long as you're giving it (within reason) to others and yourself.

Tomorrow: Never apologize for not knowing how to cook. Even if you can't burn like Grandma you know how to order good take out.

1 comment:

Dash said...

OH! I am taking a screen-shot of this entry, laminating it, adding strobe lights around it and posting it on the forehead of every woman on this planet. This is a GIVEN, but sadly some women do not make it a requirement. Breaks my heart. But yes respect is a given. I don't respond to insolence. It's not in my nature and I can't entertain it. People will treat you how you ALLOW them to.

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