BY SHASA SARTIN
The following piece is brought to you by the impassioned creations of Audre Lorde, Beyoncé, Kelis, Leikeli47, Megan Thee Stallion, Rico Nasty, and my mother.
Have you ever encountered some upsetting information and … started seeing red? Shortly after you hear a very loud screeching sound: it’s you screaming? Then you feel a serious surge of energy? A surge so strong that you have to do a core workout even though it is not the appropriate time of day for that—this experience usually reaches me long after business hours—and you’re fueled solely by your rage? Thirty minutes after completing that workout you’re still shaking and really warm and it’s not because of the burned energy: it’s because of the anger? The next day, you wake up still mad and stomp around campus with a nasty face on, hella mad blasting “Bossy” by Kelis and rolling your eyes at people who innocently smile in your direction (I’m sorry! You don’t deserve that!)? I get this angry. And yes, this six-step display of anger is dramatic; I am a born performer and the world is my stage. But this anger is not unwarranted by any means, for as Audre Lorde said, “I cannot hide my anger to spare you guilt.”
Anger is an unattractive emotion, despite its universal experience. Everyone gets mad and it’s because of a variety of reasons. Maybe someone didn’t email you back in the time frame you allotted to them. Maybe you got a C- on a group project because your group members are incompetent. Maybe you saw disturbing statistics about the frequency of women being murdered by their male partners. How else are people to respond to these things besides with anger? How should I feel when I read a tweet explaining that the gunman of the Nov. 20 Chicago Mercy Hospital shooting facilitated this attack because he couldn’t accept that Dr. Tamara O’Neal—one of the victims murdered in this shooting—broke up with him? Am I supposed to feel anything other than extreme sorrow, fear and fury? “Am I going to end up killed by an ex-partner like O’Neal? How am I supposed to protect myself from that?” I think to myself. And after that, I really don’t have any answers. I understand why my mother freaks out about any man I am involved with.
When I, a baby lover, read that Black women are 243% more likely to die from childbirth-related causes than white women, I suddenly wonder if pregnancy is worth it. Should I really get pregnant only to have any potential complications trivialized by my doctors because of the intersection of my sex and race? Is it worth it? I really love babies, and I’ve wanted a mini Shasa since I was still a mini Shasa. Do I say goodbye to that dream because I can’t trust medical professionals to believe and honor my pain? What feeling is appropriate to respond to that with? Reading that even some of the most successful and wealthy women in the world such as Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter and Serena Williams nearly lost their lives during their pregnancies makes the fear run even deeper. “Am I going to end up dead due to an easily treatable complication? How am I supposed to protect myself from that?” I don’t have any answers. I understand why my mother does thorough research on any and every physician I have ever seen or will see.
The hopelessness that accompanies my realization that I will truly be in danger for the remainder of my life because of my sex and my racial identity is very enraging. I already have qualms about being trapped in a flesh prison but damn! This specific flesh prison makes various types of people want to end me; through offensive means and through denying me care? That makes me furious. That makes my throat choke up and my eyes well, and I really hate crying!
This is a really long-winded way of saying that anger is a valid emotion and should be treated as such. I am allowed to feel incredibly angry as often as I want. And some reasons are more dire than others, clearly. Some days I am seeing red just because my Instagram post didn’t get as many likes as I hoped it would. Regardless, I will stay mad as long as I need to so I can process the feelings and none of you can stop me.
PHOTO CAPTION: Shasa Sartin is editor-in-chief of Chips, the Luther College student newspaper.