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Sage Self-Care Advice from a Black Woman:

‘Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz:’ Calling Out the Deformation of ‘Merit’

“‘Know-your-place’ aggression is a continuing American tradition, so I always strive to equip marginalized communities to withstand the hostility that never fails to accompany their victories… I vow to continue to make a priority of

1. identifying know-your-place aggression and:

2. highlighting how often white mediocrity is treated as merit. Violence is done whenever there is know-your-place aggression, no matter how subtle, and whenever whiteness is treated as if it always signifies merit.” Koritha Mitchell

“If Juanita or Fatima has a job, even one that others don’t want, she can be considered a threat. Her success at simply securing a position inspires aggression. What makes this possible? The fact that she isn’t considered white.” Koritha Mitchell

“When I look around my campus and the profession more generally and ask myself, “Would that person even be here if they weren’t white?,” I most often find myself answering, ‘Nope!’” Koritha Mitchell

“American culture must manufacture merit for white people because whites are considered good without reference to actual standards. If Americans asked whether an individual contributes to a societal good, then they would have to admit that many white people don’t measure up and don’t even try, because they are not expected to.” Koritha Mitchell

“[N]oticing white mediocrity is a form of self-care…Because American culture has never encouraged white people to hold themselves and each other to higher standards, merit is manufactured for them all, and innocence is manufactured for white people who don’t even have the decency to be mediocre.”

She/Her: Distort lies until they amplify truth. CryBaby: As loud as necessary.

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