Not My Monkey, Not My Circus

A recent New York Times article, “F.I.T. Model Refuses to Wear “Clearly Racist Accessories,” triggered a discussion within my tribe. Most were outraged over the overt visual accessories used in the fashion show using oversized red lips and humongous monkey ears. It was noted that a black model in the show expressed concern over the imagery, as it appeared racist, making her feel extremely uncomfortable in its derogatory portrayal and historical association with black people. Throughout history, racists around the globe have chosen to characterize blacks of African decent as monkeys and used this connection to degrade and mock individuals representing this heritage. I could clearly understand the reason for the recent outrage since the visual image resembled the long list of historical and more current condescending insults and depictions.

I also had another more unexpected visceral reaction to the article. I personally felt no deep anger or hurt over the imagery even though I know the historical usage and hurtful intention. In the words of the great Noiramo, “I feel no ways about it.” Why, you may ask? Spiritual leaders and others have taught that each of us can determine when to be offended. In this case, I was not offended because I know who I am and what I am not. The monkey image does not resonate for me but it does say something about the people who choose to, consciously or unconsciously, reference this image to try to injure and degrade an entire race of people. The individuals who use this image to attack have some “splainin” to do in terms of understanding their own psychosis. Clearly something has been said but this is not my problem nor is it the problem of the people being called or affiliated with the monkey imagery.

Perhaps if the individuals being insulted could not get triggered (remove the inner hurt, anger or shame that has been unconsciously internalized), this issue might go away. Weird thing to say so let me explain. Bullies like to attack where you are the weakest, most vulnerable and to cause a reaction. No one can insult you if the problem is not yours, there is no internal wounding being triggered, or if you do not identify with the insult. When a toxic person can no longer control you, they will try to control how others see you. This misinformation will feel unfair, but stay above it, trusting that other people will eventually see the truth – – and you already know the truth. Everyone must still call out the ridiculous association as being wrong, but please leave the insult and shame on the doorstep where it truly belongs. Remember the old polish saying “Not my Monkey, Not My Circus.”

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