WGMFU: Imma Let You Finish

By NIA ROBINSON, Opinion Editor

Men — white men specifically — seem to have this obsession with interrupting me. Over the course of one conversation, it regularly happens five times or more. Throw more white men in the mix and the amount of times they cut me off is multiplied. Rarely do they apologize or realize their rudeness. Even when I call it out, they continue to interrupt me, as though what they have to say is more important.

My favorite instances are when I am speaking and they touch my shoulder, signaling me to stop for them to speak.

On one hand, don’t touch me. On another, I have shown enough times that I know what I’m doing. It’s unnecessary and, unless the building is burning down, I can think of few instances where signaling me to stop adds anything to the conversation.

Sometimes, they say what I was going to say, then ask me to continue once they’re done. Other times, they interrupt me to call out my lack of nuance or failure to touch on more ideas. Maybe if I had not been interrupted, their criticisms would be unnecessary.

When white men do apologize, it’s mediocre at best. They say, “Sorry, Nia. Continue,” as they pat my back like we’re friends. If they were really sorry, they would have let me finish.

I acknowledge I talk too much sometimes. Maybe the reason white men interrupt me is they don’t know how to listen. If I had every platform available, I would be a bad listener too.

If you’re reading this and realize you’ve done this to me or any other black woman, I am talking to you. If you’re reading this and do not think you’ve done this, you probably have. For those who feel like they haven’t, think about your friends and teammates.

Before someone makes it seem like I’m making this an issue only black women face, it is important to acknowledge that this has happened with white woman too. Actually, I can’t think of any group that it hasn’t happened with. This also makes me recognize that there is a difference between condescension or dismissal and a miscalculation of when someone believes the other person is finished speaking.

Perhaps we need to learn how to have a conversation before we learn how to have intense dialogue. Listening is great, but we also need to learn to value what we’re hearing. My writing this is not a suggestion that I am perfect. It’s me asserting that I deserve the same amount of respect I see other people receiving.

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WGMFU: Imma Let You Finish