Yesterday I read a post by a good friend of mine. A good man father of two husband to one a law abiding, tax paying, highly educated black man. While picking up his children he was belittled as a white woman yelled at him calling him a Nigger, telling him to get out of her neighborhood. I felt his pain and confusion as he tried to navigate his rage while still holding the responsibility of responding as a Christian man in front of his girls.
What befuddles me about this, is the question, why all the anger? Why all the hatred? Why would a grown woman find it to to be socially acceptable to belittle a man who has done nothing to her in front of his children.
Hot on the trail of Beyonce’s Politically charged video “Formation” along with an equally symbolic Supper Bowl performance all of a sudden my social media is a vortex of erupting old wounds, bearing new ones and two side who don’t seem to get each other. I have no answer to the issue at hand. I have only bewilderment, only questions, only a lack of understanding.
So in light of it all I figured what they hey I should share my story. I am black. Born to a light skinned mom and a darker skinned father. I grew up with brothers and sisters who were all lighter than I with green eyes. I knew I was different.
I attended a school that was culturally mixed but majority white. I saw the popular girls. In particular there was one she had crystal blue eyes and straight blond hair. She was beautiful and I wanted to be like her.
When I was in the 4th grade I rushed to perm my hair so it could be more straight just like her. No one ever told me my hair needed to be straight but I just knew it deep down that is what it supposed to be.
My parents are well educated and I grew up in a middle class home. We speak properly and I was told that I talked “white” by my peers.
When my mother had her first child she named him Michael David. At our neighborhood pool a white woman told her that, that was a white name.
I was a proud member of the girl scouts in a majority white troupe. We had a lot of fun together. When the girls asked me where I lived they told me that my neighborhood was dangerous. The same neighborhood where I road my bike and walked my dog and knew my neighbors and was never threaten, I learned was a dangerous place.
I transitioned to a majority black middle school where I quickly took to the task of redefining myself. I think this is where I first learned that I could have two sides to who I am. I wanted to talk black, I wanted to dress black I wanted to be accepted.
When I came home I was told that my diction had worsened due to my school.
I played soccer the majority of my life. I love the game and I was good at it. One year I played for a majority white team and it was fun. During one intense defensive exchange with another player from a different team, the girl called me a monkey. I was rightfully upset but when I shared this with my teammates they said I was making something out of nothing.
On a family trip we begged the truck drivers to honk their horns for us as many children do. Instead of a honk the drivers held up middle fingers. I watched the man’s snarling face. He was so pleased with himself. Giving the F U sign to a kids seemed like the highlight of his day.
In college I was spat at. In college I was called a nigger. In college there were no repercussions for those who did these things. I was disillusioned.
I hung out with a white guy from my dorm. He wasn’t my first white boyfriend but he would hang out with me in private but when we crossed paths on campus he wouldn’t speak.
One time while in the car with my dad he got stopped for a routine traffic stop but they asked him to step out of the car. They then seated him in the back seat of the cop car to run his plates. I sat anxiously awaiting and praying.
I was in TJ max one day and the sweetest little girl came up to me and called me a Nigger. Her mother apologized profusely. I knew that she learned this from the very person who apologized to me.
We vacationed in Hilton Head. I was told by a white friend of mine that what looked like racism was really classism. It was a pretty silly idea to begin with that the two are not intrinsically tied together but I humored his argument. But Hilton Head is known as a vacation hot spot for the elite. Here we were among them. My dad dropped us off at a public swimming pool near our own villa, me and my two sisters. When our hands touched the gate people got quiet. We were children. A man on the balcony called security. Apparently there was a pool designated for our cluster of villas. A reasonable thing but we were carted off. I couldn’t help but feel the disgrace.
Here I sit now. Watching some police officers act without accountability. Watching judges dismiss cases without having to give a rationale. Watching a lack of due process applied to even a criminal who has basic rights under the law. Watching a child with candy in his hand and nothing else killed. Watching others call him a thug and digging up how many detentions he attended to defame his character. Watching a man being shot and left in the street like a dog. Watching a 12 year old boy shot in the park, watching a young man shot and killed at the gas station for playing his music too loud. Watching the disparity of unfair sentencing. Watching my friends family and neighbors telling me that everything is ok. That there is nothing to be concerned about. That racial tension is dead. Watching the republican candidates address a question about police brutality not by suggesting higher accountability for those who abuse their powers but taking the time to applaud the police with no mention of change. (Don’t get me wrong honest law enforcers should be praised) All I am doing is watching. All I am doing is waiting. Everything disillusioned…. I can’t understand why you can’t see the problem.