Racism.

18 Mar

I’ve been writing the same blog for the last couple of days now. I’d start and stop. Write and erase. It wasn’t sitting right with me. I’d close my computer and promise myself I’d revisit it in a couple hours or the next day. I’d come back to it. Read it, re-read it followed by long lapses of silence and staring at my computer screen. No matter what I wrote and what I said it still didn’t feel right. Eventually, I realized that I couldn’t write it because I too have a hard time understanding “it”. Though I write in depth about emotion, 99% of what I write is rooted in logic. I write what about how I feel about what I think and understand. Without the understanding it’s hard for me to really capture it in words.

The “it” that I don’t understand is Racism.

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I remember years ago when a friend of mine was going to a job interview. At the time she was wearing her hair in braids similar to how Janet Jackson did in poetic justice. A family member had suggested she remove her braids as to not “turn off” the potential employer. I was outraged. I remember asking my mother why isn’t it okay for her to wear braids to her interview.  She shouldn’t have to look “less black” to get a job. This made no sense to my young mind and my very naive heart. My mother had seen to it that I was raised in an environment that was as diverse as possible growing up. I grew up in Hyde Park a few blocks from Obama’s Chicago home and spent a year in boarding school which was like an United Colors of Benetton advertisement. So when my friend shared her dilemma with me, my color blind 17 year old self didn’t understand it.

“Why should she have to take her braids down?” I asked angrily. “Because she’s black”. I cried out of confusion and probably at the loss of some of my innocence. No matter what my mother told me, no matter how hard she tried to help me understand I just couldn’t mentally conceptualize why people would judge someone just because they were black. Or different. And years later, honestly, it’s still rather confusing to me.

It was still confusing to me last week. When I heard about a basketball team of young African-American males visiting a predominately white town to play a high profile game. It was confusing when I heard that the team, their coaches and their family members were the only African-Americans attending said game. It was confusing when I heard the referee, who was not African-American, was making calls so biased and unfair that another official eventually stopped the game and told the referee with the coaches from both teams to “clean it up”. It was confusing that the African American team was being harassed and verbally assaulted during the entire game by the opposing team AND crowd eventually causing them to lose their focus and emotional stamina. It was confusing when even after the game, as both teams lined up to shake hands in a last attempt at sportsmanship, the African American team was horrified to discover the other teams had spat in their hands as a final act of complete and under disgust and disdain. It was confusing when the team, the coach and his pregnant wife and child had to be escorted from the stadium by the police because the harassment became so blatant that they feared for their safety.

And if that didn’t confuse me enough. If I wasn’t incensed enough. Then surely reading from what I thought was a reputable new paper (who should be capable of investigative reporting) yet reported none of this sent me straight over the edge. This paper went only as far as saying that the conduct displayed by both teams was “unsportsmanlike”. Really? Apparently the coaches decision to not return to get his trophy was unacceptable but his team, his wife and their families being referred to as “niggers” by an all white crowd is okay. Even more disturbing was some of my fellow Facebookers commentary about how they should have been the bigger persons because this is “expected” in sports.

*blank fucking stare”

Let me tell you this. The fact that that game even went on past the second quarter still amazes me. I totally understand that those kids have worked their asses off to get to that point. I get that basketball is probably some of those kids only way to college via sports scholarships. I get that one game should not determine an entire season. HOWEVER, the same me that is confused how racism continues to exist has no humanly understanding as to HOW you are supposed to and WHY you are supposed to “ignore it”. Be the bigger person? Come back and get the trophy? How about this…if my team won’t be respected during the game, we wont finish the game. In the end, it’s bigger than sports. What does it teach our youth when we tell them not only to expect racism but to accept it.

I have a son and we do talk often about some of the things that he may encounter when he gets older. It pisses me off to the highest point of pisstivity that I even HAVE to talk to him about being black in America but I do. And while being a woman means I have less experience than my male counterparts in this matter all I have to do is turn to my brother or any of my male acquaintances. There are so many examples of both overt and covert racism that I don’t even have to experience it for myself to know it exists. They refer to it as “Walking While Black”, “Driving While Black” and “Breathing While Black”. We laugh at it sometimes but only because we don’t even know what else to do.

I’m nervous for my son. Not because of who he is or what he does. But because the of land of the free and home of the brave, the place where he’s lived his entire life considers him a threat and less than because of the color of his skin. Now that’s not free at all is it. And it’s not a black thing, or a white thing, or a latino thing. It’s a people thing. And if we don’t do something to resolve it  we’ll all (everyone of us) be a bunch of free slaves, emotionally imprisoned but physically free.

Still hoping,

The Mistress of All Things Fabulous

PS. I pulled the followed passage from another friends FB page just seconds ago. Just to illustrate that no, this is NOT an isolated incident:

I was on my way to work today. I usually take the train at 36th St in Brooklyn. When I go downstairs to catch the train I notice the train is being held in the station. There were about 40 teenagers on the platform and on the train (it was a half day) I look down the platform and there are police officers. I get on the train and wait. And I realize the police are literally pulling all the black and latino male teenagers off the train and placing them against the train to frisk them. Supposedly they had caused a disturbance….I know there alot going with the NYPD in Brooklyn. But harassing the children of the community u supposedly serve.. u should be ashamed of yourself. Grown men with guns and batons pulling 16 year olds off a train for no reason. I hear these kids say things like ” Nah not me Im getting off, they clap n*gg** now.” People who still turn a blind eye to racism just to act like it is no longer an issue is because they don’t deal with it on a day to day basis.
Their kids will never be harassed for hanging out in a group with their friends. This isn’t a discussion you can either agree or not and frankly I don’t care. The kids I saw being pulled out and frisked on the platform had done nothing wrong and growing up I have had countless incidents like this.

 

 

 

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One Response to “Racism.”

  1. nualapthatsme March 23, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

    very well written

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