A few nights ago I watched a video of black girls being harassed for riding their bikes into a white neighborhood (link). The fact that these white kids did not fear being video-recorded, while they verbally attacked these black girls says a lot. Real hate doesn’t fear being acknowledged. Seeing those little girls being called “Nigger”… it just made me sad. Afterwards I began to think about various random life experiences where I faced racism.
As a dark-skinned black male growing up in Louisiana, I’ve obviously seen and also personally experienced my fair share of racial injustices, prejudice, hate, and inequalities in my life. However, due to the loving environment of my upbringing I was taught to respond in love… and I never felt too much different or less than other people.
God allowed me to grow up around people who loved me… white and black. I never faced too much blatant hatred from school classmates or neighbors as a child. Honestly, as a teenager and young adult, my closest friends were white. They treated me better than friends of my own race. I was also raised during the Cosby Show era 😊 – I believe that sitcom allowed the nation to see the existence of intelligent successful black families outside of professional athletes, celebrities and preachers.
America loves to generalize someone’s life experiences by their race/gender. It’s just the way it is.
The question I used to ask myself is, “When did I first realize I was black?” I remember first understanding what it truly meant to be black when I moved to Iowa in my early twenties. Even I had to learn about my own identity. Knowing your history and who you are is so important.
I had to learn why people thought I was less than, and why my skin color mattered so much? What was it that really made someone like Michael Jackson, who was so loved by everyone, bleach his own skin, get plastic surgery, literally pay for white kids, just to feel better about himself and his legacy?? … and, don’t let anyone tell you he was crazy.
My life changed when I realized that people didn’t see me how I saw them.
I really echo the feelings of one of my close friends, when he stated,“Growing up I wasn’t black enough to fit in with blacks… and, I wasn’t white enough to fit in with whites.”
Finally… just one of my random memories of racism.
I’ll never forget a weekend I spent at my mom’s house (around 2005-2008). My mom lived in a nice suburban neighborhood that had very few black homeowners at the time. My brother drove in from Texas in his nice luxury car. He parked his car outside the garage one night. The next morning we walked outside, only to see the words, “get out of the neighborhood Niggers” hand-written in the dust residue on his rear window.
Acts of racism aren’t all the same. No one through a brick at my car. No one hit me with a bat. No one pointed a gun in my face. But, this type of racism was about creating fear.
Racism is not just a story of hate… it has many storylines, but it is also a story of betrayal.
I don’t have a problem with people who curse/hate me. I just have a problem with people who smile in my face, but scorn me behind my back. The most difficult wars to win are battles against unseen enemies.