Do you ever feel like you’ve been fighting the good fight and then something occurs and you just lose it? Whether you’re a person of color or any ally, have you ever just saw something and thought, “What the F***?!”
Yeah, me too.
As a POC, I’ve had to navigate a world dominated by European culture. Meaning, I’ve read books and watched movies where there weren’t many, if any, reflections of me that were positive. Of course, there were stereotypes, tropes, and tokens. I’ve been discriminated against for housing, been called the N-word on several occasions, and even penalized at work for some of the same actions that my white peers do without repercussions. The legacy of different movements have all been to gain freedom, teach tolerance, and let everyone know that we are all humans.
Then you realize that the kum-ba-yah-we-shall-overcome moment didn’t last and nothing much has changed.
This scares me. This terrifies me because I have a daughter that will be heading off to college in a few years and learning to navigate this world for herself. This horrifies me because in some eyes she will not be the intellectual, fun-loving, articulate, nerdy girl, but a nigger. This hurts me because…because after all that we’ve been through as a people, some/many/(who knows the number) of folks may not be allies who’ll shut down the ignorance, but join in the laughter, joking, micro-aggressions, and even racism.
For instance…When Geris Hilton posted this photo as his profile pic on Facebook…
These are the only comments that I cared to screen shot. Disgust overtook me and I couldn’t go on. Each racist comment slashed my back like a whip. It more than saddened me. It hurt me deeply. Am I shocked? No. But I am surprised that no on- NO ONE- said, “Hey G, that’s wrong,” or “Hey, not cool, that’s someone’s child.” NO ONE held him accountable. EVERYONE joined in. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM.
These are people that we’re friends with, go to school with, joke around with, and even work with. Turns out, this sweet little boy was his co-worker’s son. Not some feral, homeless, Sambo-Toby-Kunta Kinte-black kid.
It hurts that people deny that racism, micro-aggression, and white privilege exists. It hurts that POC have to always be bombarded with these images and comments, yet be accused of playing the race card or being too sensitive. We’re attacked with “get over it” and are silenced. Just like the All Black Lives Matter movement, Civil Rights Movement and the Chicano Movement–any movement any where in the world–and we’re silenced by being told that all lives matter or that these issues just don’t exist. Yes, I’m hurting.
I know, I know…things will happen. Yeah, that’s what some folks said last week after the mass shooting, right? But listen, we all have to live in this world. Whatever your religious beliefs, I’m sure LOVE is the foundation of it.
And, I know, I know…I’ve lectured about this at Hamline, but until we start teaching tolerance and acceptance through children’s literature and TV and start to reflect a diverse world like we really live in, then people will only see differences. Differences that are easy to mock, judge, and taunt. We can’t celebrate our differences until we are taught to accept them. The more literature and TV (everything like mags and movies included) provides a single-story for us all, the more we learn to dislike and easily disrespect what isn’t like us. That is the danger in a single-story. (Ted Talk, click link, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
And maybe stuff like this won’t happen…as often. After her son, Emmet Till, was killed in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white women, Mamie Till said, “What happens to anyone of us any where in the world had better be the business of us all.”