This a true story that I am about to share with you, one that I almost hesitate to share because I know some of my readers in my daily life but one that I think needs to be shared for all those who think that the election of Barack Obama has done away with racism in America. For all the talk of post racial America, I call bullshit loud and clear. No, racism is still woven into the very fabric of this nation and our culture and I have discovered the seeds of racism are still planted very young and will ensure that we still will grapple with this evil for at least another generation.
Up until a few months ago, I worked at a freelance grant-writer and consultant, a job that after a while was starting to wear on me. Too many of my clients looked to me as a miracle worker and in the current economic climate I started to realize a little job security might be a good thing. Which is why when the opportunity came up to become Executive Director of a center that serves poor and working class families in a neighboring community came up, I jumped at the position.
Now as a Black woman in Maine, I was a tad hesitant about how this might work since all the families we serve are white, however as a person who was raised poor and working class I can relate to these folks. Well, initially I thought things were going well and while the board (aka my bosses) probably feel they are going well, I am starting to realize that for some of our families my blackness is an issue.
Recently due to a staffing shortage, I have had to take over running of the after school program myself some days which means that I have a lot more contact with the kids and their families then either I or the board thought would be necessary. The only alternative was to be closed until I can bring on the necessary staff which for some our families would have had a devastating effect since our program is free and these are not cheap services. I will be the first to tell you that watching the kids myself is outside my comfort zone, I like kids, shit, I own a couple myself but watching someone else’s kids is a different situation then watching your own kids especially when you are watching 20+ at a time.
Well at first, it looked liked things were going good, several parents I spoke with last week were happy that I was there and that we were going to be open albeit for less hours while I resolve the staff shortage. However a kid told me something last week that cut to my core and honestly unnerved me initially….little boy A generally comes everyday with his cousin, little boy B. So I noticed that little boy B had not been coming, so I asked his cousin A where was B. Little boy A told me that his cousin B was not allowed to come if our site manager was not there.
Now I have lived 36 years as a Black woman in America so you know where my mind went but I didn’t push and just left it alone, though it was still in the back of my mind until yesterday. A couple days ago, I saw little boy B and his Mama outside the center, well the Mama looked in and saw me and then put boy B back in the car and drove off….and no the site manager wasn’t there so it was just me.
Again, I pushed the doubts aside but yesterday well they came out again, yesterday our site manager was in which meant I could go back to my job of running the agency instead of overseeing this program, but boy B told me something that knocked me off my axis. So both boys were in yesterday and I commented to little boy A that it must be nice that his cousin was there and he said to me in the presence of the site manager that Little Boy B again can’t come if I am just there because Little Boy B’s parents don’t like me. Mind you he said it in that childlike naïve way that kids repeat what they hear at home. The site manager asked why all the while turning beet red and the little boy just repeated his statement again and said because……and that was it.
Now some might say “Blackgirl, you are jumping to conclusions” Um, no….like I said earlier I have been Black 36 years and some shit you just know, you don’t need a map or a GPS system in this case to get to the conclusion. Mind you until recently little boy B always came up to me and issued me a big hug and was always talkative, this kid is a sweetheart, in fact a truly likable kid. I have noticed that now he stays away from me as if he has been instructed to stay away from the nigger.
See, this is how you raise a racist and start em young. I will be honest I went home last night almost thinking what the fuck am I doing here. However I prayed to forgive that family and at this point it’s between them and the man upstairs, anger is not an emotion I either need or want though there is still sadness to see that such a warm loving kid is being raised to hate early on. So while for my more educated and open minded country men and women of the paler hue racism may seem like a thing of the past, I tell you nope it is not.
10 thoughts on “How to raise a racist”
I agree with you guys…that is terrible, Sweetteach. 🙁 This world makes me so sad. It’s true about the link between racism and health. At 26 years old, I’ve developed hypertension. I believe that my experiences with discrimination have taken a toll on my health.
Shay (am I allowed to call you by your name?), my heart goes out to you. I know it is sometimes difficult being a Black woman in a nearly all-white state. I live in Florida, but I’ve experienced my share of stupidity here as well. My mother is a white Mainer who moved to Florida in the late 1970’s.
I’ve been hurt by ignorance and racism, too. Continue to walk tall. Be the beautiful, intelligent woman you are and don’t let anyone bring you down.
That little boy’s parents are hurting him…teaching him to stay away from you because you are black does HIM a disservice.
It struck me how pure and sweet he was, the way you described him. He would be playful and affectionate with you before his parents corrupted his mind. Racism is like poison.
sorry to hear that shay. These are the micro agressions of racism that wear away at our souls. My midwife recently told me that they found that black women have higher instances of high blood pressure regardless of class, location, level of education, etc and one of the theories is that it is the historic impacts of generations of racism that reveal themselves in our bodies.
Post racial america, heh. Right on the jersey side of the holland tunnel yesterday we stopped to pee and written on the bathroom door was “obama is a stinking evil muslim” or something to that disgusting effect. Post-whatevah!
LOL & AMEN at your years of experience as a black woman. Being a native-born African-American tends to give you a sixth sense about this shit.
I like Big Man’s attitude: If they’re going to let their racism keep them from free childcare, so be it. I feel bad for the kid but hopefully down the road somebody will take him in hand and let him know that (gasp) blacks are people too. White privilege is a trip, ain’t it?
Ironically, after almost 40 years of participating in the integration experiment (aka living my life outside of an all-black bubble, being Ambassador to the White Folks, etc.), and after electing a self-identified black man 😉 to the White House, I have never been less inclined to educate white folks than I am now. Obviously this makes life in a mostly white Iowa town fairly interesting…
What’s telling is that the site manager knew the reasons why as well. Oh, what those parents have planted in that little boy is a frightening. We may have come a long way, but oh, we have so much longer to go.
Mangobuttahqueen, girl I can relate to what you said. I have belonged to CSA’s for many years and I always love how I get the crazy black woman at farm look-does not compute. I can only imagine it must be worse when you are working in the Extension -Master Gardner programs.
I’m cool now since in the end for the families that feel this way, they are the losers. Childcare is costly and if they want to pull their kid because I am Black at the end of the day, that’s less work for me.
Man, don’t let those ignorant idiots get you down, and definitely don’t let them chase you from your job. Keep on keeping on. The family is only hurting themselves and their son with their racism. After all, their bigotry is causing them to miss out on FREE after school care.
Oh, there are plenty of people that are bitter that Obama is president. But whatever, they’re not even close to being as bitter as all the people that have had to choke on racism for feels like forever, some days.
This campaign brought me to the sad and infuriating realisation that 1) I’m waiting for an entire generation of certain people to die and 2) their poison is going to linger for a long time.
I refuse to let those people taint this moment though. Refuse. He’s not been in office for even one month yet and he’s not a miracle worker even though at times I thought it was going to take a miracle for him get elected.
Honestly though, I got a little choked up over your post and the knowledge that that child is being warped even as we breathe.
What upsets me is not that there are racists, but as the point you made, that the racists are training the young and innocents to be racists. That makes it difficult for me to contain. (Please say a few cuss words for me…) LOL!
It truly makes me shiver with fear when I hear all this talk of a post-racial America now. And indeed, it is so sad when adults inculcate in their children their own hatred and racism. Taking away innocence so early.
HA! I thought for the longest I was the only one that felt this way. I have been in similar situations with adults with children that were acting a fool.
I have been on county projects for the Master Gardener Program helping out agencies that serve the poor and disenfranchised. Like you I have been the only Black woman on these projects. I have been stared and glared at as if I was not supposed to be there and when I was teamed up with anyone they suddenly “disappeared” or acted as if they did not need my help.
These too are families that I’m talking about. It’s as if it is not possible to them to see that there are Black people who are on the giving end of the spectrum in a non-profit assistance program.
I can tell you that not much has changed since President Obama has taken office. It seems though that some people are even angrier that he is there.
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