In case you are interested in the follow up to my last post, I am posting the column that was accepted by my editor…which has spawned a conversation with my editor and a meeting for next week. I will keep you posted on whether or not, I will keep writing professionally since its really just a side thing I do since my real day is non-profit hack! By the way I have not responded to any of the comments on the last post but may do so in a separate post since I think the comments are interesting and actually speak to some of what happens with multiracial discussions take place.
Me, myself and race
I have been told by many different people at many different times that I put too much thought into race. That perhaps I overreact to things and see race as a factor when it might not be.
You should have met me years ago if you think that, because I really don’t obsess on race that much. To be honest, my White husband is far more likely to get into protracted battles of words online with people about race and White privilege than I ever would in any situation.
However, I do have a column called Diverse-City, race is still an important issue in this country, and I’m still Black. And a lot of people just won’t let me forget the color of my skin, because they still treat me differently than every white person around me. It doesn’t matter how many letters I have amassed after my name. It doesn’t matter what my job is. It doesn’t matter how law-abiding I am. What matters is that, like it or not, people assume things about Black people in general. This is not something that happens to White people.
Oh, I know that White people of various kinds can be judged on various things, like weight or gender. But as a race, White people don’t ever have to worry about most of the population looking at them and assuming that the color of their skin means they will behave in certain ways, like certain foods, enjoy certain music, be more prone to commit crimes, be more likely to have children they can’t afford, and so on.
Problem is, when I point out that I’m being treated in a certain way probably because of my race, I am often asked to prove it. My judgment is questioned. My experiences of an entire lifetime are discarded as irrelevant. My instincts are cast into doubt. Studies that show how Blacks are inequitably treated all the time are inadmissible. In other words, short of being able to bring in a team of researchers to study my life for a few years, nothing will prove to a naysayer that my feelings are on the money.
So, if I speak up, I must be prepared to get all sorts of alternate scenarios and reminders of how far our nation has come. All to invalidate my very real concerns and the evidence of my own experience.
If a parent takes a child away from a playground because someone seems a bit creepy, even if they haven’t gone near a single child in an improper fashion, that’s considered good parenting. I agree.
If a woman flees from a man she thinks might be dangerous, that is considered a wise and proactive move. I agree.
So why does no one else agree that I can claim racism when:
My Black son is harassed by police, multiple times, for merely walking down the street.
My White husband is asked during a traffic stop to explain who I am and why I’m in the car.
Five White people in front of me in line don’t get a second glance when they hand over a credit card, yet I am expected to provide one or two forms of ID, and the cashier looks them over intently for 10 seconds or longer.
I am asked to explain how all Black people feel about a certain issue.
I get my food long after several later-arriving White patrons already got theirs, and their food is nice and steamy while mine is room temperature.
I could go on, but the fact is that I let most of these things slide, and don’t want to dwell on them. It’s just that I occasionally get fresh reminders that are so hard to ignore.
Oh, like eminent Harvard professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr. being arrested this week for breaking into his own home, even though he had ID to prove he lived there. Because we all know that the nice police officer would have done that to a White homeowner. Yeah, right.