Racism and Me
I’m a traveler at heart. Since birth, I have moved all over the United States and have had the privilege of calling other countries home. As a result, I wasn’t actually called a “nigger” till I was about fourteen. Yes, I knew of my ancestor’s past. But I grew up with so much culture in my life, learning how to speak Japanese and Spanish, having a crush on my Puerto Rican teacher who ironically taught English; skin color wasn’t a distinction of separation to me. So the term threw me off because the man who addressed me as such had thrown a rock at me while I was outside mowing the lawn, and I could tell he had great hate for me in his eyes. It kind of sucked for both of us since I was his next door neighbor for like, six years. I lived in Anniston, Alabama at the time, and the racism I experienced was everywhere. And it wasn’t just black-on-white. It was more so, black-on-black. People who shared the same skin color as me said ridiculing undertones attempting to get under my skin.
You don’t wear Jordans?
Why did you ask that white girl out?
You talk like a white boy.
You play acoustic guitar? That’s a white person instrument.
I’m a psychological thinking person, so I know people have a reason for doing everything, so trivial name-calling was irrelevant to me, but it did intrigue me. I knew more or less why people were racist, but the attempts for removing racism seemed pretty futile to me. Take for instant, I believe bragging and boasting is pretty rude, so why do most black people I meet use Black History Month and Barak Obama as a weapon to defend themselves, rubbing it in other race’s faces as a ridiculous attempt for payback for generations of struggling they didn’t even live through? There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your heritage, but most of them hardly knew anything about the people who fought for them in the first place. And I’m pretty sure Martin Luther King Jr. and the rest of the martyrs of our past didn’t die for a month of recognition that we happily accepted from the government so we could stick our chest out in flamboyant arrogance. That’s what I was thinking at my school desk in eighth grade. I was friends with a Colombian girl, three white guys, a Korean guy and I had a young lady who was Japanese as a friend, who incidentally was killed back in 2010 by the hands of a white man. So if anyone should be angry, it should be me; but anger is simply the wood underneath the fire of ignorance.
And now, I’m twenty, single, living in beautiful Chattanooga, Tennessee, just graduated college with a music education degree. My synopsis of my daily experience with racism is this: if you really want to combat racism, learn about other cultures other than your own. Realize that the people on the other side of the world have lives outside of your television screen on National Geographic. But never, ever forget where you came from. Don’t throw it by the wayside once February is over. Carry it with you daily, but don’t let it hinder you from learning and adapting to this ever changing world we live in.
Realest. Shit. Ever.