Tag: racism

Just Across the Tracks

I keep hearing the phrase “colorblind.” People are saying, I don’t see color, I just see who the person is, it doesn’t matter what they look like, “I’m colorblind.” I’ve been trying to come up with a way to clearly articulate WHY it is not OK to be color blind. I will go ahead and say, I haven’t figured out how to explain this to anyone in a way that I feel accurately conveys why we should not be colorblind. I will say this though, the Lord created us to be different, He did not create us to look the same, but regardless of how each of us look we should love the same and accept each other. The problem we have faced and continue to face is there are a large number of people who choose not to accept their brothers and sisters solely based on how they look. We do not live in a world that allows us to be colorblind.

I think my personal experience with race and race relations is different from many people; however, just because I was raised with a different experience or point of view does not make me exempt or blind to the the injustices that people or color are facing daily. Anyone who knows me knows that I was born in Scottsboro, AL and if I am honest, our town was not as integrated as it should have been in the 80s. It was very clear that black and white people were separate. The train tracks told us so. We lived separately, we worshiped separately on Sundays, but we all came together Monday -Friday for work and school. (I recently read online that the most segregated hour of the week is Sunday at 11am, I will let that marinate with you all for a bit). Our grandmothers, aunts, and cousins that were from the generation above our parents were “The Help,” I’m sure you have all seen the movie, so I won’t go into detail, BUT if you were born on the “other” side of the tracks in Scottsboro (or insert the the name of your small town) then you know what I’m talking about. My grandmother, my Nana, was an educator and very well known in Scottsboro. She was also one of the only black teachers in town, and because of this my mother, and by default my sisters and I had a different relationship with race in our small town. My mother was forced to integrate before many of her friends and she quickly had to learn to trust and depend on the white classmates that were bold enough interact with her and become friends with her. These people, to this day, are dear to her heart because they, along with their parents, went out of their way to protect my mother in a time when black people, especially students, faced extreme racism.

In our house, we did not specifically talk about race in the manner in which we talked about being different or having to be more careful based on our skin color. Whenever Granddaddy would talk about the hardships of being a black person, my Nana would remind him, and us, that we lived in different times and he needed to let go of the past. I did not really recognize myself as different until I got older and went to school. I started to see how the black students would stick together in group settings. Of course we all were friends and interacted with each other, black and white, but we all recognized we were different because the bell would ring and we (the black students) would get on one of the two school buses that went across the tracks to take us to our respected homes. Back then, and maybe even now, the only white people who lived on “our side” of the tracks were those that were in interracial relationships, or white people who did not have the financial means to live on the other side of the tracks. My mom says it is because the black community accepted them when their own people would not.

So, once again I question, HOW can we be colorblind when we are born with a line in the sand with writing on each side WHITE/BLACK.

Even in the 90s, I had friends that were white and it was OK for us to be friends, their parents had no problem with that, but they were forbidden from dating anyone black. This was in the 90s, we were supposed to be equals. Civil Rights had happened 30 years prior. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s dream was supposed to be a reality, but any little town in the south proved different. (I can’t speak for the North). We could go to school together, we could play together, but we couldn’t date each other. I was 15 years old when I had probably one of the biggest cultural shocks of my life. We moved to El Paso and into a neighborhood direct where our direct neighbors were white. I remember asking my mom about it. “You mean to tell me, black people and white people can live next door to each other?” This was 1998.

Never in my life was I told that we were any different than the white people in the world, but living life in a small southern town SHOWED me that I was different. I was not taught to fear the police, as a matter of fact, I grew up with a man across the street that was probably my idol, Mr. Mike Ellison, and he was a police officer. I would request for him to turn on his lights and sirens as he drove off to work as a small girl and watch proudly as he drove away. My cousin is currently on the Dallas PD. We did not have a negative relationship with law enforcement. However, LIFE has forced me to be aware of the police. I am almost 100% certain that I was in college when my mom and step dad told us that we need to be careful if/when we are pulled over by the police. That we need to keep our hands visible and do everything that is ask of us.

I want to believe that we live in a different world than our parents, but it is becoming painfully obvious that we are still fighting the same fight. We’re all aware of WHAT needs to change. We know WHY it needs to change, but we are not fully to the HOW it is going to happen.

Until little black kids don’t have to get on a school bus with people that ONLY look like them and take trips back and forth across a railroad track that shows them they are different, we won’t see a change. People shouldn’t have to wait until they are grown to know that the color of your skin does not determine who you’re neighbor can be. We have taken strides forward in this fight for equality, but we still have a long way to go, and until then we can not afford to be “colorblind” because if you fail to see my color then you fail to see me.

The Cry of the Broken

I have been going back and forth for the better part of a week on what I wanted to say AND if I even wanted to say anything about the tragedies that are being played out in the world right now. My heart is completely broken from the losses that have taken place over the past three months when it comes to people of color. It is not something that is new, it is not the first time that something like this has happened, and it is no different than what has been happening behind “closed doors” for years and years; it’s just this time, it hit my spirit just a little different. Since February we have heard of the murder of Ahmad Arbury, the murder of Brionna Taylor, and the murder of George Floyd. Notice I say murder, because let’s not beat around the bush, it WAS murder. Those people look like me, those people COULD be me. Along side of these murders there was the attempted murder of Christian Cooper, and yes I said attempted murder, by Amy Cooper in the park in NYC when you called the police and made a false report against a black man solely because he ask her to put her dog on a leash. (Follow the rules). She purposefully used language that would ensure the police would come and Christian would be seen as the person in the wrong.

In America, we have a history of white women blaming black men for a heinous crimes they are innocent of, and these men’s lives are either ruined or they are killed. Here’s a few examples if you would like to look them up for reference:

  1. The Scottsboro Boys (1931) Nine young men were falsely accused of raping two white women on a train. Eight out of nine were initially sentenced to death. There was NO medical evidence that the rape even happened. In 2013 the men were pardoned or had their convictions overturned.
  2. Emmett Till (1955) He was a 14 year old boy and he was beaten, shot, and then thrown into the river tied to a cotton gin. All of this was done to him because he supposedly flirted with a white woman in Mississippi. His murderers were acquited.
  3. The Central Park 5 (1989) These five young men had their lives ruined because a white woman was attacked and raped in Central Park. The young men were forced into confession and all served time for a crime that not one of them committed.

Can we now see why I make such a bold statement, and I stand by it.

While America was stuck in their homes due to this pandemic that is ravaging the world we had no choice but to watch tv or scroll through social media and the internet, and whilst mindlessly scrolling and flipping, we were all confronted with a very harsh reality: RACISM IS ALIVE AND WELL AND IT IS IN OUR FACES BECAUSE IT IS BEING FILMED AND POSTED. If you own a cell phone or a television there is no way to avoid the reality of what has happened these past few months, three people were murdered and we sat back and watched it happen. We LITERALLY saw Ahmad get hunted down by 3 white men and shot in the middle of the day. We watched as a cop knelt on the neck of George Floyd, his hands in his pockets, while he begged for his life and pleaded for air. We watched horrified. We cried because simply put, that could be any of us. That was the last straw.

Black people stood up and said ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! You can’t keep killing us and getting away with it. We live in this country the same as any other person. We supposedly have the same rights as any other American, so why are we treated differently. Why do we have to be afraid to be pulled over by the police. Why do we have to fear driving through certain cities and towns. We want to have to same the same freedoms as our white brothers and sisters.

Two sides have erupted out of what has happened here in America. There are the people who are truly racist and now are free to show their true colors to all of us because they are defending their “rights,” and then there are those who choose to align themselves with black and brown people and say, “I hear you,” “I see you,” “I want to stand with you,” “I love you.” It has been great to see non-black people become just as passionate about equality and march side by side in protest. This is not something that we saw during the Civil Rights Movement, and it is a BIG step in the right direction.

What perplexes me are the people who REFUSE to acknowledge there is an issue. I become shocked and even confused when I hear non-black people say, I didn’t know racism was still an issue OR I want to understand what your struggles are. What this tells me is your circle does not consist of anyone that looks different than you do. OR maybe you have your token black friend, Hispanic friend, Asian friend, so you can check off the box that says I have a diverse set of friends. When that is the case, it is easy to not see the inequalities in the world. NOW that the world is in an uproar because black and brown people are saying OUR LIVES MATTER, BLACK LIVES MATTER, everyone all of a sudden has an opinion. NOW people are asking to be educated. Let’s get something clear, YOU CHOSE TO KEEP YOUR HEAD BURIED IN THE SAND. It’s time to chose a side. What side are you going to stand on? The side that says, no this is not a race issue, stop trying to make everything about race. OR are you going to say, YES there is a systemic issue that needs to be fixed and I see your tears, I hear your cries.

Segregation did not end in the 60s and 70s, we are still fighting today to be treated the same; to be afforded the same benefits as any other person born or naturalized in this country. It is up to each and everyone of us to work to make positive changes. We have to stop pointing fingers at each other and try to understand one another. If I am honest, I find it ridiculous that my Mom, my Aunt’s and Uncles, and cousins are having to live through this racial discord again, but maybe this time is will stick. Maybe this time people won’t just talk about that change, but actually facilitate it. I pray that 2020 will be the year that changes EVERYTHING and the next generation can truly live in a world where they are indeed judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

I am tired of being scared of being pulled over by the police. I am tired of seeing my brothers and sisters struggling to have the same opportunities as their white counterparts. I am just tired. WE have to do better.

It’s More Than Just a #Hashtag

More times than not, I read articles online, on Facebook, see news reports about issues happening in our world, and like so many others, I stay silent. I keep my thoughts and opinions to myself, because I don’t want to offend others, or have to defend my opinion. However, the time for silence needs to end. I can honestly say, at this point in time, it’s scary being a black person in America. As much as people want to scream and holler that racism does not exist, there are more and more examples that tell me otherwise. Black men and women are being murdered every single day, and the masses are Telling us, no this is not a problem. IT IS A PROBLEM!!!!! Let’s wake up and look around, people are being murdered in the streets at such an alarming rate, and it’s becoming increasingly hard to pretend that it is not happening. 

I had a long conversation with my sister tonight, and we talked in depth about the Black Lives Matter movement, if that is what you want to call it, and I told her, I am scared to become a mother because my children will have to grow up in a world where they need to fear simple privileges such as driving down the street. I also told her, as long as the white people don’t see a problem with what is going on, then nothing is going to change.

Now let’s not get anything twisted, when I say the white people, I do not mean every white person in the world, but the majority of the people who are against black lives matter are not of color. I am not racist or prejudice in any manner, my best friend is a white girl from Indiana, and she, more than anyone I know, understands why black lives matter. It’s as simple as this, I as a black woman, do not have the same privilege as a white man or woman. As much as people say they don’t see color they only see people, it’s not true. You can ask any black person if they walk into a room full of people, if the first thing they notice is how many other black people are in the crowd; especially if it is in a city or state where “we” are the minority.  The resounding answer will be yes. As a black person, from a young age we are taught that we are different solely based on the color of our skin. Does that make us less than? Of course not, but, we always know we are different. And now, society is telling us we are expendable, that our lives are not as important as someone who isn’t black, and it has got to change. 

I’m not going to go on and on and call out names of the individuals who have lost their lives, because we already know. It is now a running commentary that we are all one police stop away from being a hashtag, and as ridiculous as that sounds, it’s true. We can’t continue to excuse these heinous acts with ridiculous rhetoric, oh, well he looked suspicious, or he should have behaved like this. Just a few months ago, I was driving to Dallas with my white friend and I was pulled over for going 4 miles over the speed limit on the interstate. Now, I was going with the flow of traffic, but I was singled out for whatever reason, maybe my car stood out more because of the color. The officer pulled me over, requested I turn off my vehicle, and then step away from my car. Myfirst thought was not that I was being targeted based on my skin color, but instead, that I needed to do everything that this officer asked me to do to avoid any trouble, or a ticket. I was blessed enough to get off with a warning, but my friend was livid. She questioned, why did he make you get out, why did he request you walk away from the car? He didn’t want me to hear what he was saying to you. Praise the Lord, the officer that stopped me was level headed, and I did not question his authority, but many others are not treated  similarly, they are not even given the opportunity to step away from their vehicles. Officers are shooting first and then asking questions later. We can no longer be silent. We need to stand together, and stand for what is right. 

My heart is so heavy right now, for the people who have lost loved ones, as well as for the state of the world we live in. It is time for us to fall on our faces and pray for the world. These are scary times, and as with many things, it is going to get worse before it gets better. As I told my sister tonight, we should not be shocked by what is going on in the world, because we live in a fallen world. We live in a world where sin is now glorified, so we should not be surprised by the disasters state  around, but does that mean we are numb to it? Not at all! 

We need to come together and let our voices be heard, and say that Black Live Matter is more than just a hashtag, but instead a reality. We are no longer slaves without names or homes, we are people who should have the same rights as the person standing next to us. This has got to end, but until the world recognzes there really is a problem,  we will continue to spin our wheels, and get nowhere.