I started this blog because like most people who start blogs, I wanted to have a place on the internet to come and share my thoughts and ideas. These thoughts and ideas are often very direct, straight to the point and unbiased. It doesn’t matter if you are my friend or my enemy, if you ask me for advice or perspective you’re going to get it from a straight-shooter. My posts will typically be light-hearted, but due to the climate of our Nation I wanted to make a serious post about race from my perspective. Anyone who is NON black that reads this post, please know that what I am going to say is fair, it’s honest and from the heart. That was my disclaimer. Now lets begin.
I am a black woman that is 33 years old. That means I have 33 years of experience at being black. Growing up in Raleigh, NC I can honestly say I had a pretty good childhood. I had great parents that loved me, I lived in a middle-class neighborhood and I attended both public and private schools. One of my early childhood friends was filippino. Her name was Nancy (heeey Nancy!). Nancy’s dad would pick me up every morning for school. Another childhood friend was an italian girl named Kara (heeey Kara if you are reading this lol). She lived across the street from me and I was ALWAYS at her house after school. I had diverse friends but it was also during a point in my childhood when I had yet recognized the differences of our race. I knew we looked different but I was unaware that these differences would be amplified 20 years later.
It wasn’t until around 7th grade that I realized a few things:
1. I am black
2. Our family was the only black family on our street
3. I talked like a white girl.
You see my first middle school in 6th grade was pretty much 98% white. Most of my friends were white and that atmosphere seemed like the norm. I transferred to Carnage Middle School for 7th grade because my mom wanted me to attend a magnet school that would allow me to participate in creative classes and electives. I want to clarify and say I DID have black childhood friends as well. Just not as many as I did white.
Carnage Middle School was very different. Very urban. Very diverse. Very segregated.
I remember walking in the lunch room and the white students were on one side and the black students were on the other. Without saying, you basically had to choose. The white tables would have 1-2 “token” black people and the black tables would have 1-2 “token” white people. I’m pretty sure this is how it is at most schools in the south, although, we as humans tend to want to be with our own. A poll done by Reuters in 2013 showed that about 40 percent of white Americans and about 25 percent of non-white Americans are surrounded exclusively by friends of their own race. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it may just be a human nature thing. However as we get older, depending on where you live, we either continue to embrace that segregation or search for diversity.
Fast-forward to my 20’s, I’m reminded of that moment in 7th grade when a black girl interrupted my conversation I was having to ask “why do you talk like that? You sound like a white girl”. I was so confused. It was categorized as “white girl” because it was proper, because I pronounced all my words clearly, because I was meeting a standard that in her eyes “brown girls” rarely met. It was also a much larger realization that if she believed that, her parents probably believed it too. Stay with me, I’m making a point.
In America, white is the standard. Roland Martin made a great point when dragging Wendy Williams for being an uncle tom by saying “One of the reasons you don’t have historically white universities is because we just simply call them universities. The fact of the matter is you can go around the country and you will see universities, Wendy, that are 70, 80, 90, 95 percent white.” This is 100% true. White is the standard for pretty much everything. This is why all barbies at first were white. Babydolls were white. Cartoons on TV were white and it was completely normal. Superheros were white. Most print ads I saw growing up had white models. Most runway models were white. We can go even further and discuss stereotypes in movies. Have we progressed? Yes, but I want white people to understand that the passion and pride that black people feel is because slowly but surely we began to realize that “white” no-longer has to be our standard, AND THAT’S OK! BET was created because OUR perspective and OUR story and OUR actors and actresses were’t being shown on mainstream TV. So we created our own channel. I need you to realize that our decision to create our own does NOT equal hate and division. I want my child to have a diverse upbringing but I also want him or her to know that they are a man or woman of color, and its a beautiful thing.
In my 33 years, I have experienced racism. I have also seen racism first hand. It DOES happen. It IS real. It DOES exist. These are all facts. Nobody is looking for a handout. We just want to be treated and viewed FAIRLY. When it comes to #blacklivesmatter, to me it is a beautiful movement. Its an uprising of people taking pride in the color of their skin and demanding that it be respected. Respect the fact that our struggle is real and takes place FOR SIMPLY EXISTING. Being born black in someways is almost like being born with a handicap. You have to be creative and extra smart and extra whatever to beat the odds. Am I saying that being born black IS a handicap, no. But in america it is.
As I marched in support of #blacklivedmatter on July 7th in Manhattan, New York, I was so comforted to see so many white, black, asian, indian and spanish people marching alongside me. They were holding signs, chanting and yelling for OUR cause. They acknowledge that there is a privilege to being white. They understand that there are experiences that we’ve had that they will never encounter. Most importantly they understand that the first step to healing is admitting there is a problem. America has more than just a race problem, there is a HUMANITY problem.
Photo: Andre L. Perry
As a woman of color it literally breaks my heart to see video footage of black men being unfairly profiled and judged time and time again. That heartbreak turns to frustration and anger when someone of another race decides to belittle the situation and act like pain is not an emotion we’re entitled to. Like “how dare you be angry over this when there is black on black crime everyday!” Let’s address that quickly:
According to FBI homicide statistics (sourced from www.usuncut.com):
- Between 1980 and 2008, 84% of white homicides were committed by other whites.
- Whites kill more whites than black people kill each other.
- Whites commit more crimes than any other race.
- Whites kill more members of vulnerable populations than any other race.
- Gang murders are most common among white gangs.
In other words, “White on white crime” is just as real as black on black crime, yet the term white on white crime is never used by mainstream media. So we march and chant “Black Lives Matter!” to express our frustration and desire for equality. In turn we are villainized for desiring the very thing America was supposed to be built on. Its exhausting.
So you might ask, “what is it that African Americans want?” The answer is simple:
We want respect and acknowledgement. Sincere respect and acknowledgement. Respect the fact that we helped build this country. Acknowledge that we are just as good as you. Our children are just as talented. Our men are just as smart. Our women are just as beautiful. Our skin color holds the same value as anyone else’s. We are EQUAL to you. Then TREAT us as such. In the workplace, in social settings and most importantly, inside and outside the Court of Law. Treat us the same!
Until then, we will continue to take pride in saying, chanting, yelling and screaming……#blacklivesmatter.
Because they do.
A black girl that speaks like a well educated black girl.