I idolize wanting friendship and more contact with people of the same race. One of the common complaints I have about my life is that I don’t have contact with enough black people. I have plenty of white friends—that’s no issue. I have a set of diverse friends: Filipino, Indian/Sikh, Ethiopian/Muslim. But few black friends. I actually can count on one hand the number of black friends who aren’t related to me. My white friends are too numerous to count.
This is a problem. Somehow I’ve made it an issue that it’s important to surround myself with more black friends so I can be more “in tune” with black culture. I don’t fully understand the talk about white supremacy. I only partially understand the idea of white privilege and don’t fully agree with it. Ferguson was a big deal but how did it suddenly become a turning point in race relations? The deaths of Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, and Sandra Bland are tragic, but how are they significant in the sense of how they play a larger role in racism?
You’d think because I’m black that these things would automatically make sense to me. But they don’t. I think Freddie Gray was surrounded by idiot cops, Tamir Rice was shot by a cop who should have never been let out of academy, and Sandra Bland paid the price of nervousness around a cop for failing to signal. (I have been guilty of the same when seeing a cop behind me; moving out of the way is instinctive and automatic. I make sure that my failing to signal doesn’t happen now.)
I don’t necessarily see race as the main factor in all these but I do think they play a role on some level. Had Sandra Bland been white, she would have had a slap on the wrist and been let go. A cop who saw a white boy with a gun would have been a bit more cautious about opening fire than making hasty judgments. And Freddie Gray was the victim of being a black man who seemed untrustworthy and would do or say anything to get out of being arrested.
I want to understand these things. I even want to understand these things to the point of agreeing with them. How is that white people get these concepts and I don’t? Is white guilt truly a thing that causes white people to hate themselves and blame their own race for injustices upon other races?
These are all questions I’m asking myself and wrestling with. I may never have a significant friendship with another black woman. And I need to be okay with that. Because I have friendships with wonderful people: secular and religious. They all teach me something and all make me a better person in different ways. And those kinds of friendships transcend all boundaries of race.
I don’t subscribe to the views of most black people. In fact, I may be the only black person who thinks the way I think and feels the way I feel about race relations in this country. Nevertheless, I’m a black woman living in America and I will say what I feel. My opinion is just as valid as anyone else’s.
The most recent incident of racism is the shooting in Charleston. Anyone who claims that it is not racism in any way is a flipping idiot. A white man walked into a black church, sat down with the people for an hour, and then proceeded to kill as many of them as he could. It doesn’t matter what he allegedly said. It doesn’t matter what his Facebook profile (that has since been taken down) said. It doesn’t matter what all his relatives say about his burgeoning interest in white supremacy. The facts clearly tell us that a white man, who was not a congregant of the black church, walked in and deliberately stole the lives of 9 innocent people.
But I don’t believe his actions are representative of the majority of white people. Most white people in America are not “white supremacists” and stand in solidarity with black people against injustice. While America has moved beyond government-sanctioned racism, it doesn’t mean that racism in American no longer exists.
If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I have always struggled to fit in with the black community. I don’t harbor views that make me leery of every white person I come across. In fact, I embrace many white people who enter my life. They have accepted me and made me feel like a person instead of a woman with a dark skin color. All of my bridesmaids (save my maid of honor) were white. My husband is white. The majority of my friends are white. I have many white acquaintances. I have rarely felt racially threatened by a white person. When I dislike someone, the color of their skin usually doesn’t factor into it. It often stems from the fact that I think they are idiots, ignorant, or inconsiderate.
Racism in America has escalated to a high level because of the media constantly shoving supposedly race-related incidents down our throats. Not every incident against a black person is directly race-related. (Notice I used the word “directly.)
Recently (within the past year or so), we’ve had a lot of incidents involving white police and black victims. A white policeman does something stupid and a black person usually suffers at the hands of the cop. As a friend (who is white) mentioned, there may be a subconscious element of racism. In America, we engineered to be leery of black people because they are often seen as “criminals” or untrustworthy. For me, it’s all about dress. If a dude (white or black) is dressed with a bandana over his head, has a baggy T-shirt on, and his pants are sagging down so you can see his Calvin Kleins, I will cross the street to avoid him. Again if a dude (white or black), is dressed professionally or even in a casual manner that appears non-threatening, I will remain on the same sidewalk. Appearance does matter.
Getting back to the white police versus black victims, I think a lot of these situations are the result of a majority of white men being cops who police predominantly black communities. As a result, there are often clashes between the two, so when a fatality occurs, it’s automatically branded as a race-related incident. I don’t believe these white cops wake up in the morning thinking, “I’m gonna kill a [insert N-word here] today.” No. These cops wake up willing to perform their duties, and when an incident occurs in area that is in or close to the inner city, some cops (again who tend to be white) act rashly, leading to the unfortunate deaths of black people.
I don’t believe the murder of many of these black victims is premeditated. But I do think we have a lot cops who are complete morons and should never have been allowed to serve.
Throughout American history, mostly in the 20th and 21st centuries, clashes between black people and white policemen have been common. Before, it was government sanctioned or government allowed. While these kinds of incidents are not as common as they used to be, there are still far too many problems occurring.
Does racism against black people in America still exist? Yes, absolutely. Are there cops who are racist? Yes, absolutely. But I think we need to do better as a country to improving race relations. White cops need to bridge the divide and reach out to black communities. Get to know them so that when an incident occurs, the first cry isn’t racism. The first cry is “most white cops aren’t like this in our community.”
Black people need to reach across the aisle too. Approaching a cop is always scary. But again, if a police officer appears non-threatening, simply smile or make a comment about his willingness to protect the community. The police are people too. They are under a lot of stress—far more than most people can imagine. A bright spot in their day can make a difference in how they respond to situations. Often when someone is in military uniform, people thank them for their willingness to serve and protect our country. Why can’t we begin to do the same for a police officer in uniform too?
Easing tension between blacks and police is a 2-way street. Maybe my ideas for bridging the gap aren’t the best. But we’ve got to start thinking of ways to improve race relations in this country instead of implementing self-segregation. White people are NOT the enemy. And if we embrace the ones who embrace us, we can begin to weed out the ones who want to harm us.
I have a lot to say and if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll find these thoughts quite redundant. But I need to put them down somewhere and get them out of my brain and off my chest.
Let me preface this by saying: I don’t hate white people. I think white people and black people need to work together to effect change. That being said…
I live in a white neighborhood. It’s a peaceful neighborhood with very little crime. One day, I sat in my car, idling in the parking lot next to my apartment, listening to the remainder of a favorite song. I had just come from the gym and it was at night. A cop car pulled alongside me with a white officer at the helm. He very politely asked if everything was okay and I replied that it was. He gave me a dubious “okay” and pulled away.
I’m not sure what probable cause he had for pulling up. Because businesses were closed? Because it was a lone car idling in the parking lot? Did he see that I was a woman all alone? Did he see a black person in a car and wondered what the hell I was doing in the neighborhood?
I’ll never know. But the latter option has run through my mind.
That’s not the only instance in which my family has had a run in with white cops. I often tell the story of my dad who was driving home (we lived in a predominantly white neighborhood) and was less than a half-mile from home when he got stopped by a cop. The officer asked what he was doing and my father said he was heading home. The officer asked where that was and my father said it was down the street, a couple of houses away. The officer let my father go and my dad made it home safely, but he was always convinced he got stopped for DWB — driving while black.
I had a conversation with my husband that left me in tears last night. Because I love my son and I well and truly believe that he’s somewhat at a disadvantage because of his skin color. Despite the fact that Trayvon Martin was not killed by a cop, I really fear my son getting into an altercation with a cop simply because he’s walking around with a hoodie at 6 pm during the winter when it’s dark. My son may be half-white but he’ll only be seen as a black man in the eyes of the law.
I’m tired of making excuses for black people and why they deserved what they got. Mike Brown didn’t deserve to get shot at 12 times. I don’t care if police are trained to empty their clip or if they’re supposed to shoot until a person goes down. I think that’s barbarous. That 12-year-old in Cleveland, Ohio, didn’t deserve to die. I don’t care if he chipped the paint off the toy gun to make it look real. He was TWELVE.
Minorities have a history of getting the short end of the stick:
- “Oh, that black person was being an idiot to the cop so of course he got shot.”
- “Oh, that woman was all over the man so of course she was asking to get raped.”
- “Oh, that Latin American immigrant came into the country illegally so of course his American kids should get deported.”
When does it stop? Who polices the police? I wasn’t much on white privilege before Ferguson, but I guess I am now. White people are more likely to be in positions of power. Black people, to succeed, have to (quite frankly) kiss ass in ways that their white peers don’t.
My mom always told me that black people have to dress nicely and act properly in front of white people if they want to get anywhere. My mother was promoted to the head forewoman position at her job from being a CLEANING LADY. She doesn’t attribute it to her great work ethic (which she had) and great English (she’s got a strong French accent). She attributes it to the fact that she dressed properly and always acted politely in front of white people in positions of power.
You see, I play the game, too. Where a white person can walk into an interview with jeans and be a likely candidate, I have to dress up in a business suit, be articulate, and put on my A-game to get the job.
Oh wait, that’s not a fair comparison because anyone who walks in with jeans won’t get a job in a white-collar industry.
You’d be surprised.
I’ve had to work TWICE as hard as my white peers to succeed in academics and in my career.
I really don’t believe white people are the enemy. It may sound like it, but I don’t feel that way. (Drop in reference to white husband that validates my lack of racism) My sole point is that white people hold the upper hand on a lot of things. In ways they don’t even realize. I may not always identify with my black peers, but that doesn’t negative the fact that my skin color is still dark.
So I guess I believe that white privilege exists. And I don’t know how to change it. It’s been an institution in America since the 1700s. Maybe the first step in breaking down white privilege is accepting the fact that, if you are white in America — and I don’t care if you’re a redneck or live in Appalachia — you have advantages over black people.
I guess that’s it.
I do not subscribe the popular collective mind-set in Black culture. I do not believe everything revolves around race. Sure, dismiss my opinions as invalid because I am a first-generation American, but the fact of the matter, is: I was born in the US. I have a right to my opinion just like any other Black American.
There are a lot of conflicting reports regarding the shooting of Michael Brown. I have heard and read that Brown was a suspect in a robbery of a convenience store. It’s possible that he was not the actual suspect but a Black man (because all Black people look alike) who kinda fit the description of the suspect. There are witnesses who say that at the time Brown was shot, he was unarmed and had his hands up in the air in surrender. I have also heard reports that he was resisting arrest and charging police at the time he was shot. Another account says that Brown was shot in the back.
People, of all races and colors, just want the truth about what actually occurred. I do not think it is fair to conclude that the Brown shooting revolves solely around race simply because the police officer, Darren Wilson, is white and the victim was Black. Sometimes, unfortunate shootings like this happen regardless of race or color. We don’t live in a perfect world. This wouldn’t be an issue if Wilson were Black and Brown was also Black.
The second autopsy of Brown’s body revealed that he was shot six times, twice in the head. If it is true that he was charging at police, then the police had a right to defend themselves using force. But if Brown did have his hands up in the air in surrender and was shot six times anyway, then Officer Wilson has a lot of ‘splaining to do.
Officer Wilson is currently on paid administrative leave. The media have no clues on his whereabouts. Rumors are that Wilson has skipped town and is laying low somewhere out of state (probably a smart idea for him). His professional history does not include any complaints, but in fact, notes that he was commended for outstanding service. How does an officer with no history of violence or trouble suddenly find himself at the center of a racially charged shooting?
I’m always thinking about issues of race.
No, no, not Jesse Jackson-type issues. More like fitting in with the black community-type issues. Read more…
The older I get, the more I see race. I really shouldn’t since I’m in an interracial marriage, but I’m well aware of when I’m the only black person around. The best moment are when I forget I’m black and just feel like a person (only around close family).
But sometimes when I’m working, race creeps into my mind. Did that person choose to ignore me because she’s white and I’m black? Does this person not like me because I’m a different race? Why am I in an office full of white people?
My increased thoughts of race aren’t really that great in a society that should be so past this. But I get excited when I see a person of color in my community because we are so few. I get even more excited to see Hispanics (of which there are fewer).
I grew up on Long Island, New York where everything was mixed and integrated. White people walked into bodegas, Jamaican people served beef patties to Hispanics, and black people lived peacefully in traditionally white communities. I never though about race much because people mixed so freely. Then I moved to Pennsylvania where people aren’t really prejudiced but still remains somewhat segregated. I’ve gotten looks from white toddlers who simply stare at me, probably because I’m the darkest face they’ve ever seen in their entire lives. (I’ll think that over the fact that I may be the ugliest person they’ve ever seen in their entire lives.) When I see a black woman with white children, it’s usually (but not always) the nanny.
Yes, I live in a community affluent enough to afford nannies. They’re not always black; sometimes they have Eastern European accents.
I don’t know how to stop seeing race. I’m not a Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton advocate—quick to point the finger to discrimination but sometimes I wonder how my race has played a factor in certain things in the past couple of years.
Maybe it’s the curse of this fallen world that I’ll see race play a prominent role as I get older. I think Barack Obama became president (and was re-elected) because he is black. I’ve lost black friends because I vocally opposed his candidacy the first time around. In the end, our differences came down to… race.
I’ve probably said before that in some ways, I’m more comfortable around white people because in my experience, they are not as outwardly judgmental as my black peers are. I’ve had people show up to my wedding and not show up to the reception after discovering that my husband is white. I have family that hasn’t treated my husband with the respect he deserves, and I suspect it is because of his pale skin color. All the people I am thinking of are black.
I should not be self-conscious. I should be secure in my own skin. I should not let others make me feel inferior with my consent. There’s a lot of should nots. But what should I do?
Image from cheezburger.com
During the past few weeks, my husband and I have had discussions on and off about race in America, specifically brought on by my awareness of Black History Month.
I have been consistently debating with him on a variety of topics related to black culture in America, ie, the current need for Black History Month, affirmative action, racial quotas in the workplace, scholarships based on race rather than merit, the double standard for whites and other minorities, etc. Usually by the end of these discussions, I am frustrated and downright near livid that he can’t seem to understand my position and I cannot understand his only because we do not share the same skin color.
Then I go online and read blog posts on sites like AOL’s Black Voices and TheRoot.com and get annoyed and angry because I’m reminded that I do not share the opinions of most black people and the majority of them would not share mine. Read more…