Hello all five people who read this (lol). Welcome back to another lovely edition of Here I Blog. As some of the people in my personal life may know, I’m currently on a 13-day vacation from work (one of the perks of working at a preschool). I’ve decided to give myself a little challenge and make sure that I do something productive creatively every day for the 13 days. Today is Day 2, so as part of that I’m posting a new blog today. I wouldn’t be too surprised if I posted another entry before the 13 days are over. So, “what’s today’s topic going to be?” Well, last week, I talked about sexism/homophobia and how I’ve been on the wrong side of the battle for most of my life. Today, to follow in that same theme, I want to talk about racism. So, here’s Part 2 of “Blog Your Illusion.”
I am racist. Wow. How’s that for an opening sentence? You see, racism can manifest itself in any number of ways. Of course, there’s the obvious ways, like someone who outwardly uses hateful language (“nigger,” “cotton-picker,” “porchmonkey,” etc.), or someone who is openly against mixed-race relationships, or people who specifically follow Blacks and/or Latinos in stores because they assume they’re going to steal something. Those assholes are easy to spot. Those are the people that are going to be on the cover of Jackass Racist Asswipe Magazine.
Then, there are people are either don’t know they are racist or don’t consider themselves racist. I’m sure you all know these one of these people. You know, the person who hears an African-American speak eloquently and feels the need to compliment you on how “articulate” or “eloquent” they are, even though they never felt the need to pay the same “compliment” to a white person with the same vernacular. No? How about the person who asks you a million questions about what it’s like being with someone of color when they first see or meet your non-white significant other? Oh, and one of my favorites is when they hear that you have a college education and they ask if you’re the first of your family to go to college. That’s always a fun one. These folks will only get a small feature in the Subtle Racists for All blog or something like that.
There is one last group of people who can and should consider themselves racist. The people in this group do not appear to be racist at all, are against racism, and will sometimes even stand up against racism. On the surface they seem like good-hearted, open-minded, really nice people. They might date minorities, have kids with them, be friends with them, marry them, hang with them, etc. They may also find themselves calling a neighborhood “bad” or “dangerous” solely based on the demographic, without having any actual statistics or experiences to back it up. These people will see a group of men dressed in a certain way, and feel uneasy or unsafe, despite the fact that they probably have friends and/or family who look basically exactly the same. You see, that’s where I fall under. I’m one of these guys, and I am not proud.
Growing up in Gravesend, between the Marlboro Projects and Ave U, I’ve heard probably heard every racial slur slung both ways between black/Latinos and white people. I mean I’ve probably heard and seen it all. From “get off of our avenue you fuckin’ dirty nigga” to “yo, you lost, white boy?” to “yo mow my lawn, Pablo.” I’ve been chased out of the projects (that’s what happens when you’re a chubby light-skinned kid in a baseball uniform), called a “dumb fuckin’ spic” by white kids from the avenue, and almost got my knees taken out with a 2×4 by a Latino in the middle of a White vs. “Mexican” altercation where I was perceived to be white because, again, light skin (and I hung out with a lot of white kids in junior high).
I also happen to live in a country tainted with awful racism in its history that is still pumped through our mainstream media. I’m pretty sure there hasn’t been a day of my life where I did not see or hear some sort of racist portrayal of people of color. Whether it’s racist characterizations in TV and film or skewed news delivery or political bullshit, you can’t really escape racism and stereotyping. This becomes a major problem when these stereotypes are fed to us on a constant basis, which leads many people to accept these stereotypes as fact. During the recent racial tensions brought on by the Ferguson case and all of the protests and riots, a lot of people exposed themselves as being under this category in their opinions and their justifications. They didn’t realize just how racist having a lack of apathy can be, especially when racial stereotypes and clichés are used to back their arguments.
While I knew all of the racist stereotypes and bullshit was just that, I fell victim to it sometimes. Again, I am not some hateful asshole, I dated a Black woman for almost three years, and whatever else you all need to hear to understand the point I’m trying to make. However, I’d be lying if I said that there haven’t been times where I’ve walked by a group of three or more guys who were either black or Latino, and if they were dressed in a certain way, I’d feel a little worried about getting into some sort of altercation. I find myself feeling uncomfortable going into neighborhoods that are predominantly serve as homes to minorities, without having anything to base it on. Am I scarred by past experiences? Have I been brainwashed by my environment/media? No matter the reason, it’s no excuse. It’s terrible to ever try to assume anything, especially the worst, about someone based merely on their skin color or physical appearance.
It took me a while to realize that just because I dated a Black woman and had Black friends and listened to “Black” music and used slang in my vernacular, it doesn’t I still don’t have a bit of racism embedded in me. Fortunately, I saw it, noticed it, acknowledged it, and am willing to fight against it. This world has enough hate and poison in it. I live every day to try and bring more acceptance and love to this world, or at least I try to. It starts with myself, just like it starts with all of us.