Black History

I am white and nine kinds of privileged, but I’m also pissed off…

I am maybe four years old, and my mother and aunt volunteer for a program in the Perry projects that teaches parenting and life skills to the community.  There is a day care during the meetings, and mom brings me to play with the other kids.  I, who have only just started school in a very white neighborhood, am meeting black kids for the very first time.

One’s name was Junebug.  I don’t know if that was his given name or a nickname, but he befriended me immediately despite being older.  I recall him being quite good with the younger kids, likely because he had siblings of his own.  I don’t ever remember thinking about the color of his skin.

There was a girl, too, though her name escapes me.  I was fascinated, absolutely FASCINATED by her hair.  By all the girl’s hair, really…they had braids and beads and barrettes and those little bobble ties I wanted so bad but no…mom kept my hair short and boyish and even if it was long, I could never have it look like that.  One day she let me touch it, on the condition that she could also touch mine.  I wonder now if she was envious of my poker straight hair, wondering what it would be like to run a brush through and not have to worry about tangles or frizz. 

A few years later, I asked for a doll for Christmas.  Her name was Kenya and she was from…Kenya.  More than one person was curious as to why I would want a black baby doll.  I heard this, and was crushed…to do her hair of course!!!  And what difference did it make?  She was unlike all my other dolls, and that made her special.

Again, super white school, so when my friend Sabine, who is black, arrived in 6th grade, my classmates were a little wary of her.  Having hung out with the Perry kids at such a young age, and having parents who never spoke an ill word against another race, I saw no problems and immediately befriended her.  It is now 25 years later and I still consider her a friend, and can honestly tell you that I do not believe race played any instance in our friendship at any time.

Very white high school, of course, so I didn’t have any black friends there.  In fact, the black girls pretty much all stuck together, which I won’t lie…I found intimidating.  Not because of their skin color, but because of their clique-power.  I was wary of them in the same way I was wary of all the girl groups that seemed to be “exclusive” at my school. 

Once though, I was assigned some project with a girl name Trisha.  She was a year behind me and I remember working with her on whatever, and having a good time and many laughs.  In the hallways after, we would always smile or say hi…but in the lunchroom, she sat with the black girls.  It wasn’t meant to be segregated…it just was.

Fairly white college-my first friend I made was named Vanessa.  If memory serves, she was half black and half Hispanic.  Again, it seemed the black kids hung out together mostly, but they were much more accepting of the white kids, and vice versa.  I was only there for a year and yes, it wasn’t a very diverse school, but I made some diverse friends.

Today.  Hubs works with, or has worked with, several black men.  He has befriended many of them.  These men-let’s single out his buds Rome, Malus and Devon-treat me like a damn queen.  When I sit in the parking lot waiting to pick Mark up, Devon is always sure to wave and holler “What up B?”  When we hang with Malus, he always treats me as part of the group and never just “Mark’s wife.”  And Rome?  I could probably go to his house right now with an emergency and he would handle it for me.

My point here is that I have had literally no bad experiences with the black community.  I recall a day when I got stuck in the snow on the east side.  Some folks would be terrified.  I was relieved when a group of black men approached my car and knocked on the window and said “Can we help?”  They did…they pushed me right out of that bank, and got me on my way.

So, with my lack of negative experience, it is simply unfathomable to me why in the world people see black skin and think: criminal.  I honestly have known more white criminals in my life than black ones.  All the black people who have ever entered my life have done so in a respectful and loving way, so what the fuck, America? 

Police brutality is not surprising to me…my husband has faced some low-grade harassment himself, and he’s a white guy.  One time he was walking to work, in his grungy work clothes, eating a sandwich, and a cop accused him of both panhandling and stealing.  So, the idea that black men are being targeted does not surprise me, because I know they target you on your appearance, and being black is like wearing a suit that says “Pull me over.”

Anyway…what happened to George Floyd is despicable. I am SO GLAD that I did not grow up in a racist setting and have to unlearn such atrocities.  I am proud to be able to stand alongside my friends of color and say hey!  THIS IS WRONG.

So what about you, reader?  Can you stand up and scream about the injustice with me, or are you too scared?  And of what, exactly?  You’re own prejudices, or those that surround you?

This is America in 2020 and if you’re still scared of black people, and you think a man deserved to die over suspicion of a forged 20$ bill, then you can just GTFO.

…I just cannot believe I had to go ranting twice this week.  Unbelievable.

Also, very unlikely that I will update on Thursday, just FYI, as I will be venturing across state to Mark’s stepdads’ memorial service.  Hopefully on Monday I can write about how I caught a fish or something and not whatever the hell is on fire at the moment.

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