The day Barack Obama was elected president I was so proud of my country. I didn’t think that I would see a black president (he’s actually of mixed race but we’ll take what we can get) elected in my lifetime. What this meant to me was that things really are getting better. Racism really is fading into the past……but is it?
Ay, this is such a touchy subject, which I think is a huge part of the problem. Everyone is so nervous about offending someone that it’s really difficult to have an honest discussion about racism. On the other hand, if you are nervous about offending someone then at least we know you aren’t wearing a white sheet over your head when you get home from work and burning crosses in people’s front yards, and that you probably realize that a lot of pain, injustice and suffering has been caused by treating others as if they are less human, or in some cases, not human at all.
I grew-up in Whiteville, Michigan, USA. From what I can remember (sorry, I have a crap longterm memory, ask anyone who knows me well) there was one black family whose children attended my high school. There was also one child of mixed race (What does that really mean anyway? That’s a whole other discussion.) and one Latino family. That’s about the extent of the flava in our school district. Otherwise, we’re talkin’ blancos all day long.
In high school I started going to the Top of the Rock, a REALLY FUN albeit cheesy teen nightclub, and all of a sudden my whitebread world opened-up! Kids from all over Grand Rapids and the surrounding suburbs hung-out there. They played everything from Poison to Prince. (I usually sat-out the Poison songs, sorry Bret Michaels.) I met so many different people there, and I loved it.
When I went to college (good-bye Top of the Rock, I can go to real bars now) I was excited to continue my multicultural experience, but on the very first day in the cafeteria I noticed that all of the black students (and only black students) were sitting together at a table. I don’t remember noticing any Latinos at all, and the Asian student were hanging tight as well. I was bummed.
However, the Heavy D, LL Cool J, Run DMC and Salt-n-Pepa that was blasting from my dorm room pretty much bridged any gap between the black girls from Detroit that lived on my floor and I. We hung-out quite a bit (Oh, and DON’T say you’re from Detroit if you’re from some other suburb either. They didn’t like that. I didn’t blame them.) but the black guys, um yeah, they stayed FAR away. This bummed me out too (We all have our preferences, are you all freaked-out by mine? Maybe you should ask yourself why.) and through my rose-colored glasses I thought, well that’s sad and not fair, but on another level I understood that too. Do you?
Anyway, I now have a more diverse group of friends than I ever imagined I would have when I was back at Whitebread High, and I like it that way. Bigots almost always show themselves immediately and I quickly eliminate them from my life. “Stickin’ to your own” is boring and closed-minded. My husband is of mixed race, as is my son. However, there’s an interesting phenomenon that occurs when you are white but living a rainbow coalition kind of life. Ignorant people assume that because you are white, they can spew their ignorance to you. They also assume you’ll agree with them! I don’t play that. I decided a long time ago that the way in which I could make a difference, however small, was to do two things…live my life in the way I think everyone should (at least in this aspect) and call bigots out on their bullshit. And I do.
And that goes for all ignorance…don’t say shit to me about homosexuals either sicko. I will come for you.
And that’s all I have to say about that. For now.
The revolution will not be televised.