Real Experiences for BHM 2016: Experiencing Racism

Today's moment of Black History comes with a video! Be sure to watch it here before continuing on. (Sorry, since it's not mine and I can't find it on YouTube, I'm not sure how to embed it here).

Some Perspective of Racism

I learned I was Black when I was 4. The person who told me was a white girl whose mother worked with my dad. I had grown up attending preschool with the same kids whom I would eventually graduate from high school (and one in college) with. Except for me and one other girl, they were all white but it NEVER occurred to me that this was odd. I NEVER asked my parents *why* they were a different color. I NEVER asked why they had blue eyes or green eyes or blonde hair or red hair. I understood that they were people just like I was a person and that people come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. But one day, this girl walked up to me and said "you're black and I'm white"--I took her literally and showed her crayons in the coloring box to prove that I was not black and she was not white, more like tumbleweed vs. peach, but she insisted she was white and I, black. To this day, I have no idea why she felt the need to tell me I was black...

From there it went from white people telling me I was black to white kids calling me the n-word or suggesting I "could pass" (um...if you look at me and can't tell I'm black you need to see your eye doctor) or saying I "was different and not really black" as though it was to be a compliment.

In the video shared above, two of the ladies ignore everything to argue that racism can be felt by everyone and that everyone experiences discrimination. However, even if everyone experiences discrimination, it doesn't make it right—stereotyping a bald, tatted, white guy as a skinhead is wrong, just as stereotyping a black man as a thug is wrong. One does not justify the other. The major points they are missing is how often, where, and why. Sure, we all conform to get a job, but there's a huge difference in trimming your beard or wearing clothes you wouldn't normally wear and using lye—the harsh chemical found in relaxers that not only causes hair loss but has been linked to the increased rate of fibroids in black women[2]—to make your hair "acceptable" or lying about your name because its "too black" or simply failing to conform because you can't change the color of your skin. They miss the fact that it is completely possible to avoid minorities who have racist attitudes towards whites. I met a white girl who at 22 years old had never had a conversation with a black person until the internship company placed us in the same apartment. There were 4 of us in that apartment and I was the only black person. Had I said racist things, she still had 2 allies. When she said racist things (which she did), I was alone—as always—even the people I worked for were all white. That is why when the conversation starts about racism, it is discussed from the point of view that a white person perpetuated the act. Minorities (black, hispanic, asian, whatever) are just that, minorities; in most situations we cannot escape the person who is racist towards us because they are our teacher, the boss, the store owner, the police officer, and just as all of the whites sitting around this woman nodded or stayed silent, no one is jumping up to be our ally or reassure us that they don't agree with that person. They're saying *shrug* it happens or it's in your head. The lady who said it's about more than black and white was correct. It's also about power, about money, and about options, three things minorities are are much less likely to have. #BeAnAlly #BlackHistory2016 #MakeItCount #ListenToThoseAroundYou


  1. "Are Racist People in Denial". via Facebook. January 7, 2016
  2. Lauren A. Wise, Julie R. Palmer, David Reich, Yvette C. Cozier, and Lynn Rosenberg. "Hair Relaxer Use and Risk of Uterine Leiomyomata in African-American Women". American Journal of Epidemiology. January 10, 2012

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