Thus far I’ve not addressed anything on my site beyond the founding concept of sharing my opinions on entertainment, tech, and the such. After this last week, though, it would be immoral for me not to write this and share it on here.
I hope this post makes you feel uncomfortable. I hope it may make you angry. You can agree with me, or disagree, that makes no never mind to me. Why I am writing this is to hold up a mirror to our country, all sides of it. This post is about racism in America, and the fact that since the election on November 8th, 2016, there is a racist group of our fellow Americans that feel emboldened by the outcome; they feel that the election of Donald Trump gives them a license to let their disgusting ideologies run free into the streets of our country.
As a bit of background about me, until I was 11 I grew up in the east end projects of Waterbury, CT. 99% of my friends and neighbors were Black or Latino. As such, I distinctly remember the first memory I have of racism growing up.
I was in third grade, and a school yard fight broke out between two kids; one, a Black friend of mine from our neighborhood, and the other, a punk ass spoiled white kid from the slightly more affluent ‘condos’ a few streets over. There was not a teacher in sight and as always happens with schoolyard brawls, especially in the 80’s, a circle formed with our friends on one side and the other kid’s friends on the opposite.
The two that were having the argument met in the middle, intent on slugging out an outcome. A chant rose up across the circle, among the white kid’s friends:
“Fight, fight, Nigger and a White! If the White don’t win, we all jump in!”
I didn’t actually comprehend what was said until I was a little older and reflecting back on it, but what I did know was that my friends were angered and hurt by the chant. A huge brawl broke out among us, one that was short lived as the teachers had finally made their way to intercede.
After the fight, one of my friends tried to explain to me what had turned a disagreement into a mob brawl. I remember the concept being completely foreign to me, incomprehensible. It took me a few years to fully understand the scope of what I first caught a glimpse of on that day. From that point on though, I began to notice that I was treated as an outsider among most of my friend’s families, something I was oblivious to up to that point. I began to notice that I was often called ‘that white boy’, or ‘little cracka’ by my friend’s parents. Those terms, which I had previously thought endearing, I now saw as a symbol of my difference, eyes now opened to a rift in America, one that I could never now unsee.
My family moved to Western Massachusetts when I was 11. There, I saw the opposite dynamic. I saw the rural American culture, where minorities were truly the minority. My new school was 90% white, and now I saw the other side of the racial coin.
I remember laughing at the kids in my 6th grade who thought that because they wore bandannas and baggy clothes that they were ‘gangsta’ (which, lead to a fight or two, because those kids wanted to see if I was really ‘hard’ because I grew up in the inner city.) I remember the giggling among a group of white 6th grade girls because they said nigger and they thought that no one caught them. I remember seeing the daily discomfort in the eyes of the handful of Black and Latino students as they made their way through the day in a world where they felt that they were the different ones. I saw all this because of where I grew up…
…and my eyes are no less open today.
To start, I understand that it has been a hell of an election cycle for most Americans. Many saw their choice candidate fight an uphill battle against a system stacked in a way that, even though he ignited a movement, he was ultimately sidelined in favor of a more politically ‘safe’ candidate. Others had their chips on what they felt was a milestone of a candidate, someone that they had the utmost confidence would be the first female president of the United States, some one they felt who’s skills and past experiences would enable her to uniquely understand their issues. They stood with her through ‘scandal after scandal’ that followed her all the way to the general election, and then had their hopes crushed as she gained more individuals votes yet lost to what many call a flawed and archaic system, the electoral college. Still others watched as their whole political party of choice went off the rails, nominating someone that they felt did not represent the things that they believed in, and for whatever reason, be it their disdain for the opposition, or their desire to not want an appointment of a Supreme Court justice that didn’t align with their belief system, they still felt compelled to cast their vote along party lines and elect what they felt was a “lesser of two evils”.
Then there it the final group, the dark, disgusting underbelly of America; those who have had their repulsive racist ideologies emboldened by the outcome of the 2016 election.
As much as we wish this group of people would choke on their own vomit, the truth is, not only do they exist, they are walking around you in plain sight, often unbeknownst. They are the ones who hold on to the past of America, thinking that the oppression of old is the way of the future.
There are those that will say that this election hasn’t brought those elements to bear any more than they have been. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Twice already, this week alone, this vile segment of America has crossed my path.
I live in a small, gated apartment complex on the outskirts of the Denver Tech Center. Our community is extremely diverse, consisting of many different races, although a large percentage of the residents are from India. Last Monday, as I headed out to work, I noticed that someone had finger painted a swastika on the hood of a car belonging to one of the Black families in our building.
This was the first time since the election that I had seen such a brazen act of racism with my own eyes. It brought back all the things along the years that I’ve seen, and it made me angry. It also brought up the anger of hearing of all the reports from across the country of such stuff happening. This was NOT my America… but yet it is.
The very next day I get a call from one of my good friends here in Denver… Friend is actually an understatement, this man is family. My brother.
While sitting on his porch, a pair of young white men passed him, calling him a nigger and telling him to leave their community before Trump kicked him out. They ran when they were called on their disgusting behavior. When he called me his anger was palpable, and rightfully so.
Talking to my friend about it solidified the need to write this, if only to publicly state this fact: This behavior is NOT my America. This isn’t the America that has progressed so far since its inception. This isn’t the America that I am proud to live in, the one that espouses diversity and equality, regardless of age, race, sex, or orientation. This is becoming something that is against what everyone close to me believes this country to be about. It is up to each of us to fight against this divisive element that is rearing it’s head. We cannot tolerate it. We cannot allow it.
Where does that put us?
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I have all the answers. What I do have, though, is personal resolve. I refuse to let hatred, racism, or bigotry turn back the clock on everything that we as a country have worked so hard to accomplish. Our way of life is being threatened, and how we respond will define a generation.
If you’ve made it this far on this post, I want to personally thank you for your time. Reading one man’s ramblings, however, isn’t enough. Be the good. Be the love. Fight the hate. Know also that sitting idly while this happens in our country is an act of acceptance. Complacency is not an option. Now is the time for us to band together as Americans and let this putrid group know that we are one family….
…and no one messes with our family!