Every day I wake up (still black)!

I cannot get away from the knowledge that my skin has more melanin in it than my white peers or neighbors. Every time a purse is hugged close to someone’s body when I enter the room or children are nestled close to their parents because I walk down the grocery store aisle, I remember that my skin has color and my hair is a bit more course than theirs.

I was taught from a very young age that I was to keep my hands out of my pockets in stores, make sure that my clothes were very neat and that I spoke with extra enunciation so that I would be more acceptable to white people who I may encounter, because they would be watching me from the moment I entered. This hurt my parents to teach us this. They wanted to teach us what any other parent tells their kids about not talking to strangers and basic life instructions, not how to avoid racists reactions based on our skin color.

On top of all of the issues that many Americans deal with such as body image and social status and keeping up with technological advancements, etc…African Americans are compounded by the fact that we wake up Black. Due to slavery, Jim Crow, media stereotyping and the fact that many people never have racial diversity in their social circles, we Blacks are feared and thought of as chronic thieves and sexually promiscuous creatures that steal children and kill for sport.

Predominantly African-American neighborhoods are called the hood and it is assumed that we are in a war zone environment dodging bullets,  passing hookers, slapping five to the pimps and gangbangers we pass along the way and just jivving our lives away.

I have never seen a real hooker or gangbanger. I don’t slap five, have never witnessed a drive-by or anything of that sort. I am so afraid to even buy a watermelon at Giant Eagle because all of the white people give me that “See they do eat it” look! I hate being judged before I ever get a chance to speak or act.

Before I go off on another tangent, my point is that my color and/or presence of it does not predispose me to media imposed stereotypical behaviors. Sometimes I just wanna be, without being a color or type. Can I just wake up? Can I just carry my cloth grocery bags like every other person without being tailed by security? I am not interested in children, so I am so glad that you hold little Cadence close to you, I wouldn’t want them to even try to follow me home. Can I step out of my nice Cadillac or Lincoln without you beeping the alarm on your Escort when we pass in the parking lot. I promise not to leave my luxury vehicle in or order to carjack you for your 85 Dodge.

Can I just live?

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2 Responses to Every day I wake up (still black)!

  1. missy40 says:

    Well I’m not sure where you live, but where I live I have not witnessed anything like that, however, I am white. But I nor anyone I know would never do anything like that. But like I have said in my blogs, no matter what the race, ignorance is among us and we will never escape it….but we shall rise above it. I feel the same way when I go into rich areas, I am not rich, but I sometimes get a look, like why are they here…it dosen’t matter to me…Myself and my family are not ignorant…so just be proud of who you are and don’t mind the ignorance!

  2. msnell2008 says:

    I thank you for your kind words and sentiments. However, I don’t expect you to understand, because you don’t wake up Black. I don’t pull the race card and I don’t assume that the world is against me, I observe the way that people treat me though and it becomes hard to ignore the way that people of my color are singles out. Here is an example…yesterday my mother, my Nana and myself went to the Marc’s store in Kamm’s Corner where my mother and I shop quite often. The police officer at the door had us to place our bags that we carried in from the store next door behind the customer service desk, while nobody else was asked to place their bags there. We witnessed White customers with their shopping bags in their carts walking around the store and when we left our bags were the only bags behind the counter. I asked the officer if that was a new policy because we had never been asked to leave our bags and he said that it was store policy in all of the stores. I live in Lakewood and have never been asked to leave my bags EVER. Another example is when I went to a Deb store in North Olmsted and my mother had to actually tell the mananger to hae her employee to stop following us because we were not there to steal. My mother explained to her that she understood retail and how it worked however, the employee was so obvious and she was going to obstruct sales instead of helping. This sort of behavior is not unusual and it is something that I experience on a normal basis. Some people may not even notice what they are doing, they may just think that they are living life as normal. Many people never interact with other cultures and only know what they see on tv. If you see Hispanics as robbers and housecleaners and immigrants in the media but never get to know one then you will expect them to mow your lawn and clean your house and have 20 tattoos. If you never know a Black person then you will think that we all have alot of kids, collect welfare and speak ebonics. BTW…ebonics is like an accent that any culture might have and it is a learned dialect. Slaves were brought here and made to learn a tongue that was not their own, they were not taught they had to pick it up in order to survive. People in 2010 still make fun of the things that were traditionally said as part of private conversations. We were stripped of all of our identifying traditions and ways, then we were given Kwanzaa! Irish people have St.patty’s and Italians have traditions, Native Americans have their traditions but we African Americans only have European copycat traditions and we don’t know where we belong. We are still outcasts societally and the world’s fosterchild. I am not accepted by africans and we were taught that it was shameful to want to be like them. There are so many pressures that go along with being a dark person that many people act out by being as ignorant as they can and then some of us try to be as conformative and normal as we can. My normalcy is often shattered by the woman who clutches her purse while I look through my Prada bag to pay for my purchase.

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