Posts Tagged ‘race’

Words Fail Me

February 20, 2009 6 comments


Dear New York Post,


The copy editors saw nothing wrong with this before giving it the OK to print?

If that’s the case, then you (the management) completely deserve the shitstorm headed your way.

Maybe you (the artist) thought you were being witty because of the recent chimpanzee mauling and how you thought Obama was crazy? Apparently you’re pretty short-sighted since it never occurred to you that likening a half-black president to a monkey was a very very bad idea.

I could ask why the cartoonist thought this was funny but I’d probably just be more infuriated by the answer. Quite honestly, I didn’t believe my mother when she called in full rant mode about this. I didn’t think any major paper today would actually be stupid enough (not naive enough to think no one would think about it, just that the collective staff was smarter) to not pull the plug on it. Then I saw it myself this morning.

Congratulations, you made a self-proclaimed motormouth speechless.

When the only reply I can make to my mother’s tirade on the evils of white men is that it was one idiot, a response which sounded weak even to my ears, then the line has been crossed twice. I could go into how despite the fact that this was the action of one man, it reflects poorly on a whole group of people but I just don’t have the energy.

Sometimes, there is really nothing you can say.




Our Land

January 20, 2009 7 comments

“This land is your land.

This land is my land.

From California to the New York islands

From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters

This land was made for you and me.”

I sat in my living room with my friends watching, utterly transfixed, as Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. I had known this day was coming since November 5th but I was still taken aback as I watch the absolutely record-breaking crowd at the National Mall during President Obama’s inaugural address. This is really happening.

And what made his speech even more powerful was that he addressed to not only the 300 million-plus crammed into the city or even the millions watching on televisions across the country but to people watching across the world. He reminded us all that now is the time to take responsibility and do our own parts in making change possible. That opportunity is a dare — not a door.

I watched, me and my friends largely snowed in, when Daybreak asked why I began crying silently.

I explained to her how I grew up hearing stories about how in my family’s time, they were not allowed to go to the same schools as white children. That they had different restaurants. That they were required to give their seats to a white person.  That to see this man become President, one of the most powerful men in the world, was something that must have my passed family members smiling from Heaven.

I told her how proud I was of this country and how hopeful I was for its future. That I was ready and willing to do my part to help it prosper so that the children now, like her, would have an even better life than I did. And then I told her something that I hope she keeps with her for years to come.

That if you have the ability, there is little to nothing you cannot do.

This child — this blond, green-eyed child — nodded before snuggling back down into my lap while everyone else in the room tried to act as if they hadn’t been listening as well.

It won’t be easy, nothing worth doing ever is. But for those who will come later I fully believe it is worth the effort to change the way things are done in the economy to law-making to foreign policy.

We’ve come so very far.

But we still have so very far to go.

"I Have A Dream Today"

October 23, 2008 8 comments

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

On August 28, 1963, a pastor in his mid 30’s, gave an awe-inspiring speech to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He expressed his desire of a future where black, whites, and other groups could live together in harmony. That man, of course, was the Reverend Dr. King himself.

I grew up on stories of the Million Man March. The Godmother has shown me pictures of her, Uncle E, and Aunt J on the lawn of the Lincoln Memorial that day in August. My Grandpa told me stories of Klansmen coming by one day to cause his father trouble when he was a boy on their farm. I’ve heard the stories of the Civil Rights Movement from people who lived it. People who always reminded me to make full use out of every opportunity afforded me as things were not always so.

In the 45 years since Dr. King shared his dream, things have changed greatly. The fact that I write this as student at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill is proof positive of that. However, we still seem to struggle when it comes to how we treat people in our everyday lives.

Mom: “Have you voted?”
Me: “I went earlier today after class.”
Mom: “Did you vote for Obama?”
Me: “Can you really see me voting for a Republican?”
Mom: “Good, you should see our neighbors now. It must drive them crazy that we’re voting for him.”
Me: “That’s because our neighbors are Republicans for some reason. One I don’t really pretend to understand. I’ll have to ask next time I come visit.”
Mom: “The only reason they’re voting for them is because they’re white and don’t want to see a black man as President.”

I remember last year when people said race would not be an issue in this election. I also remember thinking, “if only that were true”. My mom cannot conceive of any other reason why someone would vote for McCain other than they’re racist. Is this true for some? Experience tells me yes. But I can’t believe it holds true for every single McCain supporter. If that’s true then apparently The Bait, Tinkerbell, Dolly, Pippi, and a vast majority of the people I go to church with are all closet racists.

I flashback to last week and to how put off I was when that woman decided the only reason I was voting for Obama was because he was (half) black. I try and explain to my mom that I’m not going to assume that’s the only reason a white person would vote for McCain. She came right out and said I had no idea what racism was like.

I remember being called a halfie and blue-eyed monkey as a kid for my eye color.

I remember one jackass telling me the only reason I made it into Advanced Placement classes was because I was a nigger who needed a helping hand.

I remember my first, and only, blind date looking disgusted upon meeting me and uttering, “oh, I didn’t know you were black.”

I remember Tinkerbell telling me about how her father said he’d rather she be gay than date a black guy.

I remember the many, many arguments I’ve had with my Grandmother over the fact that I trust a white person enough to date them and should know better.

I remember my cousin expousing how much he hated the white man and all he represented and wondering how in the world I am related to this man.

I remember the time a woman threatened to pepper spray me because I was walking back from a test at night and was trying to move past her to the lot where my car was.

I remember going to a certain music store that was fairly crowded when I came in and being watched like a hawk the entire time I was there in the fear that I might steal something.

I remember the rage and despair I felt as I had to explain to the girl who is increasingly becoming my daughter, still shy of four years old, what the term “nigger lover” meant.

Oh yes, we have come far since the days of Jim Crow. We have come far since 3 little girls died at 16th St. Baptist Church. We have come far since Little Rock. We have come far since the sit-ins and boycotts.

But I know we still have a ways to go.

Some people would tell me that it will never change. That people will always judge based on appearance. I have to hope for something better. The alternative is to become that which I rebelled against since childhood. That outcome is unacceptable. I believe that it can change. I don’t see racism as “just natural”. I believe we as a species are better than that.

I have a dream that one day racism will be a thing we will look back on and uniformly see it as something the ignorant people of the past held onto and something that has no place in the future.

I have a dream that one day the words nigger, cracker, chink, spick, and all other slurs will never be heard again.

I have a dream that one day I will be able to walk down the street in old jeans, a black hoodie, and hat with my hands deep in my pockets and not have a single person wonder what I am up to.

I have a dream that one day people can see each other’s worth based solely on their words and actions and not look to race to explain why good or bad things happen.

I have a dream that one day we will all believe “all men are created equal.”

I have a dream today.

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Thank God For Patience

October 16, 2008 8 comments

So for those who haven’t heard, early voting started today in North Carolina. Between people eager to vote for someone they believe will deal with the economic crisis or those who just wish to avoid the sardine-style lines at the polls on November 4, there was a decently sized turnout by any count.

Here I am, wearing a polo shirt, khakis, and my work shoes, just wanting to get home and into some comfortable clothes when I see these two women wearing McCain/Palin paraphernalia. T-shirts, visors, buttons, the works. Thanks to my Nana, I am (most of the time) unfailingly polite to people older than me. So when these women ask me if I would show support for McCain, I didn’t follow my first instinct and laugh in their faces.

Me: I’m sorry ma’am but I do intend to vote for Senator Obama when I actually get to the polls.

Woman #1: Sir, all we ask is that you listen.

Me: I have no problem with that Ma’am.

Woman #2: Did you know that Obama supports abortion?

Me: No Ma’am I did not know that. I thought he just supported the right to the option.

Woman #1: They are the same thing in God’s eyes. He doesn’t care about an unborn baby’s right to live.

Me: And a child born of rape or incest, or what if the mother is not physically capable of bringing the baby to term? What then?

Woman #1: That is not the child’s fault. It should not be punished.

Woman #2: Do you support abortion Sir?

Me: The idea makes me ill Ma’am but I support a woman’s right to choose. I believe, like Senator Obama, that supporting the decision in Roe v. Wade is the only way to avoid the back-alley abortions and needless deaths stemming from that.

Woman #2: I suppose you support marriage for gays as well?

Me: Fully. I believe in the line of the Declaration of Independence that says we are all entitled to the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I would proudly stand beside my friends as they say their vows and look forward to the day they won’t have to travel out of state to do so.

Woman #1: But God declared marriage should be between one man and one woman. How can any God fearing Christian support anything else?

Me: I don’t fear God Ma’am, any God I should fear seems petty and thus I will not put my faith in him.

Woman #1: Sir, you must see that Obama will run this country into the ground.

Me: Ma’am, you must see that we’ve been run into the ground for the last 8 years. It’s time for a change of pace.

Woman #1: You’re young though, what do you really understand about politics?

Me: If I were supporting Senator McCain and Governor Palin, you would not ask me that question so please do not subject me to double standards.

Woman #2: So are you voting for Obama because you’re black?

Me: No, prior to his dropping from the race I was supporting John Edwards. Are you voting for Senator McCain because he’s white?

At this point, they both got offended and walked off. Sometimes I have to marvel at how much patience I have.

It’s sad but I’m ready for this election to be over.

I’m tired of mudslinging and name-calling. I’m tired of listening to my mother say only a racist white person would vote for McCain and I’m tired of hearing the only reason a black person would vote for Obama is because of his skin colour. I’m tired of hearing Obama called a terrorist. I’m tired of hearing about Palin’s family (especially her daughter) in the news. I’m tired of all the pettiness and all the stupidity. I’m tired of often feeling ashamed of my country. I want to not care anymore. But I know myself well enough to know that isn’t going to happen.

I’m just tired.

Ralph Nader in 2012 anyone?

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Mmm Brains…

October 5, 2008 2 comments


Created by OnePlusYou – Free Dating Site

So according to this, I have a 63% chance of surviving a zombie apocalypse. For once, the black guy may not die. Before anyone says it; no, Night of the Living Dead doesn’t count. He still dies, just not from zombies.

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Poo On Them!

October 4, 2008 1 comment

Yesterday was supposed to be a fun day of me spending time with Eva and Daybreak. Walk to go see Igor as the theatre is only four blocks from their apartment and then go to Ben & Jerry’s. The movie was funny and Daybreak has now asked for a stuffed version of Igor for her birthday.

It was a nice scene. Daybreak was holding our hands with me and Eva on either side of her. Me and Daybreak were talking about what flavour of ice cream was better, strawberry or chocolate. Just as I am getting her around to the wonders of strawberry, Eva breaks in with this line:

“There is nothing like vanilla ice cream on hot apple pie.”

Green eyes meet brown and we came to an accord. Vanilla was clearly superior this day.

Now I’ve learned something about Daybreak. Even if she has her own food, she will want some of yours. If you deny her, then she will get creative about it. She was trying to lick some of Eva’s vanilla cone when she stopped and looked at her mom like she had a question.

She starts looking at the table more than us and slowly asks a question that broke my heart to hear.

“Mommy, what’s a nigar lover?”

Eva turns wide eyes to me and I slowly try to reboot my brain from its 404. I was praying in my head that I heard her incorrectly. So I ask where she heard that.

She tells us how during the movie, she heard these two old harpies talking about how wrong it was for a sambo and his trashy nigger lover to be together. These were not her exact words but they were close enough that we both understand what those women had meant.

We had to explain to a child, not even four years-old yet, that some people would not like me and her mom together.

Daybreak: So people don’t like you and Papa together because Papa’s black?
Me: Sadly, yes.
Daybreak: But isn’t it good that you, Mommy, and me aren’t all the same? It makes us not boring. They shouldn’t call you names.
Eva: Yes it does Sweetie.
Daybreak: Grandma likes you and Papa. Aunties Three like him. Why don’t other people?
Me: Because they’re blind.
Daybreak: Well poo on them!

She then proceeds to crawl into my lap and give me a very sticky ice cream kiss on the cheek. Turning to face the rest of the shop, sh proclaims she loves her Papa and that anyone who didn’t like it could go eat poo. Please note that this was at the top of her lungs.

One older woman actually came up to us and said we were raising a very smart child who other people could learn from. Eva looks right at me and says, “yes we are.” The rest of the night passed without incident.

As she was helping me make breakfast for Eva, she looked up from the pancake batter she was mixing and said that she hoped one day people could be happy for me and Eva like she was.

I love the way children think.

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Just Call Me Black

September 30, 2008 1 comment

Why am I called African-American?

Does that not imply that I was born in Africa?

As far as I know, the last member of my family to come to this country came in the spring of 1937. She came from Spain to escape the war and I would go on to call her Nana.

Beyond her, I know my family had been here since the 1850’s so where does the African part come in?

Why not just call me black?

Is there some anger about it somewhere that I don’t know about?

Nigger, I understand. Negro, I understand. Coloured, I understand.

But black? I don’t get it.

I honestly don’t.

I was eating dinner with Eva, Imogen, and Ruth at Imogen’s apartment when this topic came up. Eva and Imogen are white. Ruth is Indian. And you know what colour I am.

They just call themselves white or simply American.

She can honestly be called Indian American as she was born in New Delhi and lived there until she was 15.

So why do other black people get angry when I say I’m black, not African-American?

Someone please explain it to me.

Marching to the beat of my own drum,

The Odd Duckling

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