I remember growing up in school standing in the lunch line behind two very popular girls. As I patiently waited for my spot to reach the lunch lady, I heard one of the girls ask the other girl a question. She asked the other child who looked like me, why didn’t she like me. Of course, I immediately positioned my body so I could hear the bulk of the conversation. This was a question I wanted to know because it was odd always being the person being left out of conversations, celebrations and even down right hated at times. At least this is how I felt because to a young child all those things help to make up our social collage.
So, back to the memory! She leans in and tells the other girl that I wasn’t like them. I didn’t talk like them, act like them, or even look like them. Now this was a little confusing because I was most certainly black. My parents were black, my sisters were black, so how was I so different? Well, I guess if we entertain the not talking like them, perhaps there was a little validity in that comment. My parents wouldn’t allow me to listen to rap music and at the time I was growing up, rap music was popular. A lot of the slang that children used back in those days, I couldn’t use. Once again, the rule was to leave the extra at the door. I most certainly grew up black, but my parents raised me differently than most of the children, due to their age. My parents came from another generation which really focused on how people were perceived by the public.
All sorts of hell lived in my house, but the public never knew. As the students were saying I wasn’t black enough, my parents were teaching another lesson all together. They were teaching me about black limitations. So, when I came home crying over my favorite teacher who had just died in a car wreck the night before my world grew even more confined. I was told that I shouldn’t be crying for the white woman because she didn’t really care about me, add that on top of the you can’t be this or that because you are black ,and you have the perfect confusion sundae.
I had enough around the age of 18, so I left the confusing small town behind with all the confused people in it. Sadly, I see those same confusing outlooks being washed over the black race today. People are telling us that we can’t be Republicans because we are black, or that we can’t be racist since we have no control. I’ll calling out both ideas today because both are wrong. My parents preventing me from grieving over a white teacher was racist. I do not care what anyone tells me or you about racism because it isn’t a one race problem.
Racism is like a cloud that spreads over the world that brings down an invisible layer of confusion. It hinders the way we treat each other and perceive each other. It makes enemies out of people who know nothing about each other due to the stigma attached to the unknown group. Ignorance is the perfect environment for racism to grow. It’s like a perfectly lit breeding ground for misinformation and chaos. When we start seeing ourselves as people without limits race seems to disappear into the background. Does that mean all racist moments stop happening? Of course not, but it means we learn how to move through life without constantly tripping over the vines of racism. The vines in many ways are the obstacles that we place down. Perhaps, we tell ourselves that we will never be able to get the job because they are looking for someone who looks like her, he’ll never ask me out because I am not his race, or people who look like me do not live in houses like that.
Anyway, you cut it, hiding behind race creates invisible borders. Life isn’t about being boxed into any group, it’s about being able to weather storms. If you are looking for what divides us, look at those people preaching division. They are the dividers of the world, but that doesn’t mean we have to let them make us act out that way. As always think with your heart, it isn’t white, brown or black it’s just human. Don’t let certain ideologies pave your way just because it is a norm. Fight for understanding and the right to choose.
Don’t forget to check out Ariana’s cooking show.