On Race

The nation seems to be obsessed with three things these days. Race, gender, and sexuality. Three things that, in the grand scheme of things, shouldn’t even be a blip on the radar compared to everything else that’s going on. My personal belief is that a few very rich people have a lot to gain by diving this country and ensuring that no cohesive action will come as a response to a tyrannical police state, or an outside threat.

Today, I will be covering the subject of race.

I have been told countless times that as a white man, I have no place talking about race because I have not experienced that favorite buzzword of the racist left: Institutionalized racism.

I am white. I spent the first twenty-two years of my life living in black neighborhoods. Yes, those kind. The kind that have their own english-ish patois, the kind where people sit on the stoop all day and deal drugs. Basketball games might end in a shooting. I remember knocking on my friend Kareem’s door and his dad answering, looking at me with disgust, and saying, “Kareem. Your white friend is here.”

I remember, despite my desire for peace, love, and friendship, having to become a very scary guy over the years as a survival mechanism. I remember hearing them say nigger far more than I ever heard any white person say it. And no, the word nigga is not different. Don’t fool yourself. I remember, before my intimidating transformation, being called every white racist term that exists, and it being okay because there were a hundred of them and one of me. I also remember that after my transformation, only ever being called Big Mike.

Most of you reading will say I never really experienced racism because I am white. I’d say different. I’d go as far as to say that I experienced that consuming and disempowering form that is “institutionalized” racism. My best friend’s aunt got evicted from her building despite never being late on rent, and being told that it was specifically because she was white, and they didn’t want any whites in their building. I dunno what you think, but I think that looks like racism.

I remember seeing what happened to black kids who liked rock or country, or for that matter, anything besides gangsta rap. The black girls who, in a rare occurrence, were born with straight hair. White girl hair.

I, however, also remember being partially raised by a Jamaican woman named Etty. My (single) mom would go to work, and Etty would watch me all day among her own kids. I wasn’t treated like a white kid. I was just treated like a kid. There were positive experiences growing up as the whitest of the black kids.

These days, I see the group Black Lives Matter all over the place, wedging themselves awkwardly into every special interest group they can. Interrupting Pride parades. Taking over entire college campuses. Segregating some college campuses. You know what I see? The KKK, minus the lynching. The KKK wanted segregation. The KKK tried to hijack every platform they could.

The difference? The KKK wasn’t given a voice. They have their little rallies, but you know who goes to them? Other white supremacists. They don’t get to hijack other people’s rallies to try to get a new audience, because they’d get driven out. And rightly so. No racist group deserves a platform. So why, then, does BLM get a platform? Why have they been allowed to continue for this long, despite how overtly racist they are and now trite and outdated the concept of race even is?

If you are teaching your children things about race that are based on experience and your own slanted thoughts, you’re already perpetuating the cycle.

I was in Wal-Mart with my son once, and he’d never really registered seeing a black person before. He asked me why the man over there had brown skin. I told him that the man’s ancestors, like grandmas and grandpas, came from a place where more melanin in the skin was necessary, and explained that melanin makes a person’s skin dark. He was happy with that answer. I didn’t tell him some stupid story about how god cursed them. I didn’t tell him that black people were any different from anyone else. I didn’t want to create a preconceived notion.

In recent years, however, he’s learning to distrust black people. A number of black families live in our neighborhood, thousands of miles from where I grew up, and their parents apparently decided to go the other route when teaching race to their kids. As a result, my white son is treated differently by the black kids than he is by the white kids. That’s not the way it should be.

Racism goes both ways. It’s institutionalized both ways, too, depending on where you come from. It’s wrong, no matter which side you’re on.

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