Saturday, October 2, 2010

"We Are Human" via Resist Racism

Read the full post here
But they want a tour guide. They want to watch somebody bleed. Pain as entertainment.

“Can you share with us a time when you experienced racism and how you dealt with it?” she asks, her eyes bright in a flushed face. “What was the worse thing that ever happened to you?”

I stopped relating my experience when I realized incidents that cut me deeply became cocktail-party chatter for others. When I realized that doing so caused white people to have a sense of false familiarity with me. When I realized that they recounted my life as if it were their own, as if they owned it, as if they owned me. When I realized they did so not to make others feel my humanity, but to reinforce their belief in their own.

Picnic lunches beneath a hanging man.


And yet it didn’t really matter. I am reminded of this years later, when a white woman in an upscale department store glares and refers to two nearby children as “dirty little things.” She thinks they are mine and that I am not “controlling them properly.” I look to see two extremely clean, well-groomed, very wealthy appearing Asian children, a little girl and a little boy, who are laughing and talking to each other. I mostly hate kids and yet I can’t see anything wrong with their behavior. But I see it in her eyes.

Their reflection: Dirty. Little. Things.

I grow up to be an upstanding citizen who yanked myself up by my bootstraps. I did not waste my money on anything that I could be criticized for. No rims on the Cadillac. No car at all, for that matter. No luxury items, shitty food, second-hand clothing, no-name shoes and generic cereal and I did all the proper suffering, working long hours at lousy jobs while going to school.

So when I achieved what most people consider success, I bought the car, the clothes were new, I sometimes bought luxuries and I traveled to other countries. And I was an uppity person of color who got ahead through affirmative action and some other form of cheating because nothing I had was earned. Or deserved.

When I am flying overseas, I get stopped and questioned: How exactly is it that you have the money to travel?

I am suspected of criminal conduct simply because of where I am: A four-star hotel. A tony neighborhood. A professional conference. A business. The upscale department store. Any old store, for that matter.

I am suspected of criminal conduct simply because of who I am.

And I learn the hatred of white people who have less than I do. Who resent wealth and education and nice clothing and a beautiful home. Because somehow this is not how it is supposed to be.

Because I am not human.

Because they are not really colorblind.

Because we don’t really live in a meritocracy.

Because the content of my character has never influenced white people’s thoughts in the same way that the color of my skin does.

Because I can insist on my humanity until the cows come home, but it will mean nothing until white people discover their own.

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