Thursday, March 15, 2012

I've Got a Mirror and Eyes to See It

An email from a friend inspired me to elaborate on a remark I made about some white people not feeling comfortable around black people. When I was in elementary school one of my friends was having a sleepover. She didn't invite me because  her mom said she "didn't want me to feel uncomfortable being the only black person there." She may have meant well, or she may have been projecting her feelings onto me. God only knows for sure. For the first seven years of my educational life, I was the only black person in the room for at least six hours a day. Why on earth should that bother me? We all speak English. We all eat with utensils held in our hands. We all wear clothes. We all wear shoes. I'm sure you see my point.

My whole life that's been my take on things. Most of the time I go about my business, doing my own thing, while others do theirs. Occasionally I'll experience a situation that slaps me "black to reality". It's not that I forget that I'm black. As the title clearly states, it's hard for me not to know. It's that I forget that it still matters to other people that I'm black. There has been more than one incidence of my getting on the subway, sitting down across from an older white person, and watching as that person gets up and goes to another seat. I can tell by the look of disgust on the person's face that they're moving because I sat down. It would be a different story if I sat right beside them when there are so many seats to choose from, but I'm sitting across from them. How sad is it that a person has such an issue with me being in their line of sight, that they feel the need to get up?

You may think it's just older people who are like this, but I had an ugly incident with a younger person take place when I was waiting to cross the street one night. At that particular intersection, I know the cycle of the traffic lights and knew that the light would be red for a few minutes while traffic from the opposite direction got the green light, in order to allow the people on that side to make a left turn. As I was starting to cross the street, the light on my side turned green, so I went back to the curb. As I was standing there, a car drove by and there was a white teenaged boy hanging out the window. He threw something at me as he shouted "Fucking nigger!" Because he doesn't understand the laws of physics, whatever he threw missed me completely. Why such anger? I wasn't holding up traffic. As soon as that light turned green I scurried out of the way. I must admit that encounter shook me up a bit. I hadn't felt pure hatred like that directed toward me by a stranger in a very long time. Regardless, I still refuse to go through the world in a defensive posture.


  1. We've always felt more comfortable around black people than white people. TW's best friends in the building don't look like her. She's the one on the subway coming home from the game who'll answer when a young black man axs the score, when everyone else turns away. Yes, racism is still alive and well, more so now that President Obama is in the White House. One just has to see the disrespect the media and GOP show him to know that. We've never had a President that the press calls by their last name w/o preceding it w/his title. I'm sorry, you have to go through the pain of a few idiots. I better hold my tongue here. xoxo

  2. I'm sorry that both of you have to take this from idots. I'm happy to call you both friends, and if we lived closer I'd say let's go to lunch.

  3. This is really sad. I do not understand people. You should never have to deal with that and it is sad also because it seems these youg kids are learning ignorance from their parents. Some people just hate for the sake of hating... I really will NEVER understand. Good for you for not letting anyone push you down or make you fear daily life. I would like to be that strong :-)

  4. Reading this makes me cry. What an ignorant world we live in. You'd think that after thousands of years of human existence we'd have learned that we are all the same. Let me catch that tram and party with you ! Woohoo ;-)