#SomewhereintheMiddle

All this talk about racism has been eating away at me and I really had to dig deep inside to figure out why. It was becoming more clear as I began to worry about the idea of even writing about it as a “white” woman. However, I have a blog for the purpose of sharing my opinion and therefore, that is what I am going to do.

First, let me share a little about how I came to be “some where in the middle”. Growing up around black people, I naturally felt a connection. I remember witnessing racism at an apartment building that my mom was the manager of when I was in the first grade. A racist white family started a fight with a black family. Their daughter was my best friend. I couldn’t understand why it was happening but I knew, I didn’t want to be like that “white” family.

In the 3rd grade we were living in a black community where I was literally the only white kid in my class. I didn’t mind but other kids did. I was bullied by kids who walked home by me all the time and even jumped by three black boys who were older than me. Thankfully my brother and his friend were near by and came to my rescue but then a huge fight broke out between the family of the black kids and the family of the Mexican friend who helped my brother defend me.  I thought, “this all happened because I am white”.

My best friend in elementary school was mixed but most of her family was black. They would call us “white folk”, and trust me that was not a compliment. I remember watching the movie Mississippi Burning with them and listening to anger and hatred towards white people. It really solidified in my mind that “white people” are bad and I didn’t want to be one.

By Middle-High School I was the friend that wasn’t “really white”. I was considered an honorary black person, at least by my friends. However it was the 90’s, as the Black Medallion movement was underway and it was not yet popular to be the odd one out. So many black people did not agree and I was bullied time and time again.

As a young woman with bi-racial children and black husband, I can tell you that racism is real. I have been pulled over and harassed while in a Cadillac full of black people. We were lined up against the wall as our car was searched. When I asked why they were doing this, I was told to shut up. No ticket was even given. The cop who told me to shut up was a black women. I felt anger and disrespect but on the flip side, everyone in the car, including me had a total disregard for the law and others at that time. We were lucky they didn’t find anything in the car.

Now I know many black people like my husband who have been harassed by the police for no other reason other than being black. He doesn’t dress like thug, talk like a thug and is one of the most respectful people I have ever met. Therefore, even though I am not surprised if he is pulled over, I have no fear he will be shot because his respect and cooperation would negate any kind of escalation. Side note: if we lived in the South, I would undoubtedly feel differently about his safety.

As for the #blacklivesmatter movement, when I see the criminals who are selling drugs, carrying illegal fire arms and being arrested for pimping (human trafficking), etc., standing side by side with law abiding citizens asking for justice, I hesitate to join. Of course black lives matter. The law also matters and we can’t just lump every black police shooting together because some of them are justified. I mean, can I just be real for a minute? Rodney King was not innocent. There I said it. He took the police on a high speed car chase, endangering the lives of everyone on the road. Then he refused to submit and follow their directions. We all know after a chase you better walk backwards and get on your knees, placing your hands on the back of your head. He didn’t do that, he refused. But I am supposed to say that he was victimized solely on his skin color? Reginald Denny was an innocent casualty of the riots that happened because of the “not guilty” verdict in that trial. This white man was pulled form his truck because he was white and between so badly in the streets that I am surprised he survived. So yes, “all lives matter.” If we don’t focus on all lives, then we can send the message that white people, or anyone who wears the uniform, are the enemy and taking those lives can be seen as justified to extremists. Look at the officers who are being threatened, shot and killed as a result of us not acknowledging that all lives matter.

In The Middle

Cause I’m different I don’t measure up?

Yes, I have had white people who disapprove of my choices and yes, there absolutely are racist white people, especially in the south. I am not taking away from that racism at all.  I am just shedding light on the whole truth. By far, the racism I have encountered over my life span was at least 75% by the black community; the community I love, the community I wanted to be a part of and felt more comfortable with. I don’t blame all black people for what I have gone though. In the same way, we can not lump all cops and white people together. I no longer feel shame about being white and I won’t be ashamed about speaking up about racism across the board because #mylifematterstoo.

 


 

7 comments

  1. Thanks for writing this, Becky. I agree with so much of what you have said. Even though I am an entirely different person with a different background than yourself, I still feel the need to add something. For the first five years of my life I grew up in a country where I was the definite minority. I even spoke another language and did not speak English. My brother translated for me so my my parents could understood me. When we moved back to the United States, it was in the deep south. I too, like you, identified with and loved black people and black culture. The school I went to was probably around 35% black and the rest white (middle school was 50/50). I also dated black women. Personally, I experienced very little racism in the south. While I absolutely know it existed, there were very few circumstances that racially came to a head. I spent my next 17 years there before moving out West. My personal experience is that I have never seen nor experienced more racism, segregation, and conflict than I have in California. And it only seems to be getting worse. I go back home (to the south) at least two times a year. I have many black friends and associates there and I never see the kind of division in the south that I see here. Maybe it’s because Southerners are just generally friendlier. I don’t know. I also see many more interracial couples where I am from than here. It’s just normal. That’s all I wanted to say. Our experiences are indeed different as are our perceptions, and I know both are valid…I just wanted to share mine. One thing I know for sure, the racial divide seems to be getting worse in this country and Obama (sorry for the politics) has not helped. I am so glad that wasn’t the case when and where I grew up in the seventies and eighties. I hope that you will speak on this topic more, because who better than you and your family? We need to hear from folks like you who live somewhere in the middle.

    1. I appreciate your experience and it is just as valid as mine. That is my point really, that we all have different experiences but we can’t allow them to represent an entire race of people or profession. Too many people are buying into the race wars. I was hoping to shed light on a situation which could have skewed my perception but I chose not to let a few bad seeds define everyone else.

  2. prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior:
    “a program to combat racism”

    racism can be a characteristic of all races and should not be assigned to one or two races. People are sinners and racism is part of their sin. All people are sinners.

    1. I completely agree. This blog was written because I have seen many articles written about “how white people should respond to the #Blacklivesmatter movement with their black friends”. I also see many of my Facebook friends commenting about “white people not being able to understand racism”. I was merely sharing my experience within these two races since they are the ones I see highlighted right now but racism is absolutely across the board.

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