This post is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. I’ve never been able to find the right words to accurately express how I feel until I heard a quote from Van Jones. He said, “We have to hear the pain first before we tell people they are wrong to hurt.”
Growing up in a white, middle-class family, I never thought much about the plight of American citizens who are not white. I never thought about it because I simply hadn’t experienced it. I never thought that someone would or should be treated differently based on the color of their skin and to be honest, I didn’t think much about it. It wasn’t a problem that I was met with daily, so it was easy to slip my mind. Fast forward to adulthood, being in a relationship with a black man, this is something I am faced with every single day.
Now, I’m not sharing this for sympathy or to start an argument. My main goal in sharing this experience is to shed some light on a problem that is easy brushed to the side by the majority.
In the almost three years that I have been with Freddie, I have learned that racism and racial discrimination is very real and very alive in America. How do I draw that conclusion? Well, I’ve experienced it. Walking in the grocery store, taking a stroll around the mall, even dining in a restaurant. What’s more disturbing is in the few short weeks that I have had my son I have seen it. That, more than anything, is why I felt compelled to write this post.
Just last week Freddie and I decided to go to the mall. I was desperate to get out of the house and we hadn’t been to this particular mall in a while, so we were interested in going and seeing what new stores had opened. Jacob was in his stroller and Freddie and I were walking next to each other. I looked up from looking at my beautiful son to catch an older woman looking at Freddie, making eye contact with me, then peering into my stroller with disgust. Her nose was scrunched up, her eyes wide and full of judgement with a grimace on her face. I couldn’t believe what I had seen. Why did she disapprove of my family? Why did she look at my beautiful baby with disgust? Why did she look at my biracial baby with disgust? Why doesn’t she understand that everyone is deserving of love? Why did she judge me so harshly just based off of the color of my fiancé’s skim?
I know what some people may be thinking, “Wow, this chick is taking a leap inferring all of that from one look.” Really though, I’m not. These are looks I am met with every day. These are looks I see when women clutch their purses tighter to them when they walk by Freddie. These are looks I see when the server walks up to our table and thinks they’re going to get a bad tip. These are looks I see every day, looks that couldn’t be more undeserving. Looks that are based off of only one thing, the color of my fiancé’s skin.
More troubling than the looks are the comments. I blatantly remember when we made a trip to Walmart, we had turned into the exit and I was walking quite a bit farther ahead than Freddie when an older man walked by me and didn’t say anything, but he confronted Freddie saying, “This is an EXIT! Use the ENTRANCE! Don’t you know how to read?”. Why was this comment necessary? Why wasn’t I contfronted with the same anger and degradation? Because I am white.
People are so caught up in wanting to deny the racism in this country, that they forget to listen to the pain of people who actually experience it. They don’t open their hearts and listen to the pain that minorities are confronted with on a daily basis. Instead, they tell them that they are wrong for feeling hurt because of one skewed statistic or another [insert black-on-black crime statistic here]. Why is it that you get to decide when people are eligible to feel hurt and when they are not? Why is it that because my fiancé is black he is suddenly part of these statistics?
Please, the next time you see someone, black, white, Indian, Asian, Hispanic, etc. just smile. We have to remember that we are more than just the color of our skin. We are all beautiful people with different personalities, talents, strengths, and weaknesses. So, the next time you look at someone who is different than you, I hope that you can remember that we are all beautiful and we all need to stand together to make this country and this world a better place. Most of all, please remember not to judge someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes. Things may look pretty black-and-white from the outside, but until you have experienced what they have experienced, please try to reserve judgement.
*Please know that any hateful comments will be deleted. You are entitled to your own opinion, but this is my blog and I am entitled not to share it.*