To my new friend


Racism seems to be a trending topic among some of my newly

found friends.  One of these new friends is a black author

from Brooklyn.  Her writing is very compelling and thought

provoking for me.  I spent the first half of my life as a

Military brat travelling the globe, living in other countries,

learning new cultures.  This is something I crave.  Growing

up, race was never an issue.  No one ever said to me “Hey,

that’s a black girl you’re playing with”. It never would have

phased me either.. my friends and I found common ground

among our likes and dislikes, not of color, but of interests. 

When I was eight or nine I wanted a black barbie so my

friend and I could play and she could have a chance to be the

princess.  I think this was my first encounter with racism.  I

recall, at a party my parents were hosting, playing with my

friend and over hearing one grown up tell my mother ” You

let her have a black barbie??” with such disgust in her voice. 

My Mother, being the lady she is smiled gently and

responded ” As soon as they hit the shelves.”  This left the

other woman with a wide-eyed, shocked expression.  I didn’t

understand at the time, and was confused as to why this

woman was so aghast at my beloved doll, my princess

Kenyata. 

 

Moving forward in my life to my stay in New Orleans,

Louisiana.  You see since I was 12 I’ve lived in the Southern

United States.  At 18 I took a job waiting tables at a hotel

downtown and met a great group of people who worked

along side me.  During one of the many rainy seasons down

here, I got off work and walked out the front door to head to

my car and ran into Mikey.  Mikey is black and washed

dishes at the time.  He had gotten off shift about 2 hours

before I did and had been waiting for his ride that hadn’t

shown up.  So I did what anyone would do and offered him a

way home.  We trudged through the pouring rain to the

employee section of the parking lot and as I was unlocking

my doors, Mikey jumped into the back of the pick-up truck .

“What are you doing Mikey??” I asked… his reply shocked

me to my core when he answered ” My Daddy always told me

never to get into a car with a white woman because they will

kill you for that.”  “That’s absurb Mikey, it’s pouring rain, get

in the truck” … ” Oh, no maam.  I appreciate the offer for a

ride home, but if I can’t ride here then I’ll just have to walk” 

So I drove Mikey home that day, in the back of my pick-up

truck and cried.  That night i could not sleep, who could?? I

kept asking myself how could racism be this prevelant in this

day and age in this huge city??? How could, in today’s world,

a man be mortally afraid to get a ride home??  My ten years

in New Orleans was a wake up call for me.  I did have other

experiences where racism demonstrated how alive and well

it is indeed, but none shook me up as much as my ride home

with Mikey.

 

I think for me, I just don’t get it?? My mind cannot grasp the

hatred others feel towards people because of color or

religion.  What makes us all so different??? I think what

bothers me most is seeing the hurt and embarassment that is

caused by someones racial slurs.  My heart breaks when my

new friend writes out of anger because public racial slurs are

being softened and new “racial phrases” are being created to

hide the “dirty truth”.  I too am angry that the line between

color cannot be crossed and overcome, that it is an invading

part of our lives that continues to separate and keep apart

relationships, personal or political. 

 

I too am angry that this dirty secret has been kept under hats

for far too long.  I’ve never been quiet when I hear an

injustice being served and it is being spooned out by the ton

right now and I will not sit back quietly and eat it. 

 

To my new friend, you are a beautiful woman with a great

mind.  I hope we can make a stand together against this ever

evolving hatred.

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5 Comments

  1. What a well thought out and written article …. I’m from Australia & work in a University – 2 of the most multicultural environments to be in. I was shocked when a new Chinese co-worker got racist phone calls at the Uni and abuse from locals near his new home. I just thought everyone was like me and enjoyed the multiculturalism. All we can do is teach our kids whats right and prevent racism in our local area.

  2. I am truly honored that my words could inspire such deep insight and an excellent post. I used to think that white people would never help to combat racism because there was no vested interest. I am so happy to be proven wrong on this one. I have met so many wonderful people who understand that hatred, in any form, is a detriment to humanity on a whole. You remind me of my college roommate/friend, a young white woman with a heart of gold. Through our relationship, we were given a rare glimpse of life through each other’s eyes. She was surprised to learn that the basis of black people’s fears were real and not just paranoia. The story you related about your friend and the ride home reminds me of that. I love your mother’s response to the black barbie issue. From the insight you’ve shown, she did a wonderful job raising you. I am proud to stand with you in combatting ignorance. Keep inspiring!

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