Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Not to sound racist, but

Alright folks. Here goes.

I am not one to get up on my soap box for much of anything. I have hard opinions on things like... The damn toilet paper goes on the roll holder as soon as it makes an appearance in the bathroom. And, There's no reason to put sweetener in coffee. But you won't usually hear me talk politics or race or the death penalty.

Until now.

I grew up in a very vanilla part of the United Sates. Maine, to be exact. And while my step sister is in fact "mixed"***.. and I have several biological aunts and uncles that are "mixed"... I hadn't really come across anyone who didn't look just like me.

(***I am using the term "mixed" here despite the fact that I hate that term. Mixed? Mixed how? Thrown together in a pail and swirled around? What does that even mean??!  It's a common term that I just don't like, but I do not have a better way of saying "A "Black" man and a "White" woman got it on, and had lovely caramel babies." Because frankly, I don't even like to use the terms "Black" and "White". We're all God's children darn it.. Start acting like it. We're flipping "PEOPLE")

I digress.

White. Painfully white. Folks of deep French or Irish descent. And primarily Catholic.
My sister WAS the exotic participant in our local school system. Yet, I had never dealt with any form of racism until my twenties. I'm sure she dealt with some, no matter where you live there seems to be a group of people who just have hate in their heart and if you don't look just like them they will dislike you, but other than one incident involving an uncle calling her some sort of name and her clapping back with "It doesn't matter if I'm purple with pink polka dots...." (A quite vivid memory I may add) I just didn't know racism was a thing.

Now I live in the South.
With my Yankee mentality.
Learning to keep my mouth shut every time someone was ignorant was a very hard lesson. One that took years. I used to snap back quickly when things didn't conform to my own ideals. I would pout and fuss and just delete the mess and move on by myself. I had no time for anyone who didn't do things my way. And I sure didn't understand the fuss between colors. Like.. "What? Oh, yea.. His skin looks different than mine. Wanna get a pizza later?"-Me probably.

Well. You can't have that way of thinking down here.
I moved down south and was shell shocked into a culture that I had only read about in books. People are very VERY slow down here. Not just driving. (Don't get me started) But everything they do is done with the attitude that it will just get done when it gets done.
But they are slow in their thinking as well.
They don't like change.
They do it because their PawPaw did it this way, and his PawPaw and his PawPaw and so on. It worked for them, so it should work for me... Even though now there are new inventions that make this thing go faster and cost less money...

And don't get me started on the term "Christian". Where I come from it means a Follower of Christ. Where I live now, it means you don't worship Satan. It took me many years to realize that just because someone calls themselves a Christian does not mean they follow Christ. (Bible Belt??? Why???? I'm pretty sure most of the people I've met down here don't even OWN a Bible..)

Again.. I digress.

I have learned a lot about humans Americans since moving to the "Bible Belt".

Of all the things that I don't understand here, race is the big one.
I don't understand how all these people can go to church on Sunday and lift their hands to God, then go to work on Monday and use "The N Word" so freely? (Just for example)

One of the Pharisees once asked Jesus which is the greatest commandment, to which Christ replied "Love The Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment." Then He followed it up with "And the Second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22: 36-39 NIV)

Two. You've got two things to do. That's it. So darn simple. Just love everyone.

My daughter has an amazing Father and wonderful Mother. Her Mother is Black. Thus making my daughter "Mixed" (I cringe writing that...)
My daughter is gorgeous. She's everything that I wished my sixteen year old self was. Makeup game so strong. Amazing artist. Flawless dancer. Way smarter than her own good. Sense of humor beyond her years. And half black.

I can't relate to that. I can relate to everything else.. But I have no experiences to pull from here.
So all of a sudden at thirty years old, I became very aware of race and how the nicest of people can slip their racist mindset quietly into everyday conversation and never bat an eye.

Because their PawPaw did it and his PawPaw did it and his PawPaw did it... It's not wrong.

But it is.

I recently posted a very cute picture (OOTD if you will...) on my facebook page. It was my sweet son wearing shorts because here in the south it has been hitting the high 70's and back home... Well, they had a snow storm this week! I was slightly rubbing it in. ;)
The comments to follow this photo were strange.
Whenever someone starts a sentence with "Not racist but"... You can be sure the comment is about to get racist. And it did. It was a family friend from up north who wanted to rant about how "Them Races" bring crime and jump fences and they're thugs that rob you.
Folks. A picture of my two year old son in shorts brought on a day of fighting race and deleting most of my facebook friends.

I simply commented that I had no idea where he was coming from and I was done with that conversation.

After this mess, I had gone back onto facebook to look at some friend's pictures and saw a posting on someone else's account (Another Yankee friend who has never met more than five people that don't look like them) that said If you can't joke around with race, sexual orientation, or looks..... Then maybe you should just take the stick out of your butt and laugh a little."

Joke around with race?
This comment slapped me in the face.
All the years of folks fighting for equal rights... All the lives lost on all sides of Race Wars? The people who devoted their entire lives just to see black kids go to school?
This is something we can joke about?
If you are ignorant and don't know the struggle that Black people have gone through and are still going through today.. This comment may not mean a thing to you.
You may think.. "Dang, Fran? Is it that big of a deal??"
Yea it is.

A very sweet neighbor girl of ours is a friend of our daughter. White girl, probably 16. We let our daughter hang out with her because she lives so close and she appears to be a very sweet kid. We have never had any bad feelings about her and she has brought our daughter to church a few times.
No biggie. I would let her in my house any time.

Then my husband was taking a break from working one night around 12 am and he stepped outside for some air.

There is the young girl. In a group of teenagers just hanging out in her front yard. Laughing and chatting it up. Sweet moment. almost brings back memories.

Only.. In the midst of all the giggles and chatting he hears her voice plain as day. Throwing around "The N Word" like it was nothing. Like it was ok for her to be talking about another CHILD (Yea.. At 16 you're still a child. Get over it. You've got years to grow up.) in this manner? Who does this? Who teaches our children that this is ok?

Now.. If they were talking about a homosexual, the police would have been involved real quick. But they were just talking about another kid in their class. A Black kid. A kid not there to defend themselves. And I have to wonder.. Would this conversation be taking place if the child was standing there?

So while I'm really happy that you can look out your white window through a thick fog of ignorance to joke about race, I cannot.
The sad truth is, my daughter isn't growing up in the same world that I did. She is growing up in a world that tells her she is doomed to a life of multiple babies by multiple men. A life of living high on welfare.. Or rather, you paying for her expensive hair, and nails and steaks and ride.
These are lies. But to an impressionable teenager who is bombarded with these images her whole life, these are possibilities.
Keeping kids down by joking about such things is doing so much more harm than good. And it's doing just that.. Keeping them down.

How many kids on the street would be excelling in college if someone told them they could? Instead they are put in these little boxes and labeled "Thug", "Thief", "Ho", I could go on.

But I won't.
Not here.
My little blog posting won't change how races are looked at.
There will still be quiet slurs between mixed company.
There will still be young capable men looked over for jobs because they are a little too dark and may scare customers.
There will still be young women preyed upon as trophies, then tossed out with the garbage for being damaged goods and not good enough to take home.

I'm just a White mother. Wishing for a better world for her kids.

What do I know?

Now please excuse me while I go clean out my Facebook friends list.

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