- Politics and Social Issues
American Hate - Racism and Cultural Bias
Eric Garner's death was a tragedy
the likes of which I have never witnessed in living color before. Watching the video of him being choked to death in the street has brought on a load of emotions in me so strong that it is truly difficult to put words to. Even so, I'm going to do my best to do just that.
Racism in America is as old as the country itself. We all know about our history of slaves and slave owners, no matter how you feel about it. It is real as real can get, and it is high time for someone to speak up against the lasting effects of that time that still plague our nation. No, I'm not just talking about whitey, either. I'm talking about a 2 way (now a days, it's more like 10 way) double standard of hate, ignorance, and fear that has perpetuated a cycle of American self destruction for more than 200 years. In my opinion, we, as a country are on the verge of some heavy duty civil unrest. Personally, I would rather do my best to make a difference before it is too late.
My experiences with racism
are far more intense than you might think for a man who would stand up against it. I grew up in an impoverished community made up of mostly African Americans, and I can promise you that not all of them have love for their Caucasian brethren. I can't count the number of times I have been assaulted and threatened by an African American, which left me jaded for a very long time. There were only 4-5 white children out of 25-30 in my classes for the majority of the time I spent in the public school system. We were the minority. Which may well be why it became so clear to me in time why other cultures felt so strongly about the subject. Being persecuted for the color of your skin is no fun. If you haven't experienced it yourself, I definitely recommend that you take my word for it. It's one of the worst feelings you will ever feel in your life. It will change you forever.
The first time I had an incident with an African American who hated whites, I was 7 years old. It was the first day of second grade. I walked onto the school grounds to attend my classes, and never made it inside. A girl, yes I said it, a girl wailed on me for no other reason than she hated white people. She was far larger than I was, and apparently had been beaten viciously, because that is exactly what she proceeded to do to me. I had never known such hate before and was far from prepared to face such a thing. When she was done I was so ashamed that I left school and walked back to my home with my head held down. I couldn't understand what had just happened. I had never even spoken a word to her. I guess there was something about me being small and nice that gave her the green light to attack me. If it wasn't that, I really don't have a clue what motivated it. All I know is that no one even came to stop it or help me. She did all she could do to me at 7 years old and then walked away like it was no big deal.
That day and others like it at the school I attended had a lasting effect on my life. For years I had a deep seated hatred for African Americans. It made going to school in an 85-90% African American school district pretty freaking tough. I never wanted to go to school and when I did, I was scared to excel in my studies. Each and every time I decided to face my fears and participate in class, some other child felt slighted or insecure and there would be a hefty price to pay as soon as a teacher wasn't looking. It was hell.
That type of racists interactions
continued on for many years afterwards. I can't remember a single year that I went to school when there wasn't at least one or two really hate filled black kids who found no greater pleasure in life than to harass and beat up a white kid. I never understood it, and honestly, I still don't to this day. All I can do is bear witness to my experiences, so that we might all find a way to live in harmony.
The day every thing changed
As hard as it is to say, I was trained to be a victim from a very early age. Things at home weren't much better than the stuff that was happening at school, so I never really felt comfortable anywhere up until I was about 12 or so. I was raised much like a male Cinderella, with 3 step brothers who derived as much pleasure from beating on me as the black kids at school did. However, they were white. In time, I began to realize the problem I was dealing with was not solely a racial problem. It was a cultural problem. A lot of poor people exhibit poor actions and attitudes, and they were around me in every direction I looked.
After years of being abused by so many different people, I was in a very messed up state of mind by the time I turned 12. I was either scared of or hated just about every person I met. It seemed I didn't have a friend in the world. I became severely depressed and soon began toying with the idea of suicide. One cold winter morning after a blow out argument with my mother, I had finally had enough. I took a steak knife down into the woods and sat down beside a tree. I sawed at my wrists for what seemed like forever. Fortunately for me, I wasn't familiar with razor blades at the time and I just wasn't able to exert enough pressure onto the steak knife to do any real damage. It didn't matter. I knew I wanted to die.
That type of thinking and behavior went on for quite some time. Then, one day, I finally found a friend and it was the last person I would have ever expected. There was an African American girl who lived around the corner from me. She was in the academically talented program, and her mother was a counselor. For now, I'll call her Tammy. Tammy was one of the kindest souls I have ever met, and she was cut from the same cloth as her parents were. Hard working, intelligent, emotionally understanding cloth that again changed my view of the world forever.
It wasn't long before I stopped bothering going home after school. No one seemed to want me there, anyway. I would go to Tammy's house instead, where we would eat healthy snacks (the kind my parents didn't have the money for) while playing on her computer and talking about how hard things were for me. She helped me with my homework ( which I didn't do when I didn't go to here house) and gave me the support and encouragement I had rarely had from any person other than my mother. However, my mom had become so engrossed in pleasing her new husband and his 3 children that she didn't really seem to have any concern left to share with for me. That lack of understanding eat away at me, and I truly believe that Tammy's friendship and compassion saved my life. I'm pretty sure I would have found a way to end it if things had continued on the way they were. It was that bad.
As time passed
Tammy and I grew apart. When 7th grade ended, we moved to Junior High and there weren't any more academically talented classes. It was now AP classes, and I was so far gone that even though I had a genius IQ, I didn't have the will, motivation, or discipline to even attempt such a thing. I quickly began failing out of school and my life began to unravel.
At this point, I found a new friend. This time, it was a white male who was a few years older than I was who also lived in my neighborhood. He and his parents were very similar to Tammy and her parents, except these folks were the same race as I was. They were probably the first Caucasian people in my life, outside of my blood relatives, who accepted and cared for me. Their names are not important to this hub, so I'm not even going to use a pseudonym. I'll just say that there are also good white people in this world, and thank God that I found my way into their lives. They took over where Tammy left off, and helped me stave off the incredible depression that I found myself in over and over again. They, too, were instrumental in me getting through my childhood alive.
It's been a wild ride since then
I have seen sunshine and rain, and seen them both by the dump truck full. Yet, I have never forgotten the kindnesses extended to me by these two very different families, and I never will to the day I die. Both of those families and all of the people like them are the real inspiration for this hub. People such as these deserve to be recognized. There are good and bad in every bunch, no matter which race you decide to cast your gaze upon.
Those same folks are also why it bothers me so badly to watch other Americans continue to hate each other for their genetic origins. We all share DNA so close that it takes a scientist to see the difference. Many amongst us are holding on to outdated information and spreading that ignorance around so frequently that it is becoming a plague.
Between that plague and watching 6 white male police officers pile on top of Eric Garner and apply a choke hold that lead to his death, I have had a fuse lit in my heart like I've never known before. Listening to and reading the hateful comments online about the incident from both sides disturbed me on the deepest level possible.
Then today, I had the final inspiration I needed to write an article like this one. I read the story of Lennon Lacy. A good young man from a family of decent people, who were being ripped apart in a forum because they are black and wanted justice for their son's murder that was ruled a suicide. If you know the facts, any reasonable person can see that foul play was involved.
We have come way too far to continue to pull each other down and apart because we are scared of the other races due to the fact that we don't truly understand them. It is time to come together. We no longer have a choice. It's now a matter of survival. If we continue to destroy ourselves from the inside out, we won't be strong enough to stand up against those who would actually do us harm. From the middle east to North Korea, we are at no shortage of detractors and hate filled people who would harm us all simply because we are who we are. I can't see a single good reason why any one of them should be an American. It's time to step up and show the world what we are really made of.