Five year old me comes home from school to tell mom about my new best friend. “Her name is Heather and she’s Gewish!” Little me didn’t know the word. Mom corrected me; “she’s Jewish sweetie. She worships differently than we do.” I didn’t mind, she was my bestie! And she was; slumber parties, weekend shopping with our moms, and the haunted hayride every Halloween eve. During the week, she went to Hebrew school and on weekends, I, Sunday school. She came to my house for Christmas and I to hers for Hanukkah. Once her parents divorced, we lost touch, but she was my first white friend.
In my Middle Ages, my parents enrolled me in a Catholic school. I was the only black child in the class, but I didn’t care because that’s who I am. Turns out, no one cared, I fit right in and in 7th grade, my first kiss, yea, you guessed it, a white guy! High school was a different story. I was exposed to more minority school goers and it was AWESOME to relate to others with mamas that “ain’t play dat!!” My friend group grew and it was mixed; not once was I criticized. In fact, it wasn’t until I entered the work world when I realized racism is real and it exists. It goes to show you that racist behavior is taught.
Now, modern day blogger, full time sales consultant, deals with racism day to day and I expect it, but, I think I speak for black people everywhere when I say, “you just don’t understand.” I work in an affluent, predominantly white area, and although friendly, more often than not, I meet the person that is looking at my skin tone, or the fact that I’m a woman. I digress, this is about race. Years back, a customer walks in the showroom and I greet him, happily, in my normal “I’m speaking because I’m human” voice and tone. He was rude and didn’t answer when I asked if he needed assistance. I knew he was lying, but I smiled, said ok and walked away. The same man, walked over to a man and asked for assistance. My sales manager got mad at me, “don’t you ever walk away from a customer! And he sent me home…The next day, it was a different story when he realized the customer legitimately did not want to work with me because I was a black woman. Apparently, the two shared a joke at my expense that indicated he was racist. (that’s the story my manager told me) There was no doubt in my mind that there was no truth to that conversation.
Would you believe me if I tell you, there are countless times when people walk away from me to speak to the male, white counterpart.
Recently, I greeted a woman in the showroom. I introduced myself, asked if she had any questions or if she needed assistance. She smiled, said no, explained that her vehicle was in for service and she was just wandering. I said ok, no problem, and walked toward my office. Almost immediately, she was in the owners office, asking if anyone else was available to answer questions she had. She refused to look at me after that. When I explained this to a manager and how often things like this happen, he attempted to relate by saying “I agree, they look at me crazy because my last name ends with a vowel.”
Oh sir, how wrong you are to compare the social injustice of being Italian in America to being black in America!
I’m normally not the one to have the racial conversations with. I’m known to be a tad prejudice toward black people, when I so favorably coin Chris Rock by saying, ‘there is a difference between black people and n***as.’ We’ll have that conversation another day. But, I do love black people, despite being involved with a man that identifies 1/2 white. That does not mean that I don’t recognize that inequality toward black people is not alive and present. I’ve dealt more with it in the last 3 years of my adult life than I have in my entire life.
I told my manager, “Just because you have no direct issue with black people, doesn’t mean that another white person isn’t racist.” He agreed with that statement, but proceeded to still say, “I understand how you feel.”
I tell you these stories to let white people understand that we, as black people, feel social injustice on such a different level than you can ever relate to because of the history of our nature as people. You may be totally accepting of black people and I love that you are, but if by chance you are not, just know that it is totally wrong, inhumane and unlike Christian to judge other by the color of their skin.
“Judge not, by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” To the people like me, that love people, especially if they treat you well, keep loving how you love! The world could use a million more people like you.