Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day 🙂
It is apparent that Dr. Martin Luther King had a dream, one that he had hoped would happen with combating negativity with peace and love and not anger. Many of us were not born during the civil rights movement to know the kind of pain, the kind of “fight” black people had to put up, in order to find that equality, in order to call every nationality our brothers, our sisters. Many of us now are still fighting that fight in order to be accepted among other cultures and nationalities. People say they don’t judge, people say they only know of love, people say they don’t see color, but people show so much different sometimes. This blog post will discuss my fight, my obstacles, and how I managed to become the strong, independent, black woman I am today in a world full of so much hate, full of so much hurt, full of so much loss, full of so much tears and so much death.
For starters, I grew up in an all white community (Findlay, Ohio) but was born in Cincinnati Ohio. , being the only black female on my sports teams, my choir, my neighborhood, my school many times, and among my group of friends growing up. To me, it was normal, because I didn’t know anything else. I didn’t know what diversity really was because I was used to being in this small box, used to being the standout, used to being the dark face in a picture. I brought up and raised on love, acceptance and to be people’s friend because who they are and not because of how much money they had, what they looked like or because they chose to be different. My mom never taught hate, she never told me to be mean because they didn’t “look like me”, she wanted me to be polite to my elders and give respect to my teachers and make friends with people who bring positivity to my life and gave me a solid foundation to stand on my own when things got tough. The hardest thing for me was to stand on my own when things got tough & things did get tough for me, they sure did but don’t pity me, for what I am about to tell you is only to enlighten you on my life and give you my eyes for a day, my thoughts for a day and fears for a day. For none of this is worse than anyone else’s obstacles.
I believe my first bout with racism was when I was in 5th grade at Lincoln Elementary school in Findlay, Ohio. I was on the playground at recess, probably playing kickball or something and a school mate decided to call me “Nigger”, she was so sure of herself that she called me “nigger” more than once. I didn’t know what to do or say, I was not a confrontational child and I didn’t understand why someone would call me “nigger” when my mom always taught my brother and I to never say that word. In 5th grade you have an idea of what racism is, but because I was the only black kid in the school, I guess I thought it wouldn’t be such an issue since most of these kids I had knew since diapers. That same day, I cried. I felt defeated because while she was laughing at me and my weakness, I decided to do “the right thing” which was tell the principal, and my mom came to the school and in her mind I probably should have punched the chick in her face for being so damn ignorant but I didn’t. The principal dealt with it “accordingly” I suppose, she might have gotten suspended (I still remember her name, but will not mention for her sake). That same day I had to walk home and as I was walking home, her family and herself were in a vehicle and pulled up in front of me, to threaten me. Again, scared. I just allowed them to say whatever they had to say and waited for them to drive away before continuing home. This was my 1st bout with racism.
My second bout with racism was in 5th grade, but it was a little odd, some guy in my classes thought it would be funny to make jokes about black people and would say “nigger” repeatedly, not outloud for the teacher to hear but more like under his breath and in whispers.. and he would just say some really stupid things, that would make hardly any sense but for some reason he got off on that.. and I still til this day do not understand why – I don’t believe I ever told my mom about this incident nor a teacher but I wanted to many times because after awhile it just got unnerving and he was fucking annoying. I don’t think he was calling me a “nigger”, well I believe he did once but I ignored it, because after awhile you just get used to it, when someone makes it their mission to call you names that offend you because of your skin color. It hardly makes any fucking sense why his ass did this but he made it so it was an ongoing teasing game and I just ignored it all the time. Sometimes I wish I would have had the balls to punch him in the throat, I can only hope he has grown up since then.. or someone kicked his ass finally.
3rd bout with racism – 6th grade (middle school), I had a HUGE crush on this guy at school, for a while he didn’t know but man did I go “goo goo gaga” over him – he was like my ultimate crush, I swear I was all about him! haha. We weren’t friends but he was friends with some of my friends at the time, well one of my friends made it their mission to tell him that I had a crush on him because she knew him very well, and I didn’t really want her to tell him but at the same time I was like.. eh.. why not. I thought the most that would happen would be he reject me by saying he had no interest and then I would have to move on. WELL.. he rejected me alright but in one of the worse ways possible in order to make a point – which pissed me off and hurt me really bad. He said something about me being a dirty fence (referencing my color) and I was ugly and how he thought I was poop on a fence or something of that nature. I mean .. I guess when you have to choose between being called nigger, or being referenced as dirt on a fence or worse poop on a fence, you really don’t know which is worse; especially in a school where no one understood the hurt like I did, the way I did. He said it at the damn lunch table for everyone to hear too, which made me feel that much more beaten down. Some laughed and of course he laughed too, but I didn’t laugh. I didn’t find it funny at all. That made my self esteem really low.
My fourth bout with racism- Was in 7th grade, I played basketball and was on the basketball team, well I was the ONLY black girl on our basketball team. Which again didn’t bother me too much but I didn’t know very many people at this school, so it was different for me. In 6th grade I played basketball but my team didn’t give me shit about my race nor did the coach either. I actually was friends with some of the people on the team at the time and it made me more comfortable. Well 7th grade, I was kind of put on the spot multiple times. When a teacher is asking you what it is like to be in slavery and you don’t know the answer (and she replies with, how do you not know) .. or when the coach decides to not play you for the majority of the games even though you are good, or when someone references their tan comparing to your skin tone and making sly comments at you about “how they don’t wish to be that dark” and someone else telling them that they look black and they reply with “ew, no” ..
5th bout with racism- 8th grade, I had a coach’s assistant (classmate) throw salt in my hair in a bus so she could get a laugh at how the salt looked like bugs in “black people’s hair” – I don’t know.. I did nothing about it, again being a little bitch and wanting to fit in, I just let shit happen. My mom was pissed to say the least. I mean extremely pissed off. That probably made her blood pressure rise pissed off.
9th grade, being called a “black white girl” like sure this seems like it is okay, right? you would assume it is is okay, that people make this into a compliment. In their eyes, I was black in color but acted like a white girl (whatever this is supposed to mean) the ignorance was unreal.. and I not knowing any better or understanding just allowed people to make this reference, because they liked that I wasn’t the stereotypical black chick.. they liked that I was prim and proper and didn’t dress like I came from Compton, they adored that I had long hair and wore american eagle, they loved that my words made sense and all because of my color, I couldn’t be just Shay-lon, I had to be the “black white girl”.
10th and 11th grade. Mostly 10th though. By this time I had moved to Texas and attended a new school. It definitely was black people prominent but this didn’t make a difference because somehow I was still different in their eyes. The ignorance at this school was huge when it came to being a different kind of black .. god because I wasn’t raised in the hood and didn’t wear certain clothing or talk a certain way or walk a certain way or fuck all the black men in the school or because I didn’t have a HUGE ass or because my hair wasn’t fake and didn’t text like a gangsta or because I wasn’t a gang member or because I was wearing american eagle instead of baby phat jeans.. I mean seriously.. the ignorance was outrageous!!!! Black girls treated me like shit and for what reason? because I was different!!! my own fucking race.. had to talk down to me, make me feel inferior and make me feel unwanted in order to make a point about where I was from and who I was. The only love I got was when I was playing basketball, it was my outlet. Black guys were no better,, calling each other “nigga and negro” and me wondering why anyone would say that to another human being. I didn’t belong anywhere anymore.
12 grade I moved to Colorado and didn’t deal with very little to no racism and little to none ignorance. It was diverse and people were accepting of me at the school. I felt like I didn’t have to live in the unknown and didn’t have to question my level of worth because of who I was and what I looked like. It was a nice change.
When I moved back to Findlay, Ohio 4.5-5 years later. I transferred jobs and was the only black person working at the store after one black man was fired. I think for the most part I was treated decently, I don’t think people gave me too much of a hard time in that store when it came to race – at least not to my knowledge. When I got a second job in town, I had another bout with racism when a customer called me a “nigger”, and I was much older and much wiser, I gave this dude a piece of my mind and afterwards told my boss and started crying and was super pissed off. For the first time in my life, I stood up for myself – I was happy I did, because I was sick of being called something out of my name, sick of people thinking it is okay to do so and sick of letting it happen and not doing shit about it.
Since this time, my bouts have been slim to none. Doesn’t mean it won’t happen again, doesn’t mean my life was horrible, just means it took me a long time to finally accept me for me and it took me longer to stand up for myself. I have allowed things to happen because I was raised to love and raised to be respectful and raised to only fight when necessary and to be strong and be brave but many times over, I wasn’t brave and I wasn’t strong and I allowed people to make my race an issue, make my lifestyle an issue, make my clothes an issue, make me an issue. When the REAL issue was those people didn’t like me for me because they didn’t have the same kind of love in their hearts for others different than themselves. This was hard for me to write because it was long and it hit on things that angered me growing up. I know black people aren’t the only ones being bullied or called racist names, I know other cultures and nationalities get shitted on, but I am black and this is my story,
Martin Luther King Jr didn’t have a dream that we would abuse the word “nigga” and make it a thing for ONLY certain people to use but get mad when others start chiming in, he didn’t have a dream that our own race would turn their backs on one another because of how they looked or where they came from. His dream wasn’t to put down others who were different from ourselves, he didn’t have a dream that we would be in turmoil, he didn’t have a dream in hopes that racism, slavery, and hate would come full circle again. His dream aimed to unite people from different backgrounds, his dream was to get away from anger and hate and stem from love and peace, his dream was for people to see color but to not make light of it, his dream was for us to be BETTER people, to spread kindness, joy, love, equality, and give people a home no matter what race they were, feed them no what race they were, educate them no matter what race they are, and teach them about his dream and to practice what we preach. It’s too bad he isn’t alive now, because he would be proud to know that the world has gotten better since his death, but he would cry at the pain some still endure.
“I have decided to stick with love, hate is too great of a burden to bear” – Martin Luther King Jr.