While many Americans like to claim that race isn’t a factor in daily life as well as in all situations I beg to differ. As much as many of us want it not to be it is.
But if you aren’t the majority, if you aren’t white, it does matter because you are constantly reminded of it.
Spend a day in my shoes for example.
Although visually my skin complexion is similar to that of a Caucasian, you can tell that there is something else that causes me to identify as “other” or have to check multiple boxes on any survey that questions my race.
Almost any time I meet someone knew I get the famous question “Well what are you? like what are you mixed with?” and almost in an automatic and robotic manner I respond “Half black, half white”.
Lately however I’ve been finding myself thinking “What does it matter? How is that information significant to this interaction?”
Simply put, it isn’t.
Every interaction revolves around race.
The other day my brother was pulled over for the first time in his life. He was speeding. I asked him afterwards if he was scared and what he told me next brought me to tears.
“Hell yeah, I was terrified. I put my hands on the top of the wheel and sat as still as I could. I asked the officer if it was okay for me to take my hands off of the wheel to grab my license.” The officer told him yes. “I told him I was going to move slowly and reach into my right pocket and grab my wallet, and that my wallet was black” The officer told him that was okay and thanks for telling him. “I asked him if it was okay for me to open the glove compartment and get the registration, I told him I would go slowly.” The officer then told him there was no need to be scared.
But I was scared for him. My brother had every reason to be scared. Why? because he falls into the minority, not the majority.
And not even a week later a family friend, who happens to be black, was shot in the neck, and left paralyzed during a routine traffic stop. He had no weapon.
Even a coworker of mine was telling me about how he had gotten pulled over on the way home from work and all he kept thinking was “how would this have gone if I weren’t white?”
If one thing has come out of Trump running and being elected POTUS it’s that it is making a lot of people actually realize how much hate and racism still exists today. It’s 2016 and while so many people claim racism is gone and have turned a blind eye, they can’t anymore.
We are all so conditioned to recognize race that we can’t ignore it.
And I’ll admit I’ve been conditioned to function and think that way as well. For example, the majority of my friends are black. If you ask me which race I identify more with I will tell you black. I would rather be educated and surrounded by those I more closely identify with because that’s who I feel most comfortable around.
I as much as anybody wish that race weren’t a factor. But let’s be real, it is. The next step for me is to figure how we close this racial divide. We don’t need to be color blind, we need to recognize each others differences but instead of degrading others for their differences we must celebrate them.
Educate yourself and try to understand, choose to love instead of divide and hate. Then maybe we will get somewhere.