Race Rant...and Education

Race.  It seems everyone is talking about it -- finally.  While I, as an individual, am glad this is happening, I think the topic needs more focus and understanding, and understanding only comes through education.

I will never know what it is like to be an Asian, Latino, Middle Easterner, or Caucasian, but the people of those races will never know what it is like to be Black.

How can I explain my frustration when some well meaning person points out how articulate I am or that I don’t “sound” Black.  How do Black people sound?  Do we all speak ebonics or speak slang?  Is there a certain quality to our voices that differs from other races?  No one’s been able to answer this question accurately, but I must say I sometimes refer to Chris Rock’s explanation of my “sounding White” -- it’s called diction and an education. 

I don’t know how to explain my feelings about racial profiling -- government sanctioned citizen harassment.  I’m a 53 year old Black woman that gets followed by security guards in stores, pulled over by police (especially if I have young Black men in the car with me) for no apparent reason other than illegal attempts to search me, my car and passengers in hopes of finding something illegal.

I tire of training people with less experience than I have who are promoted over me because I hit the proverbial black glass ceiling because I don’t have a degree, despite the fact that I have enough credits for a degree, was trained in my field (computer programming) by the United States Air Force and have worked in this field for 32 years.  Yet, the people I train (all White) have degrees in philosophy, art, or some other non-computer related degree and far less experience.  In these situations, I  am not discriminated against because I am Black (or so I am told), I am discriminated against because I don’t have a degree; the fact that I am usually the most qualified for the job is meaningless without a degree -- or at least this is what I’ve been told.

I am highly offended when people I don’t know feel the need to tell me how pretty I am to be so dark, but even more so from people who think they know me.  Am I not supposed to be pretty because I am dark?  I actually had a co-worker say that she never realized how pretty I was until she met my mother.  You see, my mother is light complexioned, and I look a great deal like her and because my mother was deemed pretty, I too, despite my chocolate skin, was deemed pretty.  

I tire of people who don't know me touching my hair.  Yes, it is soft and spongy and curly.  Yes the style is interesting, that's why I choose it.  People need to realize and respect personal space.  I'm not a random animal and I don't belong in a petting zoo -- so you're touching a stranger's hair why?

When my son leaves the house, I worry he may be stopped by police (and he regularly is).  About fifteen years ago, I had a younger cousin who was killed by police who thought his cool, new, black phone was a gun.  The shooting was deemed a justified accidental shooting, not police killing an unarmed Black man with a cell phone.

 I recall the stories of family members that were killed by Whites in Mississippi -- yes there were more than one of my family members lynched and my relatives witnessed some of them.

I recall being a little girl of 3 or 4 and my parents building a library in our apartment building basement because the City did not feel a library was necessary in the Black area of Chicago we lived.  So to compensate for this my parents built a library (see http://www.blogher.com/library-my-parents-built).

 I remember Mrs. Moody, my Black 5th grade teacher.  She spent the year teaching us everything she could because she did not want any of us to be left behind.  Ninety percent of Mrs. Moody’s 5th grad class (roughly 30 out of 35) tested on the high school and college level during standardized testing because of the efforts she made; efforts she felt were necessary because we were Black.  God bless Mrs. Moody, where ever she may be now.

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