A Shade of Brown
Did you know the U.S. is roughly 60% white, 18% Hispanic and 12% African-American. If African-Americans make up such a small percentage of the population why is it we SEE them so much on crime related issues? Why do we HEAR so much about a black man committing said crimes. By design perhaps? Prison Industrial Complex?! Targeting a small percentage of the population to instill fear? If my whole life I was told purple people are dangerous - you better believe if I ever saw one that will be my first thought without even trying to get to know them.
Why do I mention these statistics and disheartening observations? Because as an African-American it occasionally runs through my mind surrounded by white people. This is something white people may never have to go through. Our society has put a general label on my skin and being cognizant of this - it’s hard to shake. Not saying every white person I cross paths with is a racist or thinks I’m going to kill them. In fact, I’d like to think I pose no threat whatsoever. Still, with this highly respected image of myself, I catch myself asking “Are they racist?,” “Are they going to be rude to me?,” “Are they afraid of me?,” “Do they think I’m going to steal because I’m black?” Now, disclaimer, this does not occur with every white person I encounter. Specifically, older white males (especially country ones) provoke thoughts of “Are they racist?,” “Are they going to be rude to me?” White youth and white ladies provoke thoughts of “Are they afraid of me?” And some white store workers provoke “Do they think I’m going to steal because I’m black?” Now like I said this doesn’t happen all the time but it still occurs which is saddening because I’m the type of person that likes to give everyone a fair chance. I still do even in these cases, but if given the opportunity to talk to these people my guard would in fact be up (a guilty until proven innocent kind of situation) and that’s too bad.
A lot of the activities I like to partake in, and where I’m located, create an environment where it is predominately white. Now this is due to multiple reasons but the biggest is white people have had access to a lot more activities for a longer period of time in the United States. For a long time in the U.S. people of color were rejected, condemned and forbidden to explore certain areas.
“This land is your land” except this, this, this and that.
I’d like to shed light on my experience being surrounded constantly by white people and the only black chica for miles……it’s weird. Not bad, not good, just odd. I’m so used to it these days I just block it out and pay most people no mind. Occasionally, I’ll take a step back and observe the amount of white skin I’m around and that’s as far as the observation goes. No one asked to be a certain color skin and no one today sure as hell didn’t aid in the monstrosities this country has endured going all the way back to the Native Americans. We can’t let skin color (WHICH IS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT) tear us apart and instead we have to let our common earth-dwelling selves be our common ground.
I get stared at a lot. I’ve gotten used to it. In the beginning I could feel the eyes but would never look back at them out of feeling insecure, vulnerable and scared. Now, if I notice someone staring at me I just look up and 10/10 they’re either surprised, happy and/or fascinated. To be honest, I’m the same way if I see someone with Native American features. They are beautiful and I just want to take in as much beauty as I can - and I’m sure this is the same others experience when they see me.
So hey, no hard feelings!
Of All Trades,