What It Means To Be Black In This World…

 

Hello, welcome to my blog!

As a young girl, I went to a predominately white prep school. I was one of four black girls in my graduating class. My whole life I grew up believing that I would be judged as an individual. I believed that people would see me for who I was, not the color of my skin and not my gender. I grew up in a bubble, where I was conditioned and protected from the harsh realities of the world.

The Summer after I graduated high school, I went to visit my friend who worked at a local pharmacy. I went into the pharmacy and saw my friend working at the counter. She asked me if I had a job lined up for summer, I told her that I did not. I was still searching and I intended to enjoy as much of my summer as possible. Nevertheless, my friend insisted that I speak with the manager about a possible summer position. Before I could object, she called the manager over and told him that I was interested in a summer position. Not wanting to be rude, I obliged and told the manager that I would be happy to have a summer job. The manager proceeded to ask me what year I was, I told him I was going to be a freshman in college come fall. He looked at me and said very casually, “to be honest, I would really prefer to hire someone who wasn’t about to go to college, that way they could work through the fall.”  I politely thanked him for his time anyway. I trusted him, it was understandable that he would want an employee who could work throughout the school year. After all, my friend had been working there all year-long and it would be nuisance to have to train me when I would only be working a few months anyway.

I was naive. Months later, I was sitting in the car with my same friend and I asked her how her job had been. She said to me, “my job is going well, except my boss keeps hiring all these new people!” I looked at her with bewilderment, “yes, my boss keeps hiring all these seniors for two months before they go to college.” I can’t even explain how I felt in that instant, it was as if I was hit with my first dose of reality, my first dose of blackness. I told myself that I had asked about the job months earlier, maybe he had changed his mind and decided to hire seniors after all. Then it became apparent to me that in all my times in that pharmacy I had not once seen a black employee…could it be true? Maybe I was completely wrong. After all, people couldn’t still be racist in this day and age. I’m a hard worker, he wouldn’t just judge me based off my skin color…not me.

I was still in denial…Did he really just not want me to work in the store because I was black or was I just making something out of nothing? I’ve never been one to play the race card. I felt uneasy and unsure, but the thought lurked in the back of my mind continuously… Is this what it feels like to truly be black in this world?

I kept the incident to myself, I felt insulted and violated.

One day (five days before Christmas) my mother came into the house agitated. “What’s wrong?” I asked her. She told me that she had gone to a pharmacy to look for a gift for my father and she didn’t receive good customer service. She told me that when she went into the store, no one would help her. The woman behind the counter wouldn’t even look at her. It wasn’t until my friend, who happened to be working over Christmas, came out that she received any help at all. Even after my friend greeted my mother and proceeded to help her, the other woman wouldn’t even look at her, she wouldn’t show her where any of the lotions or body oils were, nothing. Whenever my mother asked a question, the woman would never speak directly to my mother, but only to my friend. My friend was white, my mother was black. My mother finally became agitated by the poor customer service, thanked my friend and left the store. When my mother told me the story, I told her not to be too upset because something similar had happened to me. I told her about my experience with the summer job and that it wasn’t her fault. I now knew that what had happened to me wasn’t just in my mind. I had received my first extreme dose of racism. Is this what being black is like in the real world?

I realized that my whole life, I had been in denial and sheltered from the realities that I would face as a black adult in the real world. I grew up in a suburban neighborhood, I attended one of the best prep schools in my city and thought that all my life I would be treated as an individual and respected for who I was, not what color I was. That day in the pharmacy, I was brought into reality. I came out of my sheltered existence and realized…many people in the world will never see me for me. Some will truly just look at me and the only thing they will see…is my skin color.

I wondered how I could have missed this…how could I have been so naive to truly believe racism was a thing of the past. After all, it had been around me, my whole life. I began to think about all my experiences in my prep school. It occurred to me that while I sat in my bright, spacious prep school with a computer lab, wireless internet and a surplus of teachers, not more than 5 miles down the beltway, children sat in overcrowded classrooms with old textbooks, no computers, no wireless internet and not enough teachers, but more than enough metal detectors. I thought to myself, those kids live so differently than me, we seem so different, except for one obvious thing…we share the same skin color. We are both black. In fact, MOST of the children in THOSE underfunded schools are black. Yet, MOST of the students in my prep school…are white….

How could I be so blind to such blatant disparities?

I thought back to a time when I was younger and I went with my friend to her country club. I remember swimming in the pool and eating at the bar by the poolside, it was great. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered that the very club that I had swam at, with my best friend as a child, had a policy that prohibited blacks and jews from gaining membership. Apparently, the country club opted out of a government-funded tax break, just so they could keep their membership restricted to whites only. The country club would have rather paid extra money, out of their pocket, than take a tax break and be forced to permit jews and blacks to join their club…how could I have been so oblivious?

I realized that when people look at me, many won’t see me, they’ll just see black.  For many people the black kids in the rundown city schools and me with my prep school background are one in the same. When they see me, they see them and when they see them, they see me.

 

Now I know what it means to be black in this world…

What It Means To Be Black In This World…

16 thoughts on “What It Means To Be Black In This World…

  1. I remember once I went to a country club to swim after a gathering with one of my mom’s coworkers. My sister and I were the only black people in the water….

    It was kind of uncomfortable. No one said or did anything to make us feel unwelcomed, but with it being a private country club, i couldn’t help but feel like they thought we were making the water dirty….

    Like

  2. Yup, now you know. And this knowing will grow!

    It’s interesting how some black parents avoid discussing the nuances of prejudice and racial bias with their children. Mine did. My guess is that they believed I would come to see this sad reality for myself … I did, as do most of us.

    What I did “hear” (indirectly) from the elders in my family, as well as other black folks was that black people had to work 2 – 3 times as hard as a white person to be on an equal footing with them. I resisted this truth – because of the utter unfairness of it.

    If you had a child, what would you teach him or her about the reality of race in America?

    Like

    1. thanks for the comment. If i had a child, I would want them to understand that in reality, you have to be prepared to understand that some people really are racist and its not your fault. I would want them to know that there is nothing wrong with being black and its nothing to be ashamed of, the racist people should be ashamed.

      Like

  3. Tyrone says:

    ProudChocolateGirl:

    I want blackwomen to know that they’re a blessing to our race, blackmen, and humanity as a whole. No blackwoman on this planet should view herself as inferior to anyone. The greatness of the black female can’t be hidden and distorted by historians and elites, regardless of the lies and bs they shove down the throats of black people on this planet. Sistas, don’t allow the bs that’s running rampant in white media to cloud your thinking?

    Love
    Tyrone
    http://www.theafricachannel.com

    Like

  4. Tyrone says:

    ProudChocolateGirl:

    I want blackwomen to take back ownership of their african beauty, sex-appeal, and style. I’m tired of hollywood, the fashion and modeling industry, network tv, and cable tv making millions of dollars in this country at the expense of blackwomen. Kim & Khloe Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Eva Longoria, Jessica Alba, Sofia Vergara, Eva Mendez, and so forth. The powers-that-be on this planet have no problem stealing and maximizing black female culture and beauty to enrich themselves, but, blackwomen have to sit back and watch mixed whitewomen reap the benefits of what blackwomen created. Racial and cultural theft didn’t die in 1964 and 1965. I have a major problem with how sistas are being exploited on this planet, a major problem. The British, French, Italian, Spanish, Portugese, The Dutch, and other euros had a great time violating the womanhood of our foremothers for 400+ years, and the same group of whitemen have the nerve to portray my black sisters as inferior to whitewomen and other non-blackwomen, Bulls**t! Chocolate Girl, I’m gonna keep in touch with you on the regualr, Okay!

    Love
    Tyrone
    God…Life…Health…Freedom…Blackwomen
    The Power of 5

    Like

    1. La Reyna says:

      Tyrone,

      Let’s not forget the media’s hyping of Bo Derek wearing characteristically Black braids. Black women wore braids for a long time and yet, Bo Derek is credited with that look without any acknowledgment to Black women whatsoever.

      La Reyna

      Like

  5. HandsomeOlderLustyBlackLad says:

    Babe,you’ve got ONE HOT BOD,so
    I’D LOVE TO BE YOUR BOY!!!!(I’m 57,so you’d have to be at least 24 to be my girl.)
    As for the racism,I certainly can relate,but you should be a boyishly handsome black man with a genius-level IQ-mine falls between 147-160-to expreience REAL BIGOTRY!!!I get it for being attracted to buxom blondes between 24 and 42;AND my love of heavy metal,garage rock,Country music,dancing-EXCEPT LINE DANCING!!!-and rodeo,which is non-existent near my Windsor,Ont.,Can. birth-place and home-town!!!

    Like

  6. I-man says:

    I just ran through you blog to at least read the first one. very interesting. It, too took me, a couple of years to realize that what you mentioned as well. Like the reason why my dad (who was white) had me walking a protest line against discriminatory housing practices on the west side of chicago, or why he sent me to a majority white preppy high school. So I could know what I am being denied and to work harder to get it, without suffering these fools.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s