Racism and Me
I’m a traveler at heart. Since birth, I have moved all over the United States and have had the privilege of calling other countries home. As a result, I wasn’t actually called a “nigger” till I was about fourteen. Yes, I knew of my ancestor’s past. But I grew up with so much culture in my life, learning how to speak Japanese and Spanish, having a crush on my Puerto Rican teacher who ironically taught English; skin color wasn’t a distinction of separation to me. So the term threw me off because the man who addressed me as such had thrown a rock at me while I was outside mowing the lawn, and I could tell he had great hate for me in his eyes. It kind of sucked for both of us since I was his next door neighbor for like, six years. I lived in Anniston, Alabama at the time, and the racism I experienced was everywhere. And it wasn’t just black-on-white. It was more so, black-on-black. People who shared the same skin color as me said ridiculing undertones attempting to get under my skin.
You don’t wear Jordans?
Why did you ask that white girl out?
You talk like a white boy.
You play acoustic guitar? That’s a white person instrument.
I’m a psychological thinking person, so I know people have a reason for doing everything, so trivial name-calling was irrelevant to me, but it did intrigue me. I knew more or less why people were racist, but the attempts for removing racism seemed pretty futile to me. Take for instant, I believe bragging and boasting is pretty rude, so why do most black people I meet use Black History Month and Barak Obama as a weapon to defend themselves, rubbing it in other race’s faces as a ridiculous attempt for payback for generations of struggling they didn’t even live through? There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your heritage, but most of them hardly knew anything about the people who fought for them in the first place. And I’m pretty sure Martin Luther King Jr. and the rest of the martyrs of our past didn’t die for a month of recognition that we happily accepted from the government so we could stick our chest out in flamboyant arrogance. That’s what I was thinking at my school desk in eighth grade. I was friends with a Colombian girl, three white guys, a Korean guy and I had a young lady who was Japanese as a friend, who incidentally was killed back in 2010 by the hands of a white man. So if anyone should be angry, it should be me; but anger is simply the wood underneath the fire of ignorance.
And now, I’m twenty, single, living in beautiful Chattanooga, Tennessee, just graduated college with a music education degree. My synopsis of my daily experience with racism is this: if you really want to combat racism, learn about other cultures other than your own. Realize that the people on the other side of the world have lives outside of your television screen on National Geographic. But never, ever forget where you came from. Don’t throw it by the wayside once February is over. Carry it with you daily, but don’t let it hinder you from learning and adapting to this ever changing world we live in.
25 Things To Do Before You Turn 25
1. Make peace with your parents. Whether you finally recognize that they actually have your best interests in mind or you forgive them for being flawed human beings, you can’t happily enter adulthood with that familial brand of resentment.
2. Kiss someone you think is out of your league; kiss models and med students and entrepreneurs with part-time lives in Dubai and don’t worry about if they’re going to call you afterward.
3. Minimize your passivity.
4. Work a service job to gain some understanding of how tipping works, how to keep your cool around assholes, how a few kind words can change someone’s day.
5. Recognize freedom as a 5:30 a.m. trip to the diner with a bunch of strangers you’ve just met.
6. Try not to beat yourself up over having obtained a ‘useless’ Bachelor’s Degree. Debt is hell, and things didn’t pan out quite like you expected, but you did get to go to college, and having a degree isn’t the worst thing in the world to have. We will figure this mess out, I think, probably; the point is you’re not worth less just because there hasn’t been an immediate pay off for going to school. Be patient, work with what you have, and remember that a lot of us are in this together.
7. If you’re employed in any capacity, open a savings account. You never know when you might be unemployed or in desperate need of getting away for a few days. Even $10 a week is $520 more a year than you would’ve had otherwise.
8. Make a habit of going outside, enjoying the light, relearning your friends, forgetting the internet.
9. Go on a 4-day, brunch-fueled bender.
10. Start a relationship with your crush by telling them that you want them. Directly. Like, look them in the face and say it to them. Say, I want you. I want to be with you.
11. Learn to say ‘no’ — to yourself. Don’t keep wearing high heels if you hate them; don’t keep smoking if you’re disgusted by the way you smell the morning after; stop wasting entire days on your couch if you’re going to complain about missing the sun.
12. Take time to revisit the places that made you who you are: the apartment you grew up in, your middle school, your hometown. These places may or may not be here forever; you definitely won’t be.
13. Find a hobby that makes being alone feel lovely and empowering and like something to look forward to.
14. Think you know yourself until you meet someone better than you.
15. Forget who you are, what your priorities are, and how a person should be.
16. Identify your fears and instead of letting them dictate your every move, find and talk to people who have overcome them. Don’t settle for experiencing .000002% of what the world has to offer because you’re afraid of getting on a plane.
17. Make a habit of cleaning up and letting go. Just because it fit at one point doesn’t mean you need to keep it forever — whether ‘it’ is your favorite pair of pants or your ex.
18. Stop hating yourself.
19. Go out and watch that movie, read that book, listen to that band you already lied about watching, reading, listening to.
20. Take advantage of health insurance while you have it.
21. Make a habit of telling people how you feel, whether it means writing a gushing fan-girl email to someone whose work you love or telling your boss why you deserve a raise.
22. Date someone who says, “I love you” first.
23. Leave the country under the premise of “finding yourself.” This will be unsuccessful. Places do not change people. Instead, do a lot of solo drinking, read a lot of books, have sex in dirty hostels, and come home when you start to miss it.
24. Suck it up and buy a Macbook Pro.
25. Quit that job that’s making you miserable, end the relationship that makes you act like a lunatic, lose the friend whose sole purpose in life is making you feel like you’re perpetually on the verge of vomiting. You’re young, you’re resilient, there are other jobs and relationships and friends if you’re patient and open.
um yes… may not do everything on this list… but its a pretty good one! Proud that ive accomplished a few already :)