Monday, June 1, 2020

In a time of pandemic and racial intolerance

Me and mine, circ 1992 or so...

The pandemic is winding down where I live. Racial is not to be tolerated. Of course it’s not new. Just about the time white people’s boots hit the ground in the new America’s we started trying to get the upper hand on the “natives”, and very quickly imported dark skinned people in chains to do the labor. We used everything the Chinese would give us on our rail roads, we locked up all the Japanese in WWII. After emancipation we never let things get better for black folks, we tore down successful communities, we wouldn’t allow flourishing. We stole from them, flooded their communities with drugs, locked up their men. Stole their freaking cells from them, thank you Henrietta Lacks!

I don’t know why we bothered to start teaching our kids about racial equality if we were still going to perpetuate all the shady shit in the dark. 1970 I was 10 and Ray Stevens was singing everything is beautiful and my next door neighbor and constant companion was a little black girl named Harriet. Her sister spray painted “I’m black and I’m proud” on the underside of the slide on the playground at our housing area on Reese AFB TX, but when I asked Harriet about the rest of the song she whispered, it’s secret.  I knew a little bit about Martin Luther King, I knew there were riots about race, but by 1970 I was pretty sure racial injustice had been wiped out. Through the rest of my Air Force brat childhood I was aware that the military mandated racial tolerance and equality be practiced by our fathers and by us, and we were a little ahead (maybe in the Deep South, WAY ahead; Panama City Florida I’m looking at YOU)! I joined the army and spent 8 more years in that artificial environment. I might have been aware there were racist in the ranks, but they were very quiet about it, especially after I married a black soldier. I thought racism, for the main part, was over. There were LAWS about it EEO and fair housing, school integration. I’m not the only white person, privileged white person, to suffer with that delusion. Why did we as a society decide to hide it, when in reality it was still a daily thing for so many people of color?

I heard a bunch  of times, if you marry that black man and have children, they won’t be accepted by any race. Well, that was silly. They were accepted by my white family, and pretty much by all black people. There were some alarm bells about white people through the growing years. I took two preschoolers with me house hunting when I was about to get my RN and was ready to get out of the projects. That realtor showed me substandard house after substandard house, exposed electric, no central heat crap! I got a babysitter and a different realtor, talk about white privilege fix!!  My first grade daughter had school work with red pen bleeding over the papers and then about 8 weeks in, a note from teacher recommending her for special ed. I marched in there fresh from my nursing course on childhood development and quizzed teach on Steph's milestones and spouted names and theories on childhood development. She is getting great grades in her third year of college now at Delaware State University, a historically black college and university (HBCU). My middle school son was arrested in school for scratching his friend’s neck sitting in the chair in front of him with a paper clip, not even drawing blood, just dumb distraction. The shame faced principal told me the kid’s father insisted on it, so they had to blah blah blah. I wonder why it was ever enough of an issue that the kid’s father was notified, how much discussion happened before my son’s parent was called.  Another son arrested with pot in the middle school, they called me and told me to come on down because they were probably going to charge him with trafficking and expel him and those were felony charges. I walked in and the school’s assigned officer had worked with me at the prison, and he said, ohhhhhhh, he’s yours??? And it all went away. Privilege. Mine, not his. Not theirs. Now they are grown, and I can’t walk in and save them anymore. From being black.

Even with my own experiences, and there are many more and the stories got worse once they were adults, the full reality of it didn’t really hit until Trump took office. He disgusted us with his permission and at times blatant encouragement of intolerance and even violence for minorities, and all those people came out like cockroaches when it’s quiet with the lights off, except now they were happy to do it with the lights on. It wasn’t all trump’s fault, the hate, the violence, and the acceptance of it was always there. My black family knew it, I knew of some of it, but unless you are blinded by a whopping dose of degenerative hate, pretty much everyone in the US has to see it now. They were protesting for Mr Floyd in London, Paris, and BELGIUM this week! I am sick for this country. 

I do a lot of white people education, and try to be civil in hopes they can hear me better. Sometimes I’m an asshole, hoping to get deeper under their skin and make a longer impression (a therapist once advised me to act as if! to change my beliefs, I’ll make some people act AS IF). I don’t have lots of dollars to contribute, but I have and will continue to put some where it can help especially black families. I don’t know what else I can do, except I was a prison nurse and an advocate that way for 12 years, maybe I could volunteer for men either in or coming out of the system. White people, we’ve all got to do more.


  1. "Privilege. Mine, not his. Not theirs. Now they are grown, and I can’t walk in and save them anymore. From being black". White privilege is woven into the fabric of the American will never dissipate.

    1. I never wanted to believe that, but now I fear it.