Howard-John Wesley (my pastor) preached a mighty word today out of Genesis about the first murder that occurred in the world–when Cain Killed Abel . As he related this biblical story to what is going on currently in this world, it made me very upset and brought tears to my eyes. Black men and women are being murdered because of the color of their skin. We have a candidate running for office that is doing nothing but inciting racist behavior and thinks that all Black folks are living in hell in the inner city. We have people that think of nothing of killing children or walking into a church and opening fire.
How do we get people to operate in love and not fear and hate? Black skin should not elicit fear or prejudices. I think of my nephew and nieces and my future children. I am afraid for them. I am saddened that they will learn how to properly respond to police officers or carry themselves so they are not threatening.
And even if they are not perceived as “threatening”, it doesn’t protect them from the microagressions that they will face daily:
I remember the first time I was called a ni–er. I was in third grade and this boy was mad that I knew an answer that he didn’t. He also thought it would be cool to throw in bastard. Being taller and stronger than him, I remember immediately jacking him against the locker and asking him in a calm voice if he knew what those words meant. I think I completely scared him because he timidly said no and started crying. I quickly let him go and went about my business, but the words stuck with me….
When I started my PhD program at Yale, I thought to myself, “I finally made it” I have proven my intellectual capability and got accepted to one of the top institutions in the world.Here, I would not be defined by the color of my skin. I wrongly assumed that my brain could protect me. We would have weekly speakers that came to my department to give talks on their research. Before their talks, the students would have a chance to engage with the speakers over lunch. At one such lunch, I made the mistake of getting to the lunch early ( I was hungry..lol). The speaker was alone and we struck up a conversation about his work and then he started to ask me questions about my research and where I went to school. When I told him that I went to Virginia Union University, he was like, “What kind of school is that and where is it located?” I told him it was a historically black college in Richmond. Then he had the nerve to say, ” Well I do not think Historically black colleges adequately prepare students for graduate school”. I immediately said, “Well, obviously that is wrong, otherwise I wouldn’t be here having this conversation with you.” It immediately got awkward.
During my time at Yale, I had people ask me if I was there because of affirmative action or some other low income program. Many of my fellow black, hispanic, and other friends of color experienced the same things. I really find it hurtful that my race is stereotyped by a few bad examples shown on tv. All of us are not lazy, living in the hood, and selling drugs.
Those are just a few examples, but of course there are many others. Being followed around in the store because people think you will steal something. The shopkeeper that will not speak or be helpful when you enter, but will speak to the white person that walks in behind you. The waiter that will only show you the wine by the glass menu because they assume you can’t afford a bottle of wine… or being the only black person in spaces and being expected to speak for all black people.
Being the only black person in spaces can be very mentally taxing. You always feel that you have to perform better then your peers because you are being defined by stereotypes. Why can’t I be looked at as an individual, rather than as a representative of my entire race?
Anywho, I can go on and on.
But back to my original question. When will we as a country learn how to operate out of love, rather than fear? Black skin should not incite fear. Like Pastor Wesley shared today, When will we become our brother’s keeper? Because everyone deserves the right to live and not be gunned down because of their race, religion, or any other factor. When will WE learn to operate out of love, rather than fear?