The last few weeks have reminded me how life has been painful for me in America, as it has for so many other people of color. And has been for years and years, and why people today are saying “400 years is too many, enough is enough.”
As an immigrant in this country and a Black woman, a mother of two biracial Africa American-White boys, I have experienced racism just about everywhere – at work, at the schools, in the streets. I remember seeing my son’s elementary school teacher every time at drop off or pick up, wanting to make small talk and seeing her turn her back to speak to other parents, then telling me later to “wait until parent-teacher conferences.” I remember how another teacher did not respond to requests for information until my partner got involved. I remember at a pool noticing how the White children passed a pool toy to each other but kept it from my son though he was playing with them.
Another part I hate about racism is how it makes you question your sanity. I know some will wonder if these experiences were really racism? “Maybe you are reading too much into it.” I think people don’t realize that seeing these things happen over and over is enough.
As an African in America, I do experience the racism differently than African Americans. I am removed from my culture and see it presented in such a different way on TV and in other media. I don’t hear as many comments about zebras and lions but I know people do think of Africa as one country and presume I must be grateful to be away from all the chaos, death and disease they see on the news.
When George Floyd was murdered, my father-in-law asked if my boys were safe, if we would be safer living outside of the United States. It’s something I had to think about. America has been considered a beacon of hope for people around the world for many years. I became a citizen two years ago. Is this a safe place?
I am sure that by sharing our experiences, by speaking directly we can over come the attitudes we’ve been taught about how we treat people of different backgrounds. It is our only hope.