When MLK marched thru Greenwood, Mississippi both of my parents skipped school to be apart of history. Their contribution did not stop there. They spent their lives attempting to upturn a system that sat on top of them. They helped open doors I can now simply walk thru. I do not know their struggle, although I can not help but sympathize.
I first ‘realized’ I was Black when I was about 5 or 6 years old. I was in Wal-Mart when a little white girl rubbed her hand across mine and then ran to her mother. She acted as though I had given her ‘cooties’. I didn’t understand. I was clean, I was well dressed, there was no difference between us other than the color of our skin.
My parents did not teach me to love everyone as equals. They taught me not to trust white people. Period. End of lesson. I had always been conditioned to believe whites were sometype of anomally that deserved reverence and attention, be it negative or positive.
In High School I took a course called Theory of Knowledge. This course required us to think outside the box. It made us ask the questions we had been told were out of line. What made the teacher correct? What is a belief? What is race? This course allowed us to see life as well as knowledge from a totally different perspective. It showed us there is natural progression to all things. Even authority.
I had always been to Black schools, had Black friends and I was an adult before I had a friendship with anyone outside of my ‘race’. She was different to say the least but I noticed when I hung out with her and her friends I was not treated like the ‘Black’ chic of the group as I had been warned I would be. I was treated as a member of the group. As with any relationship with anyone, I made my share of mistakes and misjudgements and I was always waiting for the shoe to drop. I was always waiting for my white friend to disassociate with me and tire of my Blackness as I had been warned she would.
I’m still waiting. By them conditioning me to be cautious they were actually creating a complex. Instead of receiving a message to disregard color, I was learning to judge by it. Where I should have been getting to know this person and understand them for who they are, I was instead judging them by what stereotypes dictated they should have been. I was waiting for the doublecross that has yet to come. But that is a risk you take in any relationship with any person you acquaint yourself with, regardless of their color.
What I have learned over the years is that color is a state of mind. As with all karma what you put out is always what you get back. If you see everything in Black and White that is all you will ever get. I don’t see my friend as my ‘white’ friend, she’s just my friend. A person no more or no less than me. Her skin color no more makes her a threat than a young man with his pants sagging. It is the content of their character that dictates their actions. And the content of their character can not be seen in their skin.
I can not carry the battles of my parents on my back. There are new battles out there to fight. I am in no way saying racism does not exist. Also, I do not mean to imply that one should not be cautious of the intentions and motives of others. I am only saying the main battle is not fighting the evil ‘white’ people. The battle, at least for me, is helping others realize they have the power to change their circumstances thru the choices they make. My parents and their generation provided that privilege. They fought long and hard to give us the opportunity to know life beyond the boundaries of color. So why would I limit myself on the basis of pigmentation?