HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Race & Ethnicity » African American (Group) » Please share your "y...

Tue Sep 30, 2014, 04:50 PM

Please share your "you don't think we're like that" story [View all]

Last edited Tue Sep 30, 2014, 06:32 PM - Edit history (5)

I'll share my most egregious one. I was in an online Creativity class and each student had her/his own virtual room to post art, poetry, music, etc. I posted a poem titled "Never Trust the White Man." It was a poem about my maternal great grandmother's oft-repeated admonishment, as related to me by my older cousins. My great grandmother, for all intents and purposes, WAS a white woman, but she held onto that drop of African blood that coursed through her veins with her all. She married a very dark-skinned man, and they had eight children.

My great grandmother was a seamstress, and my great grandfather was a farmer. They were very prosperous for the time, and some of the white townsfolk didn't much care for that. Mama made all her children's clothes, and they were always dressed well. One day, one of my great uncles took the car into town to buy some supplies, and the local yokels accused him of stealing. Of course he had no need to steal because his parents made more money than most of the yokels. Anyway, he managed to get away from them and get home...but trouble was still on the horizon. Later that night a mob was assembled and headed towards the farm. My great grandparents were warned, and they managed to escape to safety with all their children. That mob would have probably lynched the entire family if they had not fled, and they had to flee the land THEY owned. Another parcel of land lost to a white lynch mob. I still wonder who owns that ill-gotten land to this day.

Anyway, my poem was about ALL OF THAT, and then some. It was a story about my life, my mother's life, my grandmother's life and my great grandmother's life...and it was ALL true! I wrote about my cousins running into their house and telling their mother that the neighborhood kids were teasing them about "white people" being in their house. I wrote about how TERRIFIED they were, and how they looked in the closets and under the beds trying to make sure there were no white people in their house. Because...in Texas in the 1950's and 60's, white people were TERRIFYING to little black children. They were the ones who lynched and bombed and intimidated and killed...they were the people you should stay away from and be afraid of. That was THEIR reality.

In Ft. Worth, TX, the black people lived on one side of the lake, and the white people lived on the other side. My uncle was married to a white woman, so she had to lay down in the car to travel to the black side of town, to visit his relatives. And, my great grandparents' children were fair-skinned, so they too had to be careful not to offend the sensibilities of the Jim Crow south. They were the "white people" the neighborhood children were alarmed about...they were just family.

So, my story was brimming with complexities and uncomfortable realities, all of which I poured into that poem. As my friend said later: White people do not understand the complexities of our lives or our realities. And boy, was she ever correct.

I posted the poem, and almost immediately, all hell broke loose. I was accused of racism and told my poem...the poem about the TRUTH of many generations of my family...was "offensive." I had only one ally, of the 20 or so students in the class: the other black person, a man. And thank goodness for him, because I got attacked like you would not believe: I couldn't believe it. I was in the supposed liberal bastion of San Francisco, and frankly, I was completely stunned by their reactions. To a one, they accused me of being racist, and offensive, and so on, simply for writing about what actually happened. I will never forget it.

The reactions were not about I wrote; they reacted to how what I wrote made them feel, and apparently it did not make them feel good. And too often in the american racial narrative, our job is to make white people feel good about themselves. Our job is to congratulate and to feel grateful, and to never, ever make anyone feel uncomfortable.
So, if I am thanked in an email for "fetching" reports, I am not supposed to challenge the word or the sentiment or the motive...no. I was supposed to feel grateful that I was even mentioned, no matter how offensively. And when I challenged the woman who wrote that bs? She bent over backwards trying to prove to me that she was "not like them." She was a Harvard grad, something she loved to mention often, so I asked her: were you thinking?! How could you possibly think equating my contribution to the team with the act of a dog was perfectly fine? Yeah...you ARE like THAT, so learn from this experience and stop being like THAT. And stop being a passive-aggressive asshole to boot.

I think I am done now. Please share. I think it is important to continue the dialogue about race that the teabaggers have awakened.

19 replies, 5218 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 19 replies Author Time Post
Reply Please share your "you don't think we're like that" story [View all]
noiretextatique Sep 2014 OP
SheilaT Sep 2014 #1
Blue_Tires Sep 2014 #2
noiretextatique Sep 2014 #3
NOLALady Sep 2014 #4
gollygee Sep 2014 #5
giftedgirl77 Sep 2014 #6
Mr_Jefferson_24 Sep 2014 #7
heaven05 Oct 2014 #17
Mr_Jefferson_24 Oct 2014 #18
heaven05 Oct 2014 #19
Number23 Sep 2014 #8
JustAnotherGen Oct 2014 #9
noiretextatique Oct 2014 #10
JustAnotherGen Oct 2014 #11
noiretextatique Oct 2014 #12
JustAnotherGen Oct 2014 #13
lunasun Oct 2014 #14
lunasun Oct 2014 #15
heaven05 Oct 2014 #16