My dad asked me a question not too long ago. It was a simple question but it held a loaded context, something that has become dangerously hushed for all the wrong reasons. The question was this: If you were walking down the street late at night and a black man was walking towards you, would you be scared? It did not take me long to respond to this. My answer was yes but not because he is black. My answer, while simply worded, has a bit of a longer explanation to it. This explanation has taken me a couple weeks to actually write down which, I have learned, is just another example of the weight of the words I am typing right now. When I told my dad that I wanted to write this particular blog he told me not to. “They will hate you,” he said but that is fine with me. That hate defines my explanation.
I live in a cloud of struggle just like anyone else. I have lived off of potatoes and eggs for lack of food money. Government employees monitor my every move not because I am a criminal but because I am a single mother who cannot seem to remove myself from hard times. I graduated with an associates degree but still lack the opportunity to fully utilize it to grow in a career. I have a job that does not offer a decent amount of hours to prevent my daughter and I from living in HUD housing. This job, also, does not offer benefits to allow me to graduate from being a DES dependent into a full-fledged grownup. The HUD housing that I reside in is actually considered to be one of the worst in town because of its reputation of housing some unsavory people. There have been shootings here, a high traffic of drugs, and cops making regular visits. None of this being a reflection of skin color. This is a diverse housing unit of failed youth. At least, that is how this town sees it. I do not enjoy living here but I lack options. At the very least, I do get to call this place my own, which is more than most and I am grateful for that but it does not mean that I wish to settle here. These are things that cause me a great deal of frustration and demoralizing anger but I refuse to use this as an excuse to destroy my town. These are things that I must push past even if it takes my entire lifespan to do so. This is a widespread problem among many different races of people living in America. The thing that makes it personal for me is the refusal I receive from being allowed to agree with you because I am white. Somehow it became about rejecting my struggles because, even though they are the same as most people, it does not recognize a specific race. I get labeled racist for generalizing the financial hardships of everyone in this country. For the first time in my life, I am beginning to see the separation of race not for it’s discriminating factors but it’s lack of unity. This country was founded on immigration. It was a chance to bring people together from all over to offer a unified decision to put freedom above all else. If anything, we are taking a step back.
The household that I was raised in did not take the time to discuss race. There was never a moment when my parents pulled me aside and said, “Now, daughter, you need to listen to us. We want you to fear people of a different color because they will cause you great harm simply because they do not look like you.” Skin color was never a factor in my moral upbringing. I was never told to believe that I was better than anyone else because I am white and they are not. We are all human and I believe that this is defined by basic needs as well as moral and ethical responses. We are born with the ability to make choices and to believe in what ever we see fit. My parents chose not to define my societal responses by race and I believe in the unity that they were trying to accomplish. The authority figures in my life never instilled any racial discrimination within my moral compass. I was never taught to hate.
However, what I am seeing lately is causing my beliefs to become unstable. Over the past few years I have opened my eyes a bit more to what is going on beyond my town and state. I have looked into this country and have a gained a great deal of respect for the place that I was lucky enough to be born in and this had given me a stronger belief in the unity of America. Well, it was at the time. I can never claim that I know a lot about the world or even my own country but I can say that I know enough. My opinions are based off of my views more so than my knowledge from books. You see, when it comes down to it, unity is where we are currently going wrong but in the sense of fearing our neighbors rather than segregating skin tones. The reason why I would be afraid of the man walking towards me on the street is because we all have caused each other to question the morals of the person next to us regardless of what color they are. There is no trust left within this country. We can blame this on technology all we want but it is us that have allowed it to take over our thought process. Parents have put their children in front of televisions and computers instead of telling them to go outside. More of us are growing up behind a Facebook profile with the instant gratification of misguided opinions. We have allowed ourselves to gain a short attention span because investing a little time in research has become obsolete. We have let technology take over our level of trust in one another because it became easier to look something up on the internet than to just ask someone. The problem with doing so is that the internet puts everyone in categories. It is the new level of segregation. Even now as I write this, I do not want you to simply accept my opinion as your own but to question it’s merit. If only we could go back to asking questions and debating theories and reason. If only we could go back to talking to each other and listening beyond our own comprehensions. Somewhere along to road we forgot to view each other as people.
Whether or not this post invokes hate is not my concern. If you read it and brush it off without questioning even the tiniest part of it is what concerns me. I am human and, therefore, fallible but it is within this certainty of human nature that we are unified. There is no other species like us and to belittle anyone else or separate ourselves because of skin color is just a waste of time. We are the only ones to teach each other to hate. If we do not look at ourselves while judging someone else then prejudice will take rule.