Today, I felt, started a bit off already, but it would get better and than go downhill again.
A girl I use to know in high school who I was acquaintances with on FB wrote me asking for $20.
It was a strange request, she mentioned a health issue and said she needed it right away. Given the distance of Coast-to-Coast and her lack of a bank account and my lack of an available western union, and my growing suspicion with her desperation that this was not about medical issues, I declined. She demanded that I try anyway, which, for the record, was strange considering
a. I do not really know her
b. every time she writes me it’s for a favor ( i donated money to a cause for her before)
c. doesn’t she know anyone else?
I concluded she must have some kind of addiction which could explain why $20 dollars, why now, and why she was asking me instead of anyone close to her. I had not seen her since high school and I barley saw her then. I can not remember an interaction.
Regardless, I stopped responding after she became aggressive, than a short time later her husband apparently gets on and writes “Hey n***** listen here this is her husband I dont appreciate u acting like your going to help my wife and not do it…” so I figured, clearly they were not in need and clearly these were not people I wanted as Facebook friends or wanted to have any association with.
But it bothered me. This was not the first time i’d been called the N-word, nor will it probably be my last. But something made me feel so bad for them. It was a trigger for me. I grew up with a father who had alcohol and drug addition problems. I’ve seen this desperation before and I wanted to help, but I also knew, I did not have the power to change someone. My father is better now, but it’s a shame to see someone so young go down a hill like this, furthermore, it’s a shame they called me the N-word. How many other people do I have a passing relationship with in some virtual capacity that feel the same way? So I was shaken, I felt my dignity had been torn from me in the moment but also, I just felt confused. How long have they harbored these views and felt this way about me? Anyway, I unfriended them and decided to report the abuse, for nothing lack of satisfaction. I spent my time thinking of my father, thinking of the other times i’ve been called an N-word, in different countries, in California, times it’s been written on poster board for me, or the time someone drew a noose on the dorm wall.
The time I was walking down the street and a truck full of men threw water on me, calling me sexually explicit words or the time I was walking (again) and a truck of men (why always a truck full of men?) drove up to me and threatened to hang me N-word if I don’t get out of their town. These indignities bestowed upon me in a patriarchal and racially charged environment. Then, I remember, with pain, the time my friend (or who I though was my friend at the time) started to explain his encounter with a black man and used the N-word to describe him before I cleared my throat and he said “Oh sorry, I forgot you were there”. Somehow, that was a more uneasy feeling.
So linguistics, stereotypes, cultural awareness, real racism, resentment, all of this i’m sure played into my experiences. What’s been the most strange for me, is the N-word comes from the most unexpected places. I been called the N-word more times in California than I had in Wisconsin. Even in Mississippi, at the vacation home of the confederate president, I was treated warmly. Granted, the terrible noose drawing happened in Wisconsin and it’s happening again now, read this article. College all over again. *sigh*
Another question I have, since I am on an unstructured roll, is “How?”
How do you face all this and still believe in society and humanity? To not be bitter and constantly afraid? To not feel pissed off? Well, I am pissed off. I still have faith in humanity and the system built for civil society, but I am pissed and rightfully so. I do not think anyone has the right to degrade someone else, and especially, in this country, with our history. With our current situation of ramped systematic discrimination in the judicial system and elsewhere in the world, against all oppressed people, and yes, against all people as well. Hate crimes have been committed on all sides. Both, I would argue is a direct reaction to the system that created a space for such hatred.
So, here I am. 5:00am and I am putting the final touches on my grad school homework. Thinking about all of this and uneasy about the day. After I sleep, I will feel better. The problems in society will not go away. Neither will what happen from my memory. Racism staying sketched in your brain for long after the physical and emotional wounds heal. That’s why it’s so dangerous. But I will wake up, listen to music, do more work, and look at my family, my little family, and smile.