Dear Anna You aren’t as Racist as You Think – I don’t always “Feel” Black – Does This Make Me Racist?

One of the reasons I love not hosting my own website any more is the fact that hosting it for free allows me to better connect with other bloggers.

A beautiful woman named Anna (Someone I’ve only chatted with twice now) wrote this wonderful piece called “Hello My name is Anna and I am a Racist

Well Anna I want you to know, that you are not nearly as racist as you think.

I remember very clearly in grade eleven telling my teacher that I do not date Black Men. “That seems kind of racist” she said to me in front of the entire class.

It broke my heart but not for the reasons you would expect.

The only man I’ve ever known as my father spent a great deal of time surrounding my mother and brother and I with chaos, drugs and alcohol issues and basically every “Black” Stereotype one could come up with.

It was at an early age that I learned Black Men are dangerous. Abusive. Cruel and Mean. I remember the number of times my mother was beaten down and broken and bruised. I remember her packing us up in fear and running, and I remember every time she returned.

I remember the last time she left. As a child I was convinced that all black men behaved this way because that was all I knew.

Growing up in Calgary Alberta Canada, (Often called the Texas of Canada) my high-school was incredibly un-diverse.

Through grades 2-4 there was 1 other black family other than my own and 1 East Indian Family. Then I switched schools and everyone was white. When I returned to my first school for grades 7-9 there was 1 other black family (the first black family had left) and the same Indo Canadian Family.

I grew up being “Too Black” for the white kids and “Too White” for the black kids. Until I moved to BC.

On my very first day of school at Sands Jr Secondary I was told “Do not go near the “Brown” (Indo Canadian) kids, because they’re dangerous…and gross”. I will never forget a girl name Heather telling me that.

I looked her in the eye dead pan and said “They are the same color as me.” “Yeah but you’re the right kind of brown.”

What she meant was that because I claim a Jamaican background I was the right kind of dark skin, because “Black is cool”. In those days anyone from Compton California was someone to look up to and I was the closest thing any of these back water red neck children would get to 2 Pac Shakur.

I recently posted a video telling the world that I don’t understand Black Culture. I stand by that. I have absolutely no understanding about Black Culture – and no I don’t mean history.

I can research history, it’s the culture. It’s the clothing, the speech patterns, it’s the way a black family behaves with each other. These are not things I grew up with and thus not things I understand.

All I know about Black Culture as a whole is what I see on TV and in the media. Yet I am Black.

I am also White.

I have often been called “The Whitest Black Person I know” by several friends, and sometimes it’s funny yet mostly I find it kind of sad, it actually hurts my feelings.

For a long time I truly believed I hadn’t faced racism, and yet whenever I hear about those words I wonder what that means.

Then I realize, that what I am being told is that I am still not “Black Enough.”

I wonder quite often about people who get angry about a white girl wearing dread locks. I don’t understand the anger, but I want to. I want to understand but I am not certain it’s something anyone can or will be willing to explain.

I have always believed that Racism as a whole was about hating someone based on their culture, creed, nationality or race. I never really stopped to consider the deeper seeds of racism because I’ve been through so much in my life that really when it comes down to it people hating me because of the color of my skin really didn’t seem to matter so much.

This post by Anna really made me stop and think about the number of times I’ve had to face real racism.

Like the time a bully tried to convince me that I was adopted because my mom was white and my dad was black. Or the number of times people seemed surprised to find out that my mother gave birth to both myself and my brother.

Yes I’ve faced Racism, but I’ve been so blinded by my own naivety and ignorance that I didn’t see it for what it was.

I remember my mom telling me once that I was black – I don’t remember what the conversation was about I do remember saying indignantly that I was also white.

I don’t know why it was so important that this be remembered but I do know my entire life I have always been very proud of the fact that I am mullato. A Word I didn’t even know existed until I was in my early twenties.

I remember the first time I heard it. “Oh is that what I am?” was my only thought.

No Anna you aren’t Racist. At least not intentionally. You said in your post that it wasn’t your most eloquent, this probably isn’t my most eloquent.

I know it seems like Race is a bigger issue than ever except that it’s not. It’s not a bigger issue, it’s exactly as bad as it has ever been. The only difference between now and 1956 or 1843 or 1732 is the fact that social media has connected the world in a way that no one could have expected.

There is I believe a difference between choosing to hate someone because of the color of their skin and being ignorant. You can choose to be either. Being ignorant doesn’t make you racist it makes you uninformed. I don’t think that in the year of Twenty Sixteen there is an excuse to be either but I definitely think one is worse than the other.

I don’t know if I will ever understand being mad at a white woman for having “black hair” – although I think corn rows with blonde hair do look rather ridiculous – but I do know that if we do not take the time to appriciate, respect and learn about as many cultures as possible we are without a doubt doing ourselves and the world a disservice that will only create another Holocaust.

No Anna, you aren’t a Racist. You’re secluded from people of other cultures but lucky for you this is a situation you can change. And Might I add, that I have the utmost respect for you, because you put yourself out there, and opened yourself up to a lot of hatred and criticism. That isn’t something most people have the courage to do.

I hope this made some semblance of sense, if not well…bare with me. I’m figuring all this Cultural stuff out too.

All my love

SynDolly

 

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6 thoughts on “Dear Anna You aren’t as Racist as You Think – I don’t always “Feel” Black – Does This Make Me Racist?

  1. Thank you for writing this. Like most things that are personal it both asks and answers questions. One small thing that interests me here is the power of labels. You grew up without knowing the world mullatto. I wonder if that changed your experience in any way. The way your generalized from your father to all black men seems logical for a child. You understand that he caused your family pain, you imagine your own future family and want it to be different, and you make a list of things you can avoid to protect yourself. The fact that the world packages the behaviots that you wanted to avoid as “characteristics of black men” is the part that makes me worried. You have grown up and know intellectually that it is a man like your father that you want to avoid marrying. Not a black man. Did this somehow change who you are attracted to as an adult? There are white men who make the lives of their children horrible. There are wonderful black fathers. In your story did you overcome this bias in the end?

    I heard a report on the genetics of race. It explained (and I’m sure I am not being faithful here) that Africa was the original seat of all humanity. So African DNA is more variable. So this leads to the positive phenomena of some of the people with African DNA to be better athletes. This leads to the negative phenomena of some of the people with African DNA to have more criminal tendencies. People with African DNA are the best and worst at everything.

    Now my own concern approaches the area of why then we see my above two examples in our prison system and on our fields but not in our science labs and classrooms. Here society unwittingly (or sometimes consciously) shapes behavior by applying expectations and sustaining circumstances that reinforce existing stereotypes. Unequal education perpetuates socioeconomic differences which when severe enough leads to acting on criminal tendencies. Access to basketball courts and interest from coaches leads to development of athletic potential.

    It is tricky tricky stuff.

    You and I both spent our formative years in worlds that were mostly white. The best part of the story for me was how you needed to think pretty hard to come up with examples of racism that was directed at you. The worst is that it is systemic and the people who have the advantage in the rigged system don’t want to give it up.

    At the end of your post you tell me that I can change my situation. My fear is that I am not brave enough to go far enough.

    Thank you for writing.

    • You know what’s really funny? My birth father found me erm like last year? year and a half ago as well as a few of his children (apparently there are 11/12 of us in total) and so because he’s Jamaican and has so many kids, and about 14 brothers and sisters I can’t ever date a Jamaican b/c I might be related to one of them by blood. (No joke. I mean I COULD but like No.) so yes my ideas of black men have DEF. changed as an adult there are pleny of beautiful gorgeous wonderful kind black men that I know personally and that I drool over in the line at the grocery store and I don’t think of them as the man who raised us – not any more.

      I do find it weird to be around Black people though – I don’t know how to behave I don’t know what the social customs are, or how I am supposed to talk. I know this seems silly but it really is a VERY different culture/way of speaking/behaving. Many Jamaicans I do know don’t like me b/c I am expected to behave a certain way around them and I don’t.

      As for your situation, I can honestly say that nothing bad can come from trying something you are afraid of doing. You might make some new friends, you might learn something and more importantly you might challenge yourself. I for instance decided that next year I will be volunteering for the Caribbean Festival Society so I can meet more Black people because hey if I wanna know my culture, I gotta know my culture right? also…Im black and you got me so that’s one! ❤

  2. I love this response and makes me feel like we are all trying to figure it out. Thank you. I am fumbling along trying to be an ally during these terrible times without making it about me.

    • It’s not about the “me” it’s totally about us doing exactly as you said, fumbling around trying to understand each other. I am so glad you and I have connected and hope we continue to do so Maura. ❤

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