I’m a multigenerational Black American meaning my family came over during slavery. I never had to deal with much duality like an African or a Caribbean immigrant might. However, I was raised God first, Pride
in Blackness next. So, I was aware that I was different and proud of that difference but there was really nothing that made me feel I was having a completely separate experience from other Americans. I had all the same little teeny bopper boy band crushes white teenagers had I just also happened to have a crush on Method Man. Something extra, a little spice. That’s how I viewed my Blackness. Like paprika. As I got older and interacted with more white people, I did pick up on some micro aggressions, usually centered around my hair but nothing overly alarming came to mind. It actually took me leaving the states a couple of times to get how fully Black Americans are othered in our own backyard.
You see when you leave the United States as a Black person and tell people you’re from America they immediately erase you and mentally replace everything with McDonald’s and being rich. That’s America. The caveat being that if you’re Black you are probably cool, entertaining in some form, potentially dangerous if you happen to be a man and hypersexual if you’re a woman. That’s part of my overseas experience in a nutshell. Understand, I immensely enjoy traveling but it’s just that in that time frame of
being away from home I began to mull things over. Because the honest truth is when visiting countries that have little to no Black folks, there is actually only one way they came to the conclusion that I might own a handgun. American media.
Things have progressed no doubt, but the fact remains that American TV, movies, news, literature, and music has already generationally impacted how Black Americans have been and will be viewed by non-Blacks. These images are what have penetrated the hearts and minds of millions and impacted their actions towards us. Especially those who don’t have any intimate relationships with Black people. These images are so indoctrinated that I don’t know if we can ever catch up and rework things because
honestly at times it just feels as if people don’t want to change even if it’s possible. It’s 2021 and people are still doing Black face in some countries. Yes, in a shocking turn of events… Black Panther did not erase Black face.
This is proof that media is moving faster and spreading wider than it ever has but it just feels as if no matter what, nothing changes for us. Ironically enough my first out right racist experience was in a McDonald’s. A homeless woman called me a nigger because I didn’t have any money to give her. That’s right. A homeless person with out a pot to piss in still had enough power to momentarily break my spirit with one word simply because she was white. Now imagine if she had a gun or the authority to arrest me for not giving her some spare change. It seems like a stretch, but is it? She was conditioned just like everyone else. So, is it unrealistic to believe an officer could have the same exact bias as a her? I don’t think so. The positions changed but the influences remain the same.
Most recently in social media hashtag movements such as Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate have grown in popular and ultimately powerful. But because I have actively watched not much change, when I see a hashtag movement to be honest while some part of me is appreciative, I’m skeptical and I think all Black people are. We’re faced with the reality that it may do absolutely nothing at all. They are catchy and get everyone’s attention, but the thing that is ultimately killing us is fear and this fear is stemmed in false narratives. The fear then becomes amplified by terrible protocols. This is something that no hashtag alone can fully reverse. The only way to have real change is to impact people’s feelings. Not just make laws. People break laws, but not their own hearts. Outlets have to consistently give us the reigns and funding to tell our own stories, see and show ourselves as we are. Then perhaps not only can we actually feel at home in our own country we’ll live long enough to make sure our children are viewed as human, not a source of fear or a perpetual minstrel show.