Racism is a fact, but not my Focus

My father teases that my perspective about the effects that race has on me are so minimal that I could live, comfortably, if my address was:

123 White Sheet Way
Caucasian
City, “KKK” State

He goes on to say that I could walk up my driveway to get the mail as my neighbor, Mr. Wizard, is doing the same and greet him daily with, “How are you today Grandmaster?”

This is not to minimize the harsh experiences that “chocolate” folks (an easier term for me rather than trying to keep up with what’s politically correct these days because I’m bound to offend) before me have had, neither to say that racism is not a fact of life, but just because something is a fact does not mean it has to be my truth.

What good does it do to perpetuate hatred by responding with hate? I’m smarter than that! To me it’s more important to embrace equality than to fight racism. I can’t do both.

Here’s what I know, understand, even appreciate, that “Mr. Wizard’s” beliefs are valid for him – doesn’t mean they are morally right – but he has life lessons and experiences that make them right for him.

It is not my job to change “Mr. Wizard.” What “Mr. Wizard” does is not about me, it’s about Mr. Wizard.

Here’s how I live my truth while honoring the chocolate people who have suffered racism that I’ve never known: I refuse to focus on what Mr. Wizard believes about me because it has the potential to mentally oppress me; to stifle my emotional growth and my financial gain.  Instead, I “allow” (not that he needs my permission) him to do him, which frees me (because I don’t need his permission) to do me.

The fact that I’m enjoying opportunities that those before me could not and steadily paving an even better way for those coming after me, to me, is time better spent.

What’s worked for me (a baby of the 1960, female, professional from the South –  different times and cultures called for different tactics) when I’ve encountered “Mr. Wizards” I’ve taken the driver’s seat; minimizing their mental hiccups by blending in – from speaking standard English, dressing in totally professional gear and yes, even down to how I wore my hair – knowing that by minimizing the turbulence I’d consistently advance, expand my options and eventually be respected more for my character and skills than rejected for anything else.

When “Mr. Wizard” experiences that I am just as competent, articulate, consistent and loyal I don’t have to prove anything; I only need to continue.  I have always been proactive about blending in and determined that if anything about me was to stand out it would only be excellence!

You see, my neighborly “Mr. Wizard” always responded to my “How are you today Grandmaster?” with “I’m doing just fine, How are you today, Exception?”

Now depending on who you are and your perception of the world, that “Exception” could mean, an exception within the black race; one to be distinguished from the rest OR it could simply mean, an “Exception” from the rest, which simply means, the best – exceptional!

I’m never surprised when I’m treated with respect by “Mr. Wizard”.  In fact, it is what I have come to expect from “Mr. Wizard” – if not immediately, eventually.

I am who I am and “Mr. Wizard” does not dictate nor determine that, by whom he is.

Daddy’s point is that it doesn’t matter to me what another person believes about me.  The only thing that matters to me is what I know about me. I live my truths – nobody else’s.

Here we GROW…Grown IS Sexy! ;-)

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About Zara Green
Hi, I'm Zara Green, A "Do Better" Fanatic and Your Advocate...I'm glad you're here! As a personal growth Author and Speaker, who's Individuality & Resilience-Focused, I spark conversations that expand thinking, encourage effective & productive responses and produce better individual decision-making and better interpersonal communications in relationships. Growing Up with Zara because life is meant to be enjoyed ;-)

3 Responses to Racism is a fact, but not my Focus

  1. Zara Green says:

    I’m listening… 😉

  2. Well Zara, I was with you until about paragraph 9. Let me say I love the fact that Mr. Wizard doesn’t phase you (and I absolutely love your Dad’s assessment of you!) I think that a tragic by product of the legacy of racism & oppression is a… generational inferiority complex. So it’s refreshing when you write, “I refuse to focus on what Mr. Wizard believes about me because it has the potential to mentally oppress me…” But when you explain that you have handled your encounters w/Mr. Wizard by “blending in”, speaking standard english, modifying your appearance, etc. I have to say that I’m a bit surprised.

    I’d like to think that you do all those things because it is of benefit to you in various social & professional settings-regardless of race. If Mr.Wizard doesn’t phase you, why would you do anything different when dealing with him? In actuality the “blending in” items that you cite are things that all GIS’rs should be doing to advance professionally and socially-NOT to impress some Mr. Wizard!

    Do you really think that once you’ve blended in Mr. Wizard will now see you as all those great descriptive words that you used? If he’s a true “Mr. Wizard” you haven’t changed his opinion of you a bit. In fact, he probably knew you were articulate, competent, consistent, etc… all along. That’s a part of his fear of you. Wearing your smart navy suit, pulling your hair back in a bun & speaking the Queen’s english won’t change that. In most cases, you’ll be thought to be “arrogant” (code word for uppity n….)

    I’m only a couple of years younger than you, so maybe geography is the differentiator as you were raised in the south and I’m from the north (Philly). I will admit, I was always impressed with how my relatives from the south dealt with racism, “See we know how to handle OUR white people”, one aunt told me years ago. LOL! But Zara, I have heard that “exception” comment too many times to number in my life, (usually from people who wouldn’t see themselves as racist) and I always want to scream from the mountain top, “I AM NOT THE EXCEPTION! AND NOR AM I TRYING TO BE FOR YOU! I COME FROM A RACE OF PEOPLE THAT ARE EXCEPTIONAL!” Lord KNOWS I wish I had a Sam Green in my life, I know he must be exceptional…but some how I doubt that he fits Mr. Wizard’s definition…

    Racist Mr. Wizard isn’t worthy of the time or effort it would take to “blend in”. In fact, once I’ve identified him as a “wizard”, he wouldn’t be worthy of a greeting from me either. If I’m forced to deal with him professionally, so be it. And because I am who I am and not for any other reason-I’ll be impressive whether or not he recognizes it, respects it or likes it.

  3. Zara Green says:

    @Nichole – you’re right, I speak standard English in professional settings, dress “appropriately” and permed my hair for my own benefit…to help me achieve my goals; to “blend” in the environments/industries I wanted to excel in.

    You see, Mr. Wizard didn’t phase me and I wanted to make sure I didn’t phase Mr. Wizard…you know what I mean?? I can’t “phase” and impress Mr. Wizard, at the same time. Mr. Wizard (who in this case was white and race could have hindered me – if he were phased by me) was looking for reasons to NOT promote me, and I was intent on not giving him any…I was intent on disarming Mr. Wizard.

    My principles remained: as long as I wasn’t being disrespected or asked to lay down in order to step up (the latter), I was cool with it…it was all just work to me.

    You’re distinguishing the professional things I did and the things that impress Mr. Wizard, and I’m saying that they are the same things.

    We don’t often, but I totally disagree with you that Mr. Wizard will somehow dislike and repress me all the more because of my professionalism…in fact, you’re a bit contradictory from your earlier statements of siding with being professional for personal advancement. If Mr. Wizard is the one doing the promoting, you can say you’re being “professional for your own advancement” but you’ll not advance if Mr. Wizard is not impressed.

    Not being “phased” by what Mr. Wizard believes about me is to not care about his opinion of me…I don’t care WHAT Mr. Wizard thinks about me. That’s the sole purpose of this post.

    And yes, I believe geography plays a huge part, but you don’t have to like the “exception” analogy but I know for certain that many times I’ve been just that – for them, I was the “exception” (in their minds) within the race, but what I was delivering was who I am, “exceptional” performance regardless of race.

    My point here is that I could care less WHICH “exception” they’ve employed to hire me, I AM the exception and it’s not my job to change what they believe about the race they associate me with…that’s too heavy a burden, Nichole and I ain’t carrying it!

    …not real sure about Sam Green meeting Mr. Wizard’s definition – come again.

    As for your last paragraph…I’m really surprised, Nichole. I could be wrong, but from your pic, your hair looks straight and you look like you “blend” very well. I can’t tell much from your profile but I think I remember that you are a professional, and there are things/codes of conduct (spoken and non) that I’m sure you “blend” in with.

    While I’m not phased by Mr. Wizards general ideas about me because of my race, I still respect his experience…not his choices, but his experience. I’m not phased, largely because I have this perspective. As I said in the post…Just because something is a fact doesn’t mean it has to be my truth.

    Nichole, I’ll speak to a dog – surely, I can speak to Mr. Wizard, but then that could be my roots again, I AM from New Orleans and we speak to everybody. I decided years ago when I first went on the road as a speaker/trainer and was in a different city everyday noticing that people didn’t speak, that I would not allow them to change that about me. Living in the NYC area now they don’t always speak back but I do it for me, so it doesn’t matter. In fact, it’s become a game now.

    This post is less about Mr. Wizard and more about Me. You know? 🙂

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