Racism is a fact, but not my Focus
October 25, 2010 3 Comments
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.
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