When you are a minority living in a city that is over 98 percent white, you notice. People are surprised when I tell them I have a graduate level college degree. Once, at the end of a conversation on racially-motivated hate, a girl told me never walk home by myself. I get those people who try overly hard to tell me how colorblind they are or how cool they are with Black people. And to top it all off, the theater by my house didn’t bother to show Red Tails! I mean, why would anyone around here want to watch a movie about Black history? (Sigh.)
Because of my innate novelty here, I have found myself questioning whether I really want to bring my children up in a place where they also would be an instant stand-out. The other night, a disgusting scene broke out in my favorite bar – a liberal enclave in this rural, right-wing county. Some guy whose girl was apparently seeing a new beau on the side, caught his lady friend having dinner with another bar patron who happened to be Black. I remember seeing him take a picture with his phone. But I didn’t think anything of it. That is until he confronted both of them. (The new guy, totally unsuspecting, was quite surprised of this man’s existence.) The man pointed straight at my (now) new friend and told him twice he was a “fucking nigger.” Twice. Pointing at his face. (That shit don’t fly in my favorite bar – he was promptly banned.)
Ya know, I don’t care if he was mad about finding his girlfriend with this other man. I don’t care if it was just something he said in the heat of the moment. The fact that he said it means he thinks it. The fact that he thinks it means he is a racist. I don’t want my children growing up in a place where they will be treated or even considered differently by people like him.
Just because you don’t say racist things and you have Black friends doesn’t make you progressive or colorblind or tolerant or whatever you want to call yourself. What you say matters. What you do matters. How you treat people matters. But most of all, what you think is what matters.
Did you know that there is no specific antonym for the words bigot or racist? Do you want to know why? Because such a thing doesn’t truly exist yet.