This week, the Internet has been ablaze with countless articles about Beyoncé and her half time performance at the Super Bowl. Seriously, it’s all I’ve seen lately. From critics raving that she “slayed” and calling us to bow down to Queen Bey to outraged masses who are calling her out on a racist performance, it seems that everybody wants to talk about why this performance was important in one way or another.
As for me, I didn’t really care at first. I didn’t watch the halftime show when it aired. I don’t like Beyoncé (sorry, everybody else in my generation… I don’t think she’s that talented). I eventually watched her performance, came upon the opinion that it was an absurdly hypocritical and obviously racially driven act, and moved on. Sure, I get concerned when the cry of racism is brought into the mix, but I’ve seen such injustices that I generally stay out of these debates.
That is, until I saw the result of our racist society in the life of a child.
Monday, the day after the Super Bowl, I had an appointment with my doctor. I waddled my 34 weeks pregnant self into the crowded waiting room and sat down two chairs away from a mother and a little boy. He looked about three or four years old and, with childlike curiosity, stared intently at me as soon as I took my seat. I smiled at him and he kept on staring. After a minute or so of this on and off staring contest, I gave him a little wave, which he reciprocated.
“Hi!” I finally said. “What’s your name?”
He told me and asked for mine. We were quiet for a second.
“I like your hair,” he said.
“Thanks! I like your hat.”
His face lit up and he adjusted his beanie proudly. “Yeah, it’s a Panthers hat! But they didn’t win. And I didn’t see all of the Super Bowl because I fell asleep. But now I’m awake and drinking my juice.” He showed me his sippy cup for good measure.
I nodded. “I fell asleep too. But a good cup of tea woke me right up this morning.”
“One time, I had tea at my grandma’s house! It was my favourite!”
The mother had been silent, ignoring our little conversation for a while. But at this point, she grabbed her son’s arm, stood up, and marched him over to the other side of the waiting room, saying, “You don’t talk to no white women. Never. You understand?” She spent the rest of our shared waiting time turning her son’s face away whenever he looked in my direction and batting his hand down when he tried to wave goodbye to me as my name was called.
Look, I’ve known plenty of parents who are uncomfortable with their children talking to strangers, even if they’re around to protect them. But that’s not what this was. This was a black women telling her black son not to trust white people. Not “don’t talk to strangers,” but “don’t talk to white people.”
“But white people have done so many bad things!” bemoan social justice warriors. “Remember slavery? Remember how we kicked the Native Americans out of their own land? White people cant be trusted!”
I’m not saying that my ancestors didn’t do some shameful things. They did and there’s no point to rewriting history to somehow claim that horrifying things didn’t happen. But, to loosely quote something I heard Ben Shapiro say in his Mizzou speech, we can’t hold the past to today’s morals. Standards change, hopefully for the better. And I’m pleased to announce that slavery is illegal in this county, that men and women of all races and colour have the right to vote, and that colour segregation actually only happens if we let it.
As this mother did, for example, by keeping her son far away from a woman of different colour.
There is no systematic racism in the United States of America as our government has implemented specific laws to protect people from racism and hate crimes. But racism in general is alive and well. The very definition of the word, however, has been skewed by our society. Somehow we have muddied the term to mean “anything that offends a person of colour.” Racism actually can be defined as, “The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. Also, prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”
So basically racism can be explained as a mother teaching her bright and eager son not to trust a member of another race. See where I’m going?
“But reverse racism doesn’t exist!”
You’re right. Reverse racism doesn’t exist. Only racism. And that can mean that black people are racist towards white people. Fun story, I used to be a little racist. I used to (half jokingly) say that I would never ever date an Italian man for some ridiculous reason. I would also never date anyone of German decent because of the Nazis. How absurd and ridiculous is that? Extremely ridiculous. But that’s racism. (And incidentally, I married somebody of German and Italian decent. It’s what we call ironic.) How foolish would it be, if I pulled my child away from an innocent conversation that I was supervising, telling her, “Ne parle jamais avec les Italiens! Jamais!” Just because we’re French and they’re not?
Let me be clear, I am NOT saying that there are no racist white people. I have seen my share of white Americans refuse to go to certain areas of their neighbourhoods because it’s too “ghetto,” by which they mean populated by people who are not white. I’ve heard them use the N word and make horrifying assumptions about others based on their race. It’s heinous and shameful. But so is a customer coming into the store I used to work in and telling me that she doesn’t want to do business with a white (insert c word here). It doesn’t matter your skin colour: you can be racist and teach your children to be racist.
I could go on about the double standard that is prevalent in today’s America, but there are plenty of other excellent articles and videos (particularly this one by Johnathan Gentry, which I highly recommend) going around about that. My concern lies in the fact that racism is being actively taught to our young children, producing an entitled society full of hatred.
There’s a little boy out there who’s having racism shoved down his throat by his family and the media. His wide eyed innocence will tarnish as he sees white people as the enemy, as he decides that he doesn’t have to listen to that teacher because she’s white, that he doesn’t have to respect this cop because he’s white and clearly out to get him, that he is above the melanin-deprived in society.
Man, I hope he fell asleep before Beyoncé’s ridiculous halftime performance…
11 thoughts on “Racism: Alive and Well in America”
This is my response to a friend about your blog, something else for you to consider.
This is no ill regard for you Whitney, but I do think this bloggers views are skewed to say the least. She is most entitled to her opinion but she seems to premise it off of facts but her facts seems to be formed based of of second hand information/opinion such as the media she mentions systematic racism doesn’t exsist- not true: https://www.raceforward.org/videos/systemic-racism (great videos) , http://www.commondreams.org/views/2010/07/26/fourteen-examples-systemic-racism-us-criminal-justice-system and : http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/at-the-edge/2015/05/06/institutional-racism-is-our-way-of-life I am confused as to why she misconstrued the woman not wanting her son to talk to her because she was white into don’t trust white people. woah, that is a loaded assumption. No, I’m not being naive into thinking that the Mother, she just didn’t want her son talking to strangers or probably just her, the blogger to many things she leaves out in her post. She based her whole encounter with that little boy on pure assumption. I feel a little bothered/offended that she seems to “group” (this) black mothers actions into = all black mothers. whoah. So is it right/wrong for me to assume that because I am a black mother that she was talking about me, just like she assumed that black mother doesn’t want her son to trust white people. The mother never said Don’t trust that white woman. We gotta stop assuming stuff like that. Also, (hypothetical question) what was the correlation between the panthers beanie and Beyonce’s performance, still a little confused. I guess at the end of her blog she states she hopes the boy fell asleep before Beyonces performance. I think she is insinuating the mother is influenced by Beyonce because of her comment to her son- (We give these entertainers to much power and credit in just 72 hours) She states she formed her opinion after hearing others opinion thru media about Beyonces performance, so her opinion really wasn’t hers. Is she trying to communicate that reason the mother didn’t want the son talking to her because of this sudden cry for “white distrust” due to and the influence of Beyonces performance because he was wearing a panthers hat and he mentioned the Super Bowl? (I actually have a thought why the mother might have said what she said, but I will only explain that in person and if asked due to the complexity of the issue.) I also find her making a mockery of Slavery and of Natives Americans. Also her quote: “we can’t hold the past to today’s morals. Standards change, hopefully for the better”. History has a funny way of repeating itself, doesn’t it? In some form or another or better yet continuing on at a more dull and steady pace than once was. As Native Americans still trying to keep the land that is apart of their ancestry- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/03/ndaa-land-deals_n_6264362.html Many African Americans still struggle with voting rights: http://billmoyers.com/2015/03/24/felon-disenfranchisement/ and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/25/black-america-2013_n_3647789.html WATCH Desmond’s video. It is interesting that she says that color segregation only happens if we let it: She immediately blogs and judges this mother for her actions not knowing exactly why she did or said what she did so in turn she is actually a part of the problem. I wish we would get out of this I have a opinion let me post it on my pedestal of a blog and actually have these conversations in person. Facebook and blogs are not in person. She states that “you can be racist and teach your child to be racist.” Did you know that from my own personal experience that someone can claim not to be racist but still not teach their child about racism which in turn actually teaches the child to be racist because the child will pick up racism through media, through social interactions etc and display it in a negative way. The next time we are NOT in a group of our peers, maybe we can have a conversation or ask a question that we are ONLY comfortable ONLY asking to a group of our peers, ask it to that different race person as to why another cultural or color person might say or do something. Maybe if we learn to get to know a person instead of judging them by the outward actions then maybe then we can be apart of the solutions. I personally extend a invitation to anyone to come and talk with me in person…. The next time you are passing thru, to Washington D.C., you literally have to drive pass my house to get there but I would be more than happy to have a discussion in person about what we are all so eager to talk about on Social media.
It’s the nature of things. The Blacks teach their young to hate Whites and anything White. That way their young never have to achieve anything of worth and can blame their failures on those Whites for not giving them the handout of a good outcome when all they ever input into life was worthless or negative.
That is not at all what I’m saying and definitely not true. To say that young black people never have to achieve anything of worth or are expecting a handout is adding more racism to the problem we’re already facing. Also referring to black children as “their young” is crude and awful.
No, it wasn’t what you were saying. I was merely explaining why it happened.
As for the young black people never have to achieve anything of worth or are expecting a handout – that’s exactly what they’re taught, though it’s couched in completely different language.
They raise their young – or children, if you prefer – to hate everything about Whites. That includes normative behavior that actually fits in with our society. They also at the same time teach them that when they fail it’s Whites’ fault for not “letting” them succeed irrespective of whether they objectively deserve to due to their antisocial behaviors.
Also, none of this is about “race.” It’s all about cultures, with the modern iteration of Black culture having been purpose built to be antithetical to normative, American culture.
There are a lot of things that you can infer in the actions that you saw this mother do. Can I offer a different point of view from a black woman’s perspective? There is a strong concern going around the black community. If you look up on Youtube you will see, it is where black women are the least attractive of all races. There are a higher percentage of black women that by the age of 30 who are unmarried than white women and it triples by age 40. Many black men are leaving black women for white women. There are shortages of black men. Maybe this mother is fearful that her son in talking to a white woman will be attracted to white women. White men (despite what it looks like on TV) do not date black women. We are not as attractive. Thus, the reason for the high statistics of more unmarried black women vs any other race. Since I am a black woman and a mother, I can see more this mother’s concern that her son might become interested in leaving the race for a white women than it being don’t talk to any white person. I wonder if it were a man would mom have reacted the same way towards him. Just a thought!
The author seems to ignore that black boys have been historically, quite literally, murdered for even speaking to white women. This mother’s experience is an extension of that trauma. White women lying to get black folks in trouble or even killed is part of our historical experience.
Seriously, all it takes is a Google search into Emmett Till / George Stinney / more names than I can offer here.
And by the way, a black mother telling her kid not to talk to you is not “racism.” It’s prejudice. There’s a fundamental difference between systems and personal interactions. Learn it.
I should have stopped taking you seriously when you referenced the king of bigoted grifter lies himself Ben Shapiro, but I digress.
Hi there! Wow this an old blog post and I cringe a little to read it now. I see years later that no, it wasn’t racism. It was prejudice. You’re absolutely right. There’s a lot I didn’t understand when I wrote this and a lot I still don’t understand, but I do know that slinging the word racism around like this in an instance that was prejudice or rude at best was definitely wrong.
Woah! To Karen, You have a very interesting perspective for a “Black Woman”, but “FUNNY” but I have never heard of sudden conversation amongst the black community about little black boys being attracted to white women and the black mothers being scared about it. You should take great care on speaking for all black women. BECAUSE I am black and beautiful and I’m a mother and I’m married to a white man. So Your opinion is untrue. 1. Black women know they are beautiful. 2. White men do date and oh, marry black women. 3. Not all black mothers are scared for their sons to marry a white women. It’s funny that you reference how black women feel but you steer this audience to youtube for your proof that black women are scared, ugly and single. It’s very interesting as well how you group all black women. My only issue with this mother saying what she said was I thought it was inappropriate.
I completely agree with this, and I’m so happy to see a Caucasian find the courage to say something like this in writing.
As a Black woman and a Caribbean native, I have always felt the same. My husband and I this all the time. He is Caucasian, so as an interracial couple we’re always smack in the middle of race relations whether we want to be or not.
I wrote an article on my page about whether or not Beyonce’s performance really does anything for racial equality and peace. You can check it out here http://alexischateau.com/2016/02/13/why-beyonces-super-bowl-50-performance-solves-nothing/ . Thanks!
PS – definitely following your blog.
Fantastic fantastic article!! Following you now. 🙂
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Thanks Elaura – I’m glad you enjoyed it. Honoured to have you in my audience. I’ve followed you back too! 🙂