By now, most everyone knows I was born and raised in Louisiana. I was born in late 1967 and raised in a small town that had 10 Black families at most. The entirety of Sarepta’s Black community lived on Thomasville Road, the back road (now known as COVC), or the road close to St. Peter Missionary Baptist Church’s graveyard. We hung tight because we were all we had. The men rode to work together, I now suspect, in more of an attempt to remain safe (you know…that safety in numbers thing) than to save on the weekly cost of gas. I saw my share of racism, both subtle and understated to blatant and blaring. I experienced it from every angle – from students to teachers. My earliest memories of that crap go all the way back to kindergarten. It was a known fact that there were numerous KKK members in Sarepta. Hell, some of them lived on the same road that the majority of the town’s Black families lived on. Stupid, eh?
We lived on the same road but trust and believe there were no block parties. My brothers, sister, cousins, and other Black friends played football, basketball, and ran track, but you better know that the (whole) team celebrations ended once the games were over and/or the players made it back to school. Was it like this in all cases? Nope. In the years after I reached high school and thereafter, the “tolerance” was a little better. Like I said, it was both subtle and blatant. Personally, I was never called a nigger, but I saw the word sprawled across every bathroom wall. On the playground, plenty of times, from a distance, I heard white kids yelling at each other, “you’re a nigger”. I was excluded from games because I was Black, period. For the most part, it was just accepted for what it was. Not too many people on either side of the fight were publically vocal about the ignorance of it all because I guess it was just easier that way. The truth though is that, then, just like now, if you aren’t speaking out against the cancer known as racism, your hands are dirty, too.
Racism is everywhere. It’s quite possibly the most stupid thing in the world, but it is everywhere. Every single day, Black men and women are losing their lives for no other reason except that they are Black. I posted on BlogHer a while back that racism is taught and one person commented that that wasn’t true. Lady, stop it! Any of the rest of you who believe that it’s not taught need to take every seat available and stop all the foolishness. This is one of those cases where silence indeed condones the act. Not speaking out against racism doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re the match-carrier at the klan meeting, but it does send a message that you are not uncomfortable enough with it to condemn it. Maybe you’re just a little afraid of what your family and friends will say or think if you speak out against the abominations that have been headlining for years now. If that’s the case, guess what? Your hands are still dirty. Sitting back, knowing that your fellow man is being victimized because of the color of his or her skin, yet not participating in calling it out and striving to fix it leaves your hands dirty.
Be a part of the solution. Don’t be silent. Keep your hands cleans.