Excerpt 2: Racism Today
It has bubbled to the surface in many of us just like that—young and old, black and white, rich and poor. With some speaking out, marching, protesting, holding up signs and fists, singing protest anthems made for a new generation—that’s what ‘Woke’ is all about. The end of that closed lip complacency. The end of timidity that won’t make offenders walk back out the door and start all over again with some respect. We’ve earned that by now.
You will see this mix of anger alongside even more complacency, and finger-pointing. With more feet taking it to the street before racism delivers any final bows—as if it ever could. An excellent outlook on that is found in author Derrick Bell’s, Faces at the Bottom of the Well. It is a telling dialogue about racism’s permanent, dyed in the wool effects on us all, and our role in dealing with that today. This mindset has deep roots and quickly sprouting branches that move in every direction—into institutions, splitting through homes, up through politics, tearing across religions, pushing into the people themselves to make them internalize their traumas. That’s a lot of work for all of us. But I come from parents and grandparents who faced back-breaking work head-on, every day of their lives because that’s what you do to keep you and your family alive. I bet many of you readers do too. We know in our blood that there is no place for complacency in that mindset or else you starve.
Racism has branches running into the wealthiest and most watched arenas in America right now. You can bet the children see it. How many are being told to “Go back to _______” that blank can be filled in Africa, Mexico, or Pakistan these days. How many are watching the ‘N’ word battle playing out like a basketball game with it being passed back and forth along the court of public opinion? It’s in the songs blasting on the speakers everywhere because it’s mainstream music on one side, and then it spills out of Bill Maher’s lips, and it is headline news on another. You don’t have to be a child to be confused when even the president calls Haiti and Africa a shithole.
And then within that same ten-day span, one of America’s biggest star athletes, LeBron James, had the ‘N’ word splattered across his luxury home by racists. In response, he said something that drove home whatever success I thought I had gained away from Gadsden and in the spotlight. Flying commercial or first-class in a Rolls Royce or an Uber. Like Lebron said, “No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, you know being Black in America is tough. And we got a long way to go, for us as a society and for us as African-Americans, until we feel equal in America.”
Yes, there is hope. This generation is defying so many of the limitations previous generations set.