People define racism in a number of ways. It can be more overt, with racial slurs or ethnocentrism that borders on neo-fascist ideals. Or it can be covert through value judgements based entirely on ethnicity (racial prejudice) and divisive rhetoric.
As fun as it is to talk about all these things; today I’ll be taking a completely different direction.
There are some actions people take that can easily be interpreted as “racism”, and we can sit here and debate them all day. So to avoid poisoning my analysis (by approaching this from a holistic perspective) I will base it entirely on my own experience and interpretations. If you share some of my views (or don’t) let’s talk about it in the comment section.
It’s also important to note that I live in a foreign country and I’m the only black person in my community. Sometimes I forget it until I’m reminded.
This puts me in a unique position to share my personal insights and conclusions.
CROSS THE ROAD
I’ve been in a situation where I’m walking home, and someone (usually a lady) is walking in my direction, sees me, and decides to cross the road. I’ve heard some people who’ve gone through a similar scenario conclude it as racism or fear built entirely on prejudice. (i.e Black = Rap + Basketball + Drugs + Hood mentality + Chicken + Gun)
These are all interesting theories, but until proven, they’ll stay that way, as theories. I can’t, for certain, say why this has happened to me 2-4 times. But it can be the result of numerous reasons. Maybe where they (the person crossing) need to go is across the road and has nothing to do with me. Maybe they want to avoid how awkward it would be to cross paths with someone when there’s plenty of space across the road. We could theorize about this for hours.
What I know for certain is, they are justified, for whatever reason — to do whatever they want — as long as it doesn’t inconvenience me. Sometimes people take actions based on culture or past trauma that we might not be aware of. Not everything that happens around us has to do with us. So yes, please cross the road; bunny-hop there if you want to as well.
“Maybe they cross the road because you’re Black. And Ugly”
You mean ugly to her, right? Because no way I’m “objectively” ugly lol have you seen my face? I would describe it as many things, but “ugly” definitely isn’t one of them.
Ask my girl Shay; she’ll tell you 😉
LOCK YOUR DOORS
I remember one day I was walking home from work (late afternoon). There was a car parked by the sidewalk I usually use. I was busy on my phone, minding my own business when I heard the car doors lock — just as I passed (the car).
Now, look, I’m not saying they locked their doors because of me lol but it wouldn’t be far-fetched to tally that as a possibility. Considering the fact that they had been parked in that same spot for well over a minute and then decided to lock their doors as I was passing by lol (not before — not after)
Some would go as far as calling that racism, because the driver’s actions imply they think I’ll car-jack them. Maybe. Again, there’s no way to know for certain. There’s enough evidence to build a theory/argument but no solid foundation to confidently stamp a judgment.
Perhaps they always lock their doors, and by seeing me — the only pedestrian at the time –they were reminded to lock their doors.
Perhaps their doors were already locked, and the sound I heard was them unlocking — I can’t identify the difference personally.
As I said before, there are too many interpretations and possibilities to consider for me to confidently commit to one. (racial prejudice is still one of those possibilities)
But you wanna know what I say to all this?
“Go ahead and lock your doors, Sir/Madame. Lock them tight. Double-check if you have to”
If you see a person (from your race or a different one) walking whilst you’re alone in your car and you feel threatened? Please lock your doors, you have nothing to prove by keeping them open. I and many others won’t think of you as racist or weak. Because who knows, had the roles been reversed, I’d probably lock my doors too once I saw you.
It’s not racism to simply practice basic survival skills in the urban jungle. That’s like walking around dropping 100-dollar bills (Hensel and Gretel style) to help me find my way home and expecting to see each and every one of them on my way back. Also, consider the possibility that I AM a super black mugging man; then that would make you correct (in that particular instance). Or maybe I’m not. Truth is, no matter what I tell you, only I know myself and I can’t expect you to NOT lock your doors to prove you’re NOT racist to me or yourself.
So yes, lock your doors Sir/Madame.
Word of advice though. If you’re trying to be safe, maybe try not to wait until someone is literally by your car to lock said doors. That’s just being reckless and taking “adventure” to an unnecessarily high level. Had I been a carjacker, your timing would have been sloppy. I would have gotten into your car, and asked you to leave (politely, of course) with a drumstick in one hand and a coke-stained gun in another. I would wear my hood, start playing rap music and talking about my grind in the hood. I would talk about white privilege as the reason for all my misfortune, starting with the stomach-ache I’ll be having as I drive your car away. Not at all to do with my poor hygiene, oh no, everything can be blamed on someone else.
Then you could go home and tell your family that everything those films and news outlets say about black people is correct.
You don’t need to thank or pay me for giving you this world-shattering advice. It’s free. You can, however, repay me by continuing to lock your doors. You can even leave them open for people that look like you. Just keep watch for the drumstick man with a hoodie and a loaded 9mm. That’s the real danger right there.
Art by: Pegaite