In 2016 there is still anger, and hate, and racism. Moving out of the South I figured I could escape some of it, but the reality is that it's everywhere. I usually write about more light-hearted topics (and you know, my outfit) but after reading about the Chicago protestors at the Trump rally this past week I had to share some of my experiences.
I made the mistake of watching Fox News during the Presidential Election back in 2008. During those final moments I watched Fox News anchors try to argue their way out of announcing that President Barack Obama had won. I was sitting in my dorm room listening to the ruckus in the hallway. The sorority girls and their boyfriends running up and down the hall banging on the doors yelling "Is it John McCain?"
Then I remembered that I was in the middle of South Carolina. (Deep sigh)
I watched in excited as Barack Obama was announced as President, and then my joy was immediately stifled by racial slurs being screamed down the hallway. "He's a fuckin' Nigger! How could he win?!"
I thought to myself how someone can become our President, the leader of the free world, and still be just "a fuckin nigger" to an American citizen. I poorly assumed that this distasteful outcry would be one isolated incident. BUT IT WASN'T AND YOU KNEW THAT.
There was a noose hanging in front of our student union the next day. Thousands of students walked by it. Not only was it incredibly offensive and a true statement of the racial climate on our campus- but moreover- it hung there for HOURS. It hung heavy like the history it brought to mind. That noose hung there long enough to be photographed and placed as front page news for the schools newspaper the same day. I guess covering a field in cotton balls as "just a joke" wasn't enough.
I called a few black peers and asked them if they would be going to class. All of them said no. The fear of walking to own your class (that you paid for/ STILL paying for) to avoid conflict with countless people who are upset about a black president. That's what racism feels like.
In my childhood it was being spoken "at" and not spoken "to" as if eye contact is just too much to ask. It's the day when your school friend invites you to their home and then their grandfather- whilst standing in the same room- tells the friend to pass along a message: "Tell your little friend they need to leave." It's being the only black person in a history class and having to answer questions about "the N word" as if you are the representative voice of the black community. In 2015 it's walking into a restaurant and being skipped over and over again, and not acknowledged as a customer. It's being the token black friend. It's being told your whole life that "white people are against you, so you have to achieve twice as much to get half the recognition" and praying that this time it wouldn'tbe true.
On the days after the election, I remember small riots. I remember racist comments on community 'listserv" emails and being asked to "boycott" a white student from a predominately black program. I remember apologetic emails from the Director of Undergraduate affairs asking us to be "tolerant" of change.
Not to be accepting, not to stay open-minded, but tolerant. Tolerate the new president as if he were a personal nuisance like a snoring roommate. Tolerate our nations new leader and changes that he may bring.
It's 2016. The few people who have a growing hatred in their heart have now been given a world platform to voice passive racism, classism, fascism, and a million other -isms. Those few folks on Facebook who you have deleted as friends have felt those feelings for a long while. The political race can go on and on but hatred is here with us every day. It's a learned behavior.
There is a movement boiling and movements aren't always peaceful. There should be chaos. There should be outrage. There should be protest. I can't wait to see what will happen next.
What does racism look like to you today? Do you believe that the next generation will have the level of division that we have today? Are the current social movements making the difference? Comment below.