I remember the first time I was called a racist. I was holding the hand of my then-boyfriend, whom happened to be black. We were in downtown Anchorage going to different art galleries, which was something he really enjoyed. I was 20; what did I know of art? I was just head-over-heels in love with this guy, and whatever he said about art and music, I it loved too. It’s hard to think that I was ever that moldable, haha!
So, here I was, happily holding his hand and staring intently at him, when I hear a lady start yelling. Next, I heard the word “Racist”…it hit me like what?! Huh? How? All of her anger was spilling out onto me; it was literally like she had thrown stinky poopy mud on me. I was so surprised, I literally just stood there. Then, my boyfriend pulled me away and we had the first conversation about being hated for the color on my skin. She didn’t feel I had the right to date a man who’s skin color didn’t match mine. I simply couldn’t see, and still don’t see, how that matters to anyone. My view is that each and every one of us is a Child of God. I remember him telling me that when he looks in the mirror, he doesn’t see a black man, he just saw himself. This is just how I saw it too, and It has been all the more profound to me over the years. He had put thought into race issues and had concluded that the color of skin just wasn’t important; what’s important was how we treat others, how we thought, what we thought about. He was exceptional at this.
When my maternal Grandma said we were a “higher class” than him, I reminded her that I am a trucker’s kid with broken down cars in my yard and let her know that he was Ivy League Educated with a trust fund. I said “I am pretty sure I am from the lower class.” She slapped me across my face. From what I have heard, I have the distinction of being the only person Grandma ever slapped. I am oddly proud of that.
The next time I was called a racist was a few years later when I was working as a manager for a security systems sales job (yes, I’ve had a ton of varied jobs. Makes sense as I started working at 8 years old). I chose not to hire a candidate for a few reasons, skin color was not a factor. He felt I had wronged him and was prejudiced. He actually took me to small-claims court calling me a “farting” racist!” Yes, I substituted the first word. I feel his claims were baseless, especially because he had the same skin color as I do. He showed the type of character he had as he flipped me off in court, and his claims were dismissed. He was actually ordered to pay me $80. I am still owed that money, haha.
Another experience was in 2008 when I was asked who I voted for. It wasn’t for President Obama, therefore, my neighbor said “Wow, I didn’t know you were a racist.” I told her I was worried about government spending and thought that President Bush had spent too much money and was concerned that we would see inflation if the spending wasn’t controlled. I was right. I am still right. I didn’t love the guy I voted for, but I thought maybe perhaps he was slightly better? The point is, for the 3rd time in my life, I was called a racist.
I lived in the inner-city of Washington DC and I went to a church where most people there did not share my skin tone. I was let go from a job I interpreted ASL at because I was “too white”. I have also been in rooms where I was the only person of my skin color and I was treated as an equal. I was almost gang raped and my life was saved by a homeless black man that I had befriended at the drug rehab center I was interpreting at. I saw racism, I saw equality, I saw hate, and I saw love. The more Hollywood made movies glamourizing that world, the more it is said to young black kids (like the ones we went camping with because they had never been out of the city) that their world was all there was. We giggled at how the rustling of woods scared them because those were new sounds, sounds they weren’t accustom to. It was funny, and it was sad.
Some of these kids went on to college. One was needlessly murdered in a situation of unfortunately being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I interpreted at a children’s hospital and saw gunshot wounds on kids. It had nothing to do with skin tone. It was living in a bad place and them not able afford to move out of the projects. White people were there too. Living in a hell hole makes you think that hell is normal; like my kids that were scared in the woods, but don’t even flinch when they hear other sounds that made me want to hide.
In 2020, I did the “week of listening” on social media. I even made it a matter of prayer to see if I needed to root out any racism. Nope. I am not racist. When people assume that I am Hispanic, I love it. I’m not sure what all of my genetics are, but I am mostly welsh from my dad’s side. I looked at the BLM website and saw what they said, what they stood for. Marxism and the breakdown of the nuclear family. After seeing that, I will never support that organization. I have stood for hours in a hospital waiting room, waiting with the deaf mom or dad, waiting for them to be seen and heard. I’ve seen people as they fell to the floor after being told that nothing else could be done…I saw that. My hands had to sign those words to people. A stray bullet or a fire lit by meth that burns a child to death is not caused by skin tone. It is caused by really stupid choices that some people make.
I have been called a racist in the last couple of years. It is ridiculous. “Your inner demons are a reflection on you, not me.” A few weeks ago, my daughter was called “racist”. Why? Because she said she thought Asian guys were super cute. Seriously? She voiced a type and therefore she is racist? I have heard so many claims of racism in the last couple of years…more than I have ever heard in my life! Saying the word “racist” has become trendy. I believe that the words we use become our reality. Our children are hearing all that is going on. They want to fit in, they want to say what the adults are saying. The word “racist” is losing its meaning because it’s being thrown around so frequently. Lets save it for what it really means; someone who hates another for the color of their skin. That is the meaning. It should be a despicable thing, not a label for someone who doesn’t agree with you. In our search for tolerance, we have become intolerant.