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Comments

Kim

What a thoughtful and honest post Katurah. We still have so far to go, and it shames me as an American and as a mother. Just all so tragic.

Crystal

As a white female in America, I have no idea what it feels to be black. Honestly, I get very touchy when talking about race and especially touchy when talking about race and crime. One thing I am not is ashamed to be an American.

As a mother, my heart breaks for this young boy and his family. I cannot even imagine the heartbreak and pain this overzealous man has caused them. Even more that the man who did this is still free.

Amy

I agree the whole thing is horrific.
I can relate to your son - or my mother could - after living in Ibadan, Nigeria and Pretoria my entire life until the age of 4, we moved to Montreal. I was not a happy camper until the morning the cleaning lady from Ghana showed up to clean our hotel room and I could not be peeled off her.

Melissa

I think that you and I need to put aside our fears about being dismissed... In my case, I can't afford not to reach out.

Georgia

We have lived in many places in the world, even in America, we have lived in neighbourhoods where my children were the white minority and my son was teased for being white on the school bus. My second son used to draw himself with dark brown skin because he wanted to have skin like our coloured friend who lived with us, like his friends at school. That was years ago. Since then we have been privileged (in some ways) to live in a very affluent town, where most of the faces around us are white and where the coloured people from the towns either side of us are often struggling financially too. Where my children pick up the subtle racism at school. About "mexicans", about "blacks". And it makes me slightly sick to know that they now have this narrow view of the world. I don't know how tofight this change in their views...most of the time they don't even realise that they have said something racist; it's just how they talk with their friends. When asked directly they say they don't mean it, but the saying of it is what spreads these views. Racism is so subtle.
Good post Katurah, I have also been sickened by what happened in Florida.

vicki

Wow. This was an amazing post. Sad to read but, so moving. Thank you for making me really think about this today.

Alina

Great post, not what we are having to witness but great that it is being talked about. We all need to be speaking up about this!

Robyn

It is so true what you say about dialogue. It is desperately needed. I am half black half white and married to a black man, yet I still have to remind myself that those black guys standing on the corner are just regular people like me and not drug dealers or criminals. I grew up in Tulsa, a place where one of the worst race riots in our country's history took place. It is a pretty segregated city still, but people are friendly. But that's the problem. We're friendly, but you know which neighborhoods to avoid, where the blacks and latinos live. And people put a smile on, but when you're the only black family in a white middle class neighborhood, the smile isn't quite so big. Throw in that I'm muslim, and the smile might as well be gone. All this is why it is so hard for me to realize that, even being married to a well educated black man, I can still wonder if this neighborhood we're driving through is safe because it is an all black neighborhood. And the reason I feel that way? Not because I have personally ever had a bad experience in a black neighborhood. I have family that live in these neighborhoods; I went to a magnet school that was in one of those neighborhoods. It's because we are constantly bombarded with images and news about crime and drugs and gangs that involve black people. So much so that even black people can begin to wonder if it's true. And even in neighborhoods where middle class black families live, those neighborhoods are also looked at with suspicion because they might know someone who does drugs or is in a gang. Let's not forget the thinking of" why are those black people more successful than me" from certain segments of the white communities. That stems back from civil war times and still holds true today. And people want to claim that affirmative action is now reverse racism. Again, this is a trhowback to civil war times. I think we've got to stop assuming that black communities have the onus of assuaging others fears. White people don't feel the need to say, oh my neighborhood is safe even though there was a meth lab found in the house down the street last week. Black people shouldn't have to do that. I understand assumptions. They give a way of seeing things when going into an unknown situation. But when all the assumptions are all the negative things instead of the positive ones, that's where our problem lies. We have to face down these negative assumptions, whatever race. I have come to understand that people might see me in a certain light. It is sad, but true. Instead of making that person feel bad, I try to smile at them, say hi, try to put them at ease. It also puts me at ease, like the time I had to ask directions from two black teenagers because I got on the wrong bus and didn't knwo which one to get on. They wore hoodies, the neighborhood wasn't the best. But I was lost and needed help. I smiled and asked them for help. They helped me. And it probably made them feel good that I trusted them enough to approach them and I trusted that they would be helpful. I had to overcome any assumptions I had. And really, thr situation was completely safe and fine. It was all the conditioning that made me think it might be otherwise. It is something I am aware of and continually try to address, especially knowing that someone could one day see me in the same light. I think that is how we begin to overcome. Be willing to face our assumptions.

Elizabeth

I have a daughter that is bi-racial and we live in the very white-est part of Alabama. My daughter has struggled since she was very young to try and understand why there is very minimal positive representation of people of color in movies and television. She told me once when she was four "the whole world is white" - she struggles to believe that this is not true - that there are many more people of color. She struggles for where to fit in at school - she struggles with her white friends and their mainstream racism, which they don't even notice, but which cuts her to the quick. She struggles with her black friends and their reluctance to trust any white person as a friend. She has to consciously resist the river of racism against our Latino population and face her own feelings when she is mistaken as Latino. It's insidious and resisting it feels like trying to keep water in your hand.

Em

Let me also add a story from my experiences on "the other side of town":

Minding my own business, picking up my oldest from a middle/high school campus, we were driving down the school driveway. Alongside our mini van was the sidewalk with students, yes, predominantly black high school students, walking beside our vehicle. The windows were rolled down in the van, and my toddler was sleeping in his carseat next to the window when I overhead two black male students saying, "Look over there at that mean little white boy." They were looking in my van at my child. They said it more than once and laughed. I turned the other cheek.

I'm sure, somewhere along the way, their heads have been filled with the ideas that white people are mean. I know there is hatred spewed towards whites from blacks. Is that any better? How will you explain that to your children? Are they to blame for some cockamamy whites in history whom you do not agree with? It's a new form of slavery where society, or at least some FEARFUL intolerants in society, attempt to try to make people for guilty for things they didn't even do. I'm sick of being told and my children being told that I should be ashamed for being a white American and that I and my children owe the rest of the world the opportunity to enslave me because of their own lust for "restitution".

The bad feelings will only continue if ALL sides cannot get over themselves and just love one another.

Em

Did you erase my comments? I understand this is your private blog, and it is your right.

But to me, if you did remove my comments, you have made your intolerance and fear of people different from you to be quite clear. No wisdom in that. Best wishes.

luckybeans

Dear Em, I did not erase any comments from this post, and can only assume there was an error with Typepad? I tried to email a response, but the email was invalid.

This issue is ugly; there is hatred, fear and injustice from all angles. It is a symptom of cultural illness that has permeated deeply into the very heart of all of us. I don't like being blamed for slavery either. There is a lot of anger here, so being able to have meaningful dialogue and really listen to one another, is so important. And being able to move forward requires different things from all of us; acknowledgement, forgiveness, the ability to look forward instead of back. And yes, most importantly, the ability for all of us to "get over ourselves and just love one another." Well said.

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