Out of their Hole.

I went home to my home town last week. A place I spent 18 years of my life, I lived in the same house, on the same street all those years; and my mom still lives in that house on that street. At the end of my road and across the street sits a little white church with a sign out front that reads “God Save America Again.” Now that sign may seem annoying, ignorant even but nothing too out of the ordinary in Small Town America until you know one little thing about the people that enter that church every week. . . those people are known White Supremacists. They had their hey day in the 70’s and have been rather quite since but they are still there at the end of my street in my little hometown.

Now this has become a fun fact I share with people when they ask about my childhood. .. “Oh I lived in a small town, the only really note able thing about it is the white supremacist church.”  People will gasp and ask me how I handled that growing up… you know being a black woman and all.

But the funny thing is that I didn’t handle it, I didn’t have to handle it. They stayed down there on their end of the street and I felt as safe as any child could running around the town until all hours of the night. They never bothered me, there were no confrontations they simply stayed in their little church, probably hating my existence.But you know from inside their space I couldn’t have cared less about what went on inside their heads. Because as long as they stayed inside, some part of me knew that they understood the inappropriateness of what they were feeling. They knew they would be met with such resistance in this time in in America that they idea of coming “out” as what they truly were wouldn’t even cross their minds.

Flash Forward to today— 2017—- Small Town America—-

You would think we would have made progress right? Maybe that little white church has been closed up for the last year, maybe the people all scattered around the country, or with any luck made a friend of a different race and realized it was all just a lie.

Think again my friend, here we are in 2017 and for the first time in my life I felt unsafe in my hometown. The people in the little white church still ignored my presence, but someone else some stranger who has never met me and wouldn’t be able to pick me out of a line up felt they had the right to scream

WHITE POWER

At me out of the window of their car as I walked into Hobby Lobby. 

Wait, let me back up just a minute, yes you read that right. 2017, a northern state, a girl and her friends are walking into Hobby lobby to buy wedding supplies and out of no where a grown-ass man yells

WHITE POWER 

out of his window.

It was like my whole perception of my home town came crashing down like the ideals of democracy around me, this place that had always been safe and protective was now foreign and angry. Angry at me because what? I was born with black skin, because the sun doesn’t turn me an angry shade of red, because my hair reaches for the stars while yours falls flat, or angry because a black man in power did something the white men before or after him could not. .. turned so many aspects of the country around.

But there I was furious and hyperventilating in the hobby lobby parking lot, and as much as my friends wanted to help to tell me “anger and fear is what they want.”  or “Don’t let them get to you.”

They truly had no idea how that moment felt; eating away at my insides as I contemplated the true meaning of that statement; White Power . 

And over and over again  I came back to the same thing: 

These people have always existed, there hasn’t been a magical time in the last 40 years when there were no white supremacists in America, they have been stewing and hiding for 40 years waiting for their opportunity to come out of the shadows. Waiting for someone to validate their feelings again, that look all these dark skinned humans whom we have oppressed for hundreds of years have someone done us wrong feeling.

However over the last 40 years they saw the world do the exact opposite they saw a black man become president and the world embrace him they saw his wife become beloved and they had to continue to hide in their holes, angrily sipping on Bud Light and ranting about “if the confederacy had won” But something has shifted; they began to climb their way out of their holes, see the sun and once again think that they deserve so much more than I do simply because of the color of my skin. They were given the chance to once again be validated enough in their feelings that those nasty words; White Power aren’t just uttered in their Klandestine (yes the K is intentional) meeting but rather they have seen the power and they are welcomed back into the fold. 

And this is what truly made me the most sick about that sad, angry man who yelled at me that day. Not that he felt that way, because I am obviously not going to be the person to change his mind. But that he felt strong enough, that enough people would support him and that I was little enough so far below him that he could once again yell it in the streets.Because when these people are strong enough to climb out of their holes, when there are enough people in power that support them that tell them they will fix all their problems by “building a wall” that assure them the wrong doings they perceived against the White Man are legitimate then the real question is

Did the last 40 years even happen, or should I start looking for the colored drinking fountain.

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When you force me to choose- I fall decidedly into “Person of Color’

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I came across this article this morning on my way to 6 am yoga, ok no not like while I was driving but when I was in the parking lot trying to get up the courage to go inside, this is a daily occurrence at yoga.

I found this article and was immediate sucked in, it was like my soul mate the other half of my thoughts was living in Washington D.C teaching middle instead of Elementary school and had the wire right into my brain. I read every word and then took the brave move and shared it on facebook, now this is something that I normally reserve for cute videos of animals and occasionally  selfie of my new hair do, but never politically posts. . . I mean never. I am an avid facebook debate watcher. . but never a participator. But this spoke to me in a way that I cannot express.

Today is another day that you force me to choose which race I am and every time you make me choose I fall decidedly in Person of Color, I am a privileged person by any standard, not from the upper class but solidly privileged, I never had to worry about food at night, I was always feed, and had any opportunity that I wanted I played club volleyball at 2,000 dollars a year for 5 years. I graduated undergrad with zero school loan debt, and when I wanted to apply for a 30,000 dollar grad program my mom said, “Ok we will make it work.” I fully understand my privilege.

But I am also half black and this is the part of me that people see, this is my first impression, the black girl, I will still be greeted with the “You are such a white black girl” and ” you are really well spoken, where are you from.”

I will still be looked at differently when I walk down the street in a predominantly black neighborhood, or a white one, whether I am alone or with my very very white bearded fiance.

So I am privileged and I am black, that is the race I am forced to choose, I am forced to check a box over and over to choose my race. And this decision has been made more and more important in light of recent events, I can feel the pain of my students, when they run to me, and only me, the only black teacher at their school to tell me that Johnny called them a Nigger and that is why he punched him and got suspended.

I cry at night for the boys that I know that are already understanding the systematic movement from a general education classroom, because as a black male, the are more scary to their teachers when they get mad,

Because no matter how easy I had it growing up. People still view me as  a Black citizen, I am a statistic, my Black father walked out on us and left me with a single mother, I grew up in a town full of KKK members,I attended a good university and have move easily through life.

Some people want to attribute my failures to the color of my skin, but they also want to give my skin color my successes, I also got into that school because of affirmative action,  I only got that job because they needed to meet some arbitrary quota.

So if being black gets my successes and my failures, what do I get? I get to support the feelings of the rest of Black America,.

If this i the case I must choose being a Person of Color. And I must try and force all of the people around me to see the feelings the VALID feelings of this entire race of people. They cannot be swept under the rug, and turned into only a reason for violence. They cannot be labeled as Thugs and criminals for trying to express themselves in the only way that they know how, because they have been systematically taught that no one will hear them when they speak. They have not been taught the proper way to communicate, to debate, to speak on a politcal framework, because there is no one there to teach them, there are people there to shuttle them through 12 years to get them to the street or prison. To create a culture of Thugs.

So as an educated, privileged, BLACK women, I believe I have to, I have to say I choose you! And because someone taught me how to have these conversations because I was allotted these things from happen chance of birth, that I was born to a white single mom in a state where my color was subtly scoffed, and not openly punished. I have to take the time to stand up and say I hear you, at the very least I hear you!

Please Please Take the time to read the original article. she just wants you to listen. . . that is the very least you can do.

http://www.salon.com/2015/04/29/dear_white_facebook_friends_i_need_you_to_respect_what_black_america_is_feeling_right_now/

❤ Kelsi Rae