In light of the most recent shooting events in Dallas, and then seeing so many people talk about racism on social media, I felt that I wanted to speak up. I usually just skip these topics because in my own mind I don't think about the color of people's skin and I write off racist acts as crazy people out there that need to be in mental institutions.
But I wanted to share that even though I am white my life wouldn’t be what it is without the black men that have been in my life. In fact, I would say that the men who have been true leaders that have invested in my life have been mostly black and in one case Hispanic.
I first visited the Southern States of the US in about 1997 or 1998, I can’t remember exactly now. But I had flown from Seattle with my boyfriend at the time to New Orleans where we would then make a road trip to Florida. I remember we stopped at a truck stop diner along the way for dinner. I was thankful I was with him because I got a lot of strange looks from the men and I wasn’t used to that because in Seattle, men are not that direct.
I remember my boyfriend went to the restroom for a moment and I was going to buy mints and gum. I waited in line at the counter and suddenly I heard the women that was working there say really loudly in a southern drawl, “MAM, MAM, I will help you over here MAM!” Suddenly, I was overly aware of my surroundings and I realized I was at the wrong counter for my skin color. There was a line of black people with wide worried eyes looking at me like I had better get out of the line or something was about to go down.
I paid for my things and left and I was in shock. Because honestly I thought that sort of thing only existed in the movies.
Rewind to 1985, my parents had divorced and my dad wasn’t around much for awhile. But my mom’s boyfriend was there for a short time and going into middle school I needed a man’s advice about how to handle things. He taught me about what music I needed to listen to in order to be cool, he taught me how to dance and I thought he was amazing. I never once thought about the fact that he was black.
Fast forward to my mother trying to help us get on our feet, we were poor and she couldn't afford much for us to live in. But it was clear we needed to get out of the depressing apartment we lived in. My mom was going to University and she happened to meet a man in one of her classes. He as married and had a family of his own to raise but that man bought a house so that my mom could rent from him and we would have a house instead of an apartment to live in. We didn’t have much money at all and it is a time in my life I don’t like giving much thought to. But this man invited us into his home, I babysat his kids and we shared Thanksgiving together. It never crossed my mind that he happened to be black.
I grew up in an area where there were a lot of white and black people and I honestly never gave it much thought. My first best friend in middle school happened to be black but I didn’t give that much thought either. I used to play basketball and would practice every day with my friends who happened to be black. I just never gave it any thought and I still don't.
When I was younger I attended a private school until about age 12. I think we had maybe one black student in the entire school, his name was John and he was to me the coolest guy in school. I didn’t see that he was black I saw that he was an older student that would come volunteer and help the younger students out and so I looked up to him.
I could go on and talk about those who believed in me to create my own organization, become an author and travel and speak., those I looked up to and wanted to be like none of them are white. If it weren't for the the black men and women in my life I wouldn't be even close to as successful as I am today.
When I moved to Texas I was actually shocked that racism was THAT out there. I mean I know that to a degree it existed in Seattle but I had not seen anything like Texas. I can honestly say for the first time in my life I personally experienced being in the presence of a racist, spewing hatred I didn’t even realize existed among educated people.
What is also odd about Texas is that wherever you go there are these signs up that state it is a “racist free zone”. In my mind it is racist if it even crosses your mind. If you think that you have to create a racist free zone there is a major problem. A racist free zone would be where nobody thinks about it.
Want to know something even more interesting? When my dad had his DNA tested, we discovered we are many races, including black. If your a racist be careful with those DNA tests because you soon find out that we are all related. You may have a culture, I may have mine but at the end of the day it’s one big melting pot and I am one of those that happen to be pretty much everything. I always joke that the song "We are the world" is really about me personally. haha
I think that racism stops when you realize that people are people. We aren’t that different. Sure we are raised within different cultures, beliefs, countries etc. But we are all just people.
Closing by adding a Facebook post by a young man, who wanted to share his recent story here in Texas with me on SnapChat. I thought is was worth sharing because it shows a young man's discovery that people are just people. We need to get to the point where we realize people come in every shape, size, culture and accent. As people on this planet we are not different species (although sometimes people act like it). We all want to be unique and different but those differences are about bringing a greater dimension and appreciation for life...not limiting it.
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