Perception of Blackness

Speaking only for myself, I want to express what it has been for me to be black in America.

As far back as I can remember, whether on TV or in real life, racism existed. I’m not sure what to think when people say black people can’t be racists, because unfortunately I grew up with a dad who talked against other races. He didn’t care most for white people and lectured us many times about slavery and oppression brought on by, “the white man”. My dad was born and raised on the dirt roads and woods of Holt, Alabama, the deep south. He was one of 13 children. His mother died when he was only thirteen years old and he was put out to fend for himself soon after. I, however did not take on his beliefs but decided to love or like people according to who they are and how they treat me.

Fortunately, my other five siblings and my mom, are not racist either. Both my brothers dated outside of our race, with my late oldest brother and his wife giving life to beautiful biracial children. But let me go back. While in high school, my best friends included two of the funniest, kindest white kids I ever met, Micah House and (the late), Sherry Geer Delacruz. Although Sherry is gone, I still love both of them with all my heart thirty plus years later. As an young adult, I became a nurse and there was no room for bias. I treated all my patients and their families with dignity and respect.

When I had children of my own, I tried to teach them not to see color when they were young. But I knew, the older they got, I needed to teach them to love their Blackness. It was important for them to love themselves in a world where they would be treated different. When social media first put a spotlight on police shootings of an unarmed black man, my kids were at the end of high school. So consumed with school, prom, graduation, and family hardships, sadly, we heard it but didn’t focus on it. When the murder of Trayvon Martin was caught on video and his murderer was set free, my kids were angry and in tears. We had to sit down and talk about what that meant for them as teens going into young adulthood.

Before they were old enough to drive we taught them what to do if they were ever pulled over by the police. Unfortunately, a few years later, my nephew, son, and niece were pulled over no more than a block from my sister’s house. My nephew and niece were visiting from Colorado and he was unfamiliar with the narrow stretch of road he was on. They were so scared, my niece was in tears but thank God, they knew to keep their hands where they could see them, said yes sir and no sir, follow instructions, and make no sudden moves. When we arrived on the scene, the cops were running the kids social security numbers over and over again. After being asked who we were, we were told to remain in our vehicle. A minute later we were surrounded by three loads of police cars. They were searching for something to charge one of the kids with but they were clean. Long story short, they ticketed them and after detaining us all at the scene for over an hour, and being very rude, aggressive, and unprofessional, they let them go.

Needless to say, we had to have a deeper conversation. They were terrified, angry, and confused as to why they were so mistreated by those who were supposed to protect and serve. Their first time being stopped by the police and they were racially profiled, treated like criminals, and disrespected. Til this day, my son does not like driving anywhere. I recall having a conversation with him about the murder of George Floyd and he said, “They’re just going to keep getting away with it.” So sad.

For that reason alone, being black in America is difficult at times for me. But you can either hide away or live unapologetically in your truth. I choose the latter! God is such a huge part of my life. I think I would live in total fear if it weren’t for my faith in the Lord. We know faith without works is void. I work everyday to be a better version of the person I was yesterday. Life as a black business woman is more accepted today than in 2008 when I started my journey with Val’s Gifts of Warmth. I’m not saying that systemic racism is gone or being black in America is easy but I will say that with our culture taking a front seat in today’s society, it has gotten easier to lift our heads and show the world our talents, achievements, and success. I plan to continue to succeed and make my mark on this world as a black women in America. Not for me but for my children, grand children, and future generations.

Thanks for reading!


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