“If young people would talk to old people, it will make us a better people all around. If old people would talk to young people, it will make us a better people all around.” That is the chorus of one of India.Aire’s songs and I couldn’t agree more!Being the youngest of three and the only girl, I spent a lot of time with my mom, older relatives and their friends. I’ve never felt as if it was some sort of cruel punishment as my peers did. In fact, I enjoyed the time spent with my elders. There were sooo many lessons, stories, and experiences shared with me that helped me become the young, Black woman I am.
They are more than willing to share with me their childhoods, teenage years, and things they continued to learn. I’ve always been one to not only learn from my experiences and mistakes, but those of others.
Civil Rights, slavery and my Black people’s history have always fascinated me. The struggles we have gone through and the accomplishments we have made and continue to make always inspire me to better myself. When I hear about a personal story of experiences during those times, it seems to hit home as if I were in those moments I hear about.
My mom, for example, was in the 10th grade when Brown v. Board of Education forced her to integrate. She would share with me how some of the White children would talk and act negatively toward her and her peers. She shared the reality of ‘White Only’ restaurants and how she overcame that time in her life.
Think that era is over? Well, it isn’t! Just this semester I experienced racism first hand on different occasions.
Feb. 12, two of my peers and I arrived in Memphis to embark on what we felt would be an enlightening conference. Our excitement left approxiately two hours after we arrived. Walking down the sidewalk in downtown Memphis, two White boys ride by and yell, “YOU N—–S!” They U-turned and intelligently yelled, “YOU’RE STILL F*@#ING N—–S!” Some welcome to Memphis.
Feel like that was too far away to affect you? As I prepared to leave Pecanland Mall at it’s closing March 14, I witnessed an image that put me along side my elders that lived in the Civil Rights era. I looked back to see armed police officers surrounding a group of Black teens on a wall outside the mall, while the Whites walked freely back and forth. My excitement from buying a new outfit was replaced with anger and frustration!
How could these youth allow themselves to be subjected to this? Have we not risen above such acts? Do they even realize what is actually going on? Do their parents know their children are being treated this way? Better yet, do the children or their parents even care? So many thoughts and images of the times my peers and I only read about came flooding my mind.
April 25 in Ruston, my friends and I were enjoying a Raising Cane’s meal when a bus of high school baseball players stoped in to grab a bite after their game. One of my friends said some encouraging words to a Black student on the team, unaware that the White coach signaled to the boy not to talk to him and to sit.
The coach was unaware that one of my other friends witnessed the whole event. At that moment my friend suggested that we leave! My friend couldn’t get to the car because she was upset that she hadn’t stood up for her young Black brother.
She immediately turned and reentered to let the coach know that she saw everything that went down. “He wasn’t going to harm that child. He is one of his [Black] people,” she said. The coach, shockingly, denied the whole event.
How many of us are passionate enough to stand up for our people? I’m not racist.
I just want us to realize that racism is still alive. Just because President Obama is in office, that doesn’t excuse the fact! We have to fight back positively. Together as a people, we can make a better humanity.
My message to my people is to challenge yourselves everyday to be a better ‘you’. Educate. Uplift. Live happy. Love.