Poetry and personal blog – Spilling my guts to strangers

Post-Racial America

When I was creating my “About” page for this blog, I had to really think about whether to mention my age (I’m 49) and my race. My ultimate conclusion is that the most important thing about me is that I am human and of the female sex. Species and sex say the most about how a being functions in life.

But so many in the US take one look at me and form a preliminary opinion because I am African American, and because I am African American, I tend to see things from a particular perspective. These attitudes are not inherent to mankind but rather are manmade.

Our President Obama is the poster child for American post-racialness. But although we are nearly the same age, I doubt he has experienced America as I did growing up. I suspect there’s a difference between being an American with an African parent like Obama and being an American with roots in Africa and only three or so generations away from slavery, like me. Born and raised in the Northeast, I was not in Indonesia but rather in the hood staying away from the windows so as to avoid stray bullets during the riots of 1967. As a 7-year-old, I didn’t really understand the racial complexities of the situation, but during that time I cultivated a fear and distrust of the police that hovers beneath the surface even today.

A couple of years after that, I was called a nigger for the first, and frankly, the only time–to my face that is–by some white kid who had his mother’s full support. I remember the moment of feeling my blackness sitting on top of my skin like a bas relief. Of course, I’ve experienced racism many, many, many, many times since then. Yes, America, this is what it’s like to be black: Although we hate to do it, black people deal with racism as an integral part of life.

Yet despite all of that, I have never thought of race as something that hinders what I can do or achieve. For this attitude I have to thank my mother who was so strong and ahead of her time. Race was never a topic of  discussion (the down side was I had to figure this out on my own) but education was always a major priority: Getting a college degree, which I have, was never a question. She exposed me to all types of literature, art, and music–and as a result, I tend to draw from my inner reserve rather than rely on my outer appearance.

So, to summarize, I’m black enough to feel guilty about not mentioning it here before, but post-racial enough to want to remind you that being a black women is not a monolithic concept. I’m wide open and willing to go where this process leads me. You may or may not know what is going to come out of my mouth next.

© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2009.

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Comments on: "Post-Racial America" (11)

  1. Allow me to be the first to comment this blog. You have seen my pictures, it doesn’t get whiter than me. So much so that some of the African American men who I have waited on in jobs I have had call me, “Ms. White” I didn’t take that as a racial thing toward me, perhaps it was…but I joke about looking like a terminal W.A.S.P. and make fun of just how scary white I am-even to other white people. Anywho..if you don’t care what color I am, or even if you do…I don’t care what color you are. People are people to me, no matter what color they are. We all bleed red, we all want and need love, we all get sick, we all die. We are one race…humans. Much love, and Namaste.

    • I agree with you, Lady, about us being one race. Unfortunately, race/ethnicity matters a great deal to society as a whole. It’ll be up to people like us to break down that barrier.

  2. […] Post Racial America Editor, Writer, or Poet? Audience of One (In this post, I was supposed to be talking to myself, ie, my own audience) In Real Time Women and Children My name is… […]

  3. […] post I feel didn’t get the attention it deserved is Post-Racial America. Actually, maybe it’s the most controversial one and the reason why people were reluctant to […]

  4. I have not grown up in a racist society so to me people are people, black, white, yellow, rich, poor, christian, muslim, hindu……. regardless. It is what is under the skin and in the heart is the only thing that matters.

  5. We are post racial in ways, and still very racial in ways. I live in the south and see it every living day, and it sickens me. I like people for who they are, and love you just the way you are Adriene.
    ~cath xo

  6. We want to move on with the race issue but others sometimes drag us back in. I am Hispanic, and my house use to have a recorded telephone message in both Spanish and English. Then one day we got a recorded message where I was called a “spic” and was told to go back to “my country” or else they would come over and kill me and my family. This probably was just a tasteless joke, but now our recorded phone message is only in English. It won’t cease to be an issue for us until it ceases to be an issue for others.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. It is important for people to hear about the prejudices others endure in their lives to open their eyes to the reality of what goes on in the world…still today. Sadly, I don’t believe we are living in a post-racial society. Mass incarceration seems to be the new racial caste system we live under today. One in which we must speak out against. Thank you again for sharing. Please continue (and I love your poetry :))

    • I really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment, Kate. There is still so much work to do on this front but I’m hopeful that if we haven’t crossed into post-racialism yet, maybe we are at the cusp of that awakening, which will translate into real change. xx

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