When I was 15, I fell in love with a funny, goofy guy who played tuba in the high school band. It would’ve been a normal story about high school sweethearts except I had done something that was still considered a social taboo in the late 80s – he was a black guy. In the eyes of my social circles, I had committed a major faux pas. As a result, I was looked at differently. People said and did ugly things to me. They spoke badly about me behind my back. Not just the kids at school, but the adults around me as well. I was told I was a n*gger lover, that I was going to hell. My friends felt I had betrayed them and no longer spoke to me. Guys thought that put me in a different category of girl – one who would put out even though I had never given guys that impression before. I started getting anonymous notes shoved into my locker about what was going to be done to me. I was shunned.
This was 30 years ago. 30. years. ago. Not 50-60 years ago during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Not 45 years ago at the height of the busing era. 30. Madonna was singing Like a Prayer. Bush, Sr. was President, and everyone was watching The Cosby Show.
But watching a black family on TV was different than dating someone from a black family in the eyes of the first generation that had started their school career in integrated schools.
That impression that had been introduced to me when I was 15 stayed with me for a long time.
It followed me when I dated a couple of really sweet guys, but was forced to end it because of their color.
It followed me later when I dated guys after high school. Telling a guy in the Bible Belt South that I had dated black boys in high school was the equivalent of them finding out I had killed someone.
Why do I say anything now?
Because it still follows me. It follows me in the way white people around me talk about black people because they assume that since I’m a white girl, it’s okay. It’s not okay.
Don’t tell me why you wouldn’t move into a neighborhood with black families. It’s not okay.
Don’t tell me what you think when young black people get into trouble because most of time, what you say about young black people getting into trouble is different than what you would say if a young white person got into trouble. It’s not okay.
Don’t tell me what you would do if some “black thug” tries to break into your house. There’s no difference between a black man breaking into your house or a white man breaking into your house. There’s no need to always describe a thief as black. It’s not okay.
Please quit calling black people n*ggers in front of me. I don’t care if you try to explain yourself by saying that’s what they call each other. You don’t get to use that term. It’s the fucking 21st century. It’s not okay.
Do not assume I agree with your political leanings/opinions that either border on social injustice or flat out support it simply because I am a white girl. It’s not okay.
Racism has long, twisted visible and invisible tendrils. It still exists and is just as powerful. Don’t tell me it ended with the Civil Rights Act.
It’s not okay.