Sunday, January 15, 2012
A couple of months ago, I received the following email. I don't think it needs comment from me to get the point across, do you?
"Hi. I'm in your Racial and Ethnic Relations class. I recently had an experience and I don't know what to make of it. I had to bring my son to turn in a paper and...as I was walking around campus with my son in his stroller, I started to notice the way people were looking at me. I knew the look because you get it from teachers and co-workers all the time. It's that look people give you when they are associating your race with some kind of negativity. I've been getting that look my whole life so I know it when I see it.
"I could tell that they figured me to be a single mother on welfare or something, that I might as well give up on school because I was going to drop out eventually anyway. It's weird because no one said that to me. I just felt it from the look people were giving me.
"To my amazement...I literally started to feel anxious to get back in the car because I knew what people were thinking. I started to feel like I was that person.
"There's nothing wrong with being single or on government assistance. That's not the part that made me feel like that. It was knowing that these people figured me to be nothing more than another Black statistic. How could the way people look at me make me feel that way? I know in my head what I am. I've been married for almost four years. My husband makes good money. I'm a good person. So, I thought I must be crazy.
"When I told my husband, he said, 'No, you're not crazy. I know exactly what you mean.' He told me that when he brought our son with him to talk to one of his former teachers, he felt the same way. He said he felt like a drop out, like another Black statistic, even though he graduated with an accounting degree two year ago and is CPA certified. I have a feeling it was because I'm Black and he's Black.
"When we see a young White woman with a child on campus, we assume that it's her brother or sister. Or if we do assume that it's her child, we don't assume the worst about her...There is so much power behind racism that it has the ability to make you believe that you are something you're not. Sometimes, the way people look at you can make you feel like a nothing. Sometimes, it makes you feel as if you can work hard all your life, but you will still be seen the same."
NOTE: The above photo is only for illustration purposes and is not a photo of the woman who wrote this email.