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In Case You Forgot, I’m Black

In elementary school, I was oblivious to racial issues. I was in classes with mostly white people. All of my best friends were white; they were my sisters and brothers. When I was in elementary school, I rarely heard about or dealt with racial issues.

It wasn’t until middle school that I knew something was different. There was a boy who always called me horrible names and made fun of my dark skin. Who does that? At the time I wasn’t aware, but what I experienced was racism.

When I was a teenager, I loved going to the mall and stores with my mom. One notable shopping experience happened when I was 14 or 15. My mom, my sister, and I had gone to Kmart. Because I got bored easily, I usually wandered around the store alone while my mom shopped. Usually I stayed in the book section, but I was curious about makeup, so I went to that aisle to look at all the different products. You know that weird feeling you get when someone is staring at you? I had that feeling. When I looked behind me, I saw an employee turn the corner really fast. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but when I made it to the next aisle over, the employee confronted me. I’ll never forget him. He was an older white guy with grey hair around the sides, and he wore round glasses. He demanded that I open my purse. I immediately started crying. . I didn’t know why he wanted me to open my purse, but I opened it anyway. I had lip gloss, my wallet, and a book in there. He demanded that I show him a receipt for my lip gloss–My half-used lip gloss. Through my tears, I told him that it was mine and that I didn’t have a receipt because my mom bought it from the pharmacy near my house. He huffed and walked away. I ran to find my mom and stopped wandering around stores for quite a while after that. I mean, I was so scared! I didn’t even tell my mom what happened. I was THAT scared. I thought I’d done something wrong.

Fast forward to later in high school. My group of friends was more diverse, but still included a lot of white people. Often, I had friends call me names like “Oreo” or “Black-white girl” because I “acted white.” I usually laughed with my friends about it, but I’d go home and cry. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. I felt like I wasn’t acting the way I was supposed to. I didn’t like the stereotypical black things and everyone pointed it out to me. In the same breath, those who called me the previously mentioned names also called me “clear.” They didn’t see me as black. What does that even mean?

All of this, among other things, led me to self-harm. I just didn’t want to be here anymore. I mean, my friends couldn’t even go a day without pointing out how different I was. I felt like a freak.

I’m now 27 and confident in my skin. I know who I am. When people tell me they don’t see color, I speak up. When people say something racist, I speak up. When people say things to me in an attempt to joke around because I’m not a “typical black girl,” I speak up. Yes, I’m black. Yes, my hair is kinky. No, you can’t touch it. When the cashier at Walmart decided that I didn’t deserve a proper greeting, but instead asked for my WIC payment information, I spoke up. When the random woman in the mall walked by and said,  “She is from Africa, look at the baby back there,” I spoke up. When the greeting card store employee followed me around the entire store, I spoke up.

I may not always share my personal struggles, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t deal with racism. I feel like people forget that I’m black. I do experience racism. I do experience judgment. Just because you’re white and you’re my friend doesn’t mean that every other white person in the world treats me the same loving way you do.

I don’t even know why I feel that I need to disprove the claims from many of my white friends who think I don’t experience racism. It’s probably because every time I post an article about racism, I get asked “Well, how does that affect you?” It’s probably because every time I post a status update about racism, I am told “Brittany, I love you, but I am tired of hearing about this all the time.” It’s probably because every time I post a picture about racism, I’m told “Hey, that is reverse racism!” Getting an insider’s view of what it is like to deal with racism in America is not an easy thing to digest. You’re not going to always want to see it. Be happy that you don’t have to live that every single day.

Hey friends? In case you forgot, I’m black.

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Agree to Disagree

So I often have conversations online with one of my Facebook friends that I know through Xanga. I subscribed to him first, then eventually just friended him. I enjoy talking to him most of the time. He is deeply religious…no, he is a Christian, he said he has no religion…and I am atheist.

 

Today we had a conversation about Planned Parenthood (PP.) I love the things PP does for everyone, especially since they were so helpful for me when I didn’t have health insurance. Soon, I will be without insurance again and I will once again be going back to PP.

 

Well you can read the conversation yourself, but I’m going to put a few excerpts from it here as well.  A couple things bothered me…well mostly him just telling me that I am flat out wrong because I don’t share his opinion bothered me.

 

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His status stated, “”Planned Parenthood”…if I was hearing of this organization for the first time, I would have thought it was a service that helped people who WANTED to be parents…not prevent it.”

My response was, ” If I heard it for the first time, I would think it was for planning your parenthood. All aspects of it. But I love the place. Helped me out so much when I didn’t have health insurance!”

He then replied, “That’d be great!! …if the place didn’t have a history of racial “purification”, sexism (namely against males), and DEATH in the name of convenience. I don’t give a rip what “help” they offer, as there are other ways to get the same help. There are Christian churches and other places that DO offer the same care or will help you get it.”

I then stated, “I highly doubt I could walk into a church and get a pap smear. Or birth control pills. That’s what they helped me out with. They also gave me tons of information on safe sex. This is back when I was 19 through 21 years old. They are actually wonderful people. Sure they have things against your beliefs but they help more than they hurt.”

It went on from there, of course. All of his responses for me were from his personal beliefs and experiences, which I can understand! That’s what I love about him! He is very firm in his beliefs and nothing can sway him. I just highly dislike that he does not accept the views, opinions, and experiences of others as justifiable.  He says that ” It’s a simple matter of common sense; of understanding the reality of choices, consequences, and what matters MORE.” In other words, if it is not a view he shares, it is wrong. Plain and simple. He is also very arrogant in his views. “So, yes, what I’ve stated is MY opinion, but it also equates to what IS true regardless of the opinion being expressed.” proves that.

After stating that we should agree to disagree, he can’t agree to disagree because my argument had no foundation to it whatsoever. He then went on to say, “You’re not interested in truth or what’s right. You’re in favor of killing babies before they’re even born even though they are INNOCENT? I would give my life to save that of a child who isn’t even MINE.”

Since he made his stance on abortion clear, that life is important no matter what, I asked him if he held the same view on the death penalty. He did not. But it did prompt him to ask me this: “Are you okay with me murdering you? Can I go up and take your life if you are perceived to get in the way of something I want? Would you be okay with that?” This made me laugh first, then I answered his question. “If you wanted to, go right ahead. I can’t stop you. that’s your choice. I don’t know the reasons people choose for murder, but if you wanted to murder me, that is your personal choice. I don’t have a say in that.”

This answer was not what he wanted to hear so he asked me again in a different form, along with a few other questions. At this point I was over the conversation because it was clear that he was not going to just agree to disagree. He wanted me to just share his views. I can’t do that.

 

 

I have my own opinions and beliefs, as do all other people in the world. If we can’t agree on it, why can’t we all just agree to disagree?

See everyone else’s point of view, accept it, and move on.

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An Open Letter To A Friend

Dear friend,

Let me start this by reminding you that I love you, and you know I do. I love you and your kids tremendously!

You asked me my opinion on my views…”how do you know god is imaginary?” is asking my opinion on  a sensitive subject that we disagree on. I gave you my full and honest opinion. I do that. I don’t lie. I don’t make up an answer that I think one would like. I mean, I am an honest person. That does not make me ignorant. Telling you my opinion on something you disagree on does not make me ignorant. I know I didn’t experience the things you did that led you go religion, and I am thankful that I did not have to. That was an unfortunate thing that you went through and I’m glad you are alive today. No need to curse at me about it. I’m not dismissing what you went through, I just cannot relate to it. I know you saw what you say you saw, that is wonderful. It’s just not something that I believe in.

You being quiet about your views on homosexuality and the like, which is another thing we disagree on, is your choice. I am vocal about gay rights. Or as I like to call them, human rights. Love is love. You can love who you want. That is what I believe.

“Pray for the non-believers, they need it more than anyone else does” was your status update after our discussion. I hear that a lot…that people will pray for me…that their congregations will pray for me. It is okay if you want to pray for me. Pray until your heart is full. I know that it does not affect me. I don’t believe in it. Nonbelievers do not believe in prayer. If that makes you feel better, by all means, be my guest. I can ask you not to pray for me, but I know that wish will not be respected.

I am vocal about my opinions on Twitter. I’m not censored there. There is a reason I update twitter more than Facebook. I rarely use Facebook.

Again, I love you a lot. You know this! And your opinions on me and my views do not change this at all. As long as you don’t directly ask me questions about my views, I will not talk to you about my views. I mean, that is what we were doing before right? You are one of my closest friends. Nothing will change what I think of you.

I love you.

-Brittany

A note to readers: Don’t follow me on twitter if you will be hurt/offended/disgusted with my opinions. I mean, I am myself there. I always will be.