My Race Card Came From That Shithole Country
I heard the other day that the race card “is a crock of shit.” I read the words three times over before deciding to reply: you see, one of the things I’ve been trying to do during the first couple of days into the New Year is to not be too reactionary. I’m running for office after all, and being the “Angry Black Man” makes folks very uncomfortable. Those same folks tell you they are approaching race from a neutral perspective, not really realizing that the mere presentation of a lack of pigmentation means that their neutrality is steeped in their privilege and the fact that they don’t ever have to live in my world. It is a world that saw my brother falsely accused and assaulted by six NYPD Officers, a world that saw family members treated like criminals despite no evidence of a crime, and a world that saw my college professor tell me that if I pulled my pants up (I didn’t have a belt that day) I could be a legitimate writer. I was 18 years old at the time, and remember being floored at how easy it was for this professor to drop those words and walk away in the face of “neutrality.” It is that same neutrality that sees folks turn and half-heartedly denounce a racist and a bigot like Roy Moore but ignore that the person they voted for hits all the same boxes on a checklist. The irony is not lost on me, even if it is lost on the folks that utter those words.
As a candidate for office, I have had people come up to me and congratulate me on a job well done after a candidate forum. It is the strangest thing: I graduated Magna Cum Laude in undergrad, and finished with a 4.0 GPA for grad school. Yet, in my own community I’m treated like it’s a privilege for me to be there, and you know what? It is, though not in the way you expect. I earned this privilege in spite of the color of my skin. It is why it is insulting to hear your surprise when you find out how legit I am. They usually heap the same kind of praise, and the praise is engulfed in dog whistles: I am praised for being eloquent and passionate, for being clean-shaven, and it is those moments that stick with me long after the natural high I experience after speaking on stage. I smile and nod and make a pretty direct comment that lets them know I heard them loud and clear. I then review those moments in my mind later and am proud of the way I handle them. The only way we’ll ever improve is if we call each other out on the nonsense, and actively try to listen to each other. However, what I won’t do is listen to your *President, the one you voted for despite calling yourself my “friend”, say that I do not deserve the same kind of chance that you and your family got because of the color of your skin. Your time is up.
My mom was born in the Dominican Republic, a country that Jeff Sessions said doesn’t contribute to the United States. I have friends who are from Haiti and Africa and who have gone to these countries to do the work of rebuilding them after natural disaster or disease has unfortunately struck. My mom developed a friendship with my best friend’s Haitian mom, a nurse who saves lives on a daily basis. She kept me in line during junior high school, when all it would’ve taken was one step out of line to end up the wrong kind of statistic. You know the one, where there are more white people addicted to opioids today than any other race. I could’ve been one of your community members. Maybe then your President would respect me. If he did not, maybe you would. We are “friends”, after all.
You voted for him knowing who he was and what he stood for. You thought to yourself “this is funny” or “he’s just talking” and did not stop and consider what lesson you were teaching your future children. We are supposed to leave the world in a better place than was left to us, and the way we do that is by teaching our children to love this world enough to make it better. In your greed and subtle racist beliefs, in your fear that your way of life was being pushed out, you latched on to a parasite that only cares for himself. The vocalized justification was that your 401K would increase under him. That good old economic anxiety, huh? He was going to save coal, give us the biggest military, and drain that dirty swamp so everyone could be better for it. What you were really saying was that you did not care what black and brown people suffered because your bottom line would increase. As long as your bottom line increased, you could sleep at night. Even if you or your family can’t be racist, since you have black friends and whatnot. Every time your President says something that’s even dumber than the next, I find myself thinking “if they’re all about white supremacy, how’d you end up backing this moron”? After over a year, I think it finally hit me: had you been born in this “shit hole”, maybe you’d know what shit smells like.