This morning my daughter woke me up, with the same smile that she always has in the morning, with her little sister in tow. “Can we have some Cereal?” I thought about the merits of telling them have at it and dealing with aftermath later. Sadly, there were none. So, I broke out of my sleep and made my way to the kitchen. I made two bowls of the cereal my wife told me not to give them, but she was at her Fitness Boot camp and will never know (unless she reads this blog). My oldest daughter, Amara Blurted out a question is wasn’t ready for. “What’s a nigger?” I stuttered through answers that were age appropriate and excuses. Then I finally landed on “it’s a bad word. Don’t say it again.” It wasn’t the time to explain the history of the word, but it made my mind wander to when I had my perception of the world shattered. As a child, I was always acutely aware of forms of hate, but always from a distance, never up close.
In the summer of 2005, I landed my first job as a crew member in one of the famous Wendy’s restaurant Chains. As a young adult, the naivete’ was pure. I thought that the 6.15 an hour was going to take me places. I wanted a car, a apartment and nice girlfriend. I thought I was going to be well off. Let’s say that my imagination often took over my logic.
My job was to close up at night. Which was fine because I didn’t live too far. However, one night after I said my goodbyes to my manager and turned down every offer for a ride home, I began to walk down Romig Road, past the Rolling Acres mall. The streets were quiet, and I felt at ease knowing my house was only a few blocks away. Then I heard the hard shifting of rocks, as a van crept up behind me. Then I felt there presence more than I heard it. I felt the sting of white hot pain as a full beer can threw with a good amount of effort because it landed flush against my head and knocked me off my feet. My world spun and I heard the words “fucking nigger” as the van sped off.
Although, cars rushed by and a few faces stared at me, no one stopped to ask if I was alright. Even as I looked for some kind of compassion or help none came. The fear of them returning made me run as fast as I could home. The embarrassment made me hide my wounds and lie to my parents about its origin. Growing up in a neighborhood where everyone looks pretty much the same, I didn’t understand what I did to cause it. I kept that thought with me. From that night forward, I stood and waited for hours for a bus, in order to ensure that I never walked home from that place again.
Those thoughts makes me hold my girls close to me at all times. The fear and need to protect them is much stronger in me because I’ve learned what evils lurk in the shadows. I know that there are people, whom hate them for their skin tone, their hair, or the way they resemble their African ancestors in all. For that I am afraid. As I see that same “love everyone” nature in them I once had, I fear the day that it is shattered by a single act or word that makes them question their own existence. And I want to tell warn them not to go here or not to walk there because not everyone loves us, and some people are sick. The sick ones will hurt you if they have a chance. Maybe not with objects or fists, but their words can impact you the same. But I know at the age of 6 and 7, they can’t understand that they will have to love themselves and each other, even if it seems no one else does. I want to tell them to love themselves enough to never become some pervert’s eye candy, treat their bodies well and there is a special etiquette when we deal with authority, and I know you didn’t do anything wrong, but don’t be angry. Just survive.
My mind sends those messages to them but my lips stops them from forming words Because they need to innocent a bit longer…
As social media grows along with the amount of experiences I’ve had, so does my awareness of the hate. The hatred for who not only I am but for each one of us, for some reason or another.Its not limited to color or any other label, but I can only give my experiences. However, I wont give them specific titles because I believe words hold power, and that is not my goal in writing this. My goal is to start a conversation or to continue one because it needs to be talked about.