Racism: An American Opinion

Racism: An American Opinion

I want to begin this by plainly stating that this is my perspective and will hit on some controversial topics. This will be written as the thoughts come and I hope to provide some sense of insight on modern American racism. 

That said, at SoulSpeak, we do not post our opinions blindly. We back them with peer review and most importantly real talk with real souls. In this piece, we interviewed 5 people with their own opinions and views. Please note, these responses are raw and unfiltered. Reader’s digression is advised if foul language or offensive subject matter offends you.

We’ll start with this. Racism is as old as time. 

An Imperialistic Attitude Turned Evil

See, in my opinion, it goes from my country is better than yours, to my people are better than yours, and boils all the way down to you are different from me so I don’t like you or I am better than you. 

As a white male, I have felt the pressures of change because I grew up around a Southern family with very antiquated ideologies.

It starts from childhood. Institutionalized racism begins at the education level. If you have two kids who are 5 years old, both going to public school and one goes to a title-one school, they’re immediately at a disadvantage. Title-one schools have notably worse hires, supplies, and, most of unfortunate of all, grades. The government has to essentially bind and trick people into working in these facilities.

Coming to school as a college freshman, I was offered a grant that would give me money towards tuition and textbooks. It runs deeper than this though. The grant states that you must graduate with your bachelor’s degree in four years and must teach at a title-one school for at least five years after graduation. If you fail to complete these requirements, you have to pay back every dollar of the grant. The grant becomes a loan, and you have to pay interest on that loan – bound and tricked. If you can’t see where this horrible cycle is beginning, you need to further educate yourself.

Take a drive through your city. Take mental notes of the demographics and infrastructure of these areas. People are born into disposition and are expected to flourish because of the “American Dream,” and when they don’t, they’re labeled a failure.

About Our Interviews and Initial Findings

We conducted five interviews for this piece and would like to shortly outline the dialogue.

The most frequent responses to desired actions taken by the white community is that the white community “has to recognize their own privilege” before progress can start.

Another common response was that it’s the responsibility of the people to vote and change the cycle of old racist white politicians.

We have to talk about the hard-hitting topics, or we won’t move forward. The government quit listening, so the voice of the people became an outcry of the people. We are seeing that outcry now across the nation – and the world.

The riots come from a place of passion and care for the people who are like you. We have to love and respect the souls and minds of individuals in order to understand and truly coexist.

Below is the attached interview file. The answers speak for themselves and are unaltered. These are interviewees over the age of 18 and are raw, unfiltered opinions from various members of the black community. 

Interviews

Question 1: When did racism become real for you?

Race: Biracial
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Answer: 2nd grade teacher with black friend who cracked down hard on students of different races for seemingly no reason. Harder on grades and visible mood changes. 

Race: Black
Age: 20
Gender: Female
Answer: There’s been a couple of moments like that especially where I grew up. Racism became real for me when I was in the 4th grade. It was around 2010 and my family and I would be shopping in Walmart and the “secret shopper” security followed us around like we were planning on stealing things. I was too young to really understand what was happening, but I was scared like I was in trouble. 

Race: Black
Age: 60
Gender: Male
Answer: About 2nd grade a situation in which a homecoming parade was going on schools were still segregated. Each grade had a float and students behind their floats. We were marching in a loop back to the high school before the football game. We had to march through downtown and to get back to the school we passed through a white community. We passed the white school and there was a cement wall. These guys were standing on the wall shouting the “n” word and other obscenities. It was the first time I had ever heard a white person using that word. I didn’t fully understand what it meant but I was scared. 

Race: Black
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Answer: That would be when I was a kid I was in elementary school and it used to be playing around with certain white kids and they acted differently towards me. I always wondered when my dad would get mad at what white people were doing. It was racist that’s why. A fight broke out and I was a model student and the teacher went back over it and talked about the situation like I was always in trouble. She said I was “trouble from the start.” The superintendent (SI) handled the situation and I was always treated differently. The SI recognized that this was racism and dealt with it. Even if you do things the right way, I would act more suburbian. I would deny black culture to be accepted by all the white kids I grew up with. I didn’t have a black teacher until my second semester in college. My church’s black history program the preacher didn’t even preach because he already preached that black people came from Kings and Queens. Everything you see, touch or taste is invented or effected through black minds. 

Race: Black
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Answer: Racism became real to me when I was around 8 years old, when me and a friend were removed from a Walmart and detained by police and accused of stealing jewelry (that was still in the case because we “fit a description given by store management”). After that my father had the talk with me about being black in America and what I need to do to make sure I make it home every night. 

Question 2: Do you feel you have to work harder for what you want because of your race?

Race: Biracial
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Answer: In the education field nowadays no it doesn’t matter what color you are it will be hard to come across someone skewing grades because of your skin. Jobs most definitely living in Cullman there are a lot of jobs I applied to that told me no. Truck Supply told me “Hell no” and I spoke with a team leader. That manager got fired and I was eventually hired on. 

Race: Black
Age: 20
Gender: Female
Answer: Most definitely, even if you have been to college with multiple degrees and certifications the color of your skin dictates if you get a job. Multiple jobs have refused to call me back but the white people are getting the jobs. These people are colorists. If I am a lighter toned black girl and a darker skinned girl comes in I could get the job. 

Race: Black
Age: 60
Gender: Male
Answer: Yea I think I felt so in the sense that I had to take a lot more than someone who was white. I couldn’t be as vocal or express my true thoughts. People don’t look at it I believe but it takes work to hide your feelings. Even teaching now being accepted by students and peers. I’m trying to straddle a fence and not fall on one side or the other. Every first day of class students look at me differently. Students always question whether or not I belong there. They will ask if I have a degree or where I graduated from. The places I have taught, it [racism] has been everywhere. 

Race: Black
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Answer: When I look around me white privilege is a thing. I have to act differently. I can’t even walk out of the house. I had to be a different person and put on a face. Everything you do is watched. If I mess up it’ll always be remembered. Every step I have to work harder. I have to act differently just to get a job. I have two steps for every one step of a white person. Don’t forget where you are right now. I have to accept it for what it is and take actions based on that. 

Race: Black
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Answer: Do I have to work harder because of my race? Definitely, but not just me  Being born black in America already has you two steps behind in pretty much everything. 

Question 3: How do the events of George Floyd’s death change your views on society?

Race: Biracial
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Answer: Fuck no, once you see it and you know it’s real your views on racism don’t change. Trust can build up, but it would never be full because these events make it impossible. 

Race: Black
Age: 20
Gender: Female
Answer: His death only made me view society even worse. They’re portraying us as thuggish and untamed. 

Race: Black
Age: 60
Gender: Male
Answer: My views haven’t changed. I am kind of surprised people are just now getting upset. It is no surprise this happened. This was just the one that was caught on tape. It’s been almost business as usual.  

Race: Black
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Answer: If anything, actually, looking back, no the people who are acting now are mostly the younger generation. These kids didn’t have a voice or opinion. The deaths don’t surprise me. I’m numb. I have been numb since Philando Castille. It’s the simple fact of him getting pulled over and cooperating and still got shot. How’re you telling me someone who is trained to be calm gets jumpy and I’m supposed to be calm. It makes no sense to fear for your life with a gun on your belt. I don’t deserve to get shot for reaching for my wallet. It’s just time. I knew it was all going to happen, but I didn’t know when. It’s the people who push the pens that make things different. 

Race: Black
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Answer: It doesn’t really change much. I knew this was how society really views us. “Amerikkka” has been doing stuff like that for centuries. It’s nothing new and that’s the sad part. The one thing it did change was my view of cops. I used to think not all cops were bad but if you have 10 bad cops but 100 good cops that don’t say anything you have 110 bad cops. ACAB. 

Question 4: If there was one thing you could say to the white community as a whole, what would it be?

Race: Biracial 
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Answer: The thing for now would be to smoke a blunt and tell me that weed doesn’t affect you the same way it affects me. ****the black experience … We are all humans and we all have blood and we all bleed. We may not be related by blood but if we’re all human I would say we are all thicker than water.

Race: Black
Age: 20
Gender: Female
Answer: Why will you all not use your privilege to help us out. It’s consistent that y’all show up to our protests. All lives matter versus black lives matter, it’s not about them. Our lives are the ones in danger right now. 

Race: Black
Age: 60
Gender: Male
Answer: If I could ask one thing I would ask “Why?” Why do you treat people of color the way you do? What do black people or Native Americans do to deserve this second-class status? I would tell them this is our country as well. Many groups built this country and we are here too. People ask why I don’t go somewhere else and if I could I would. No matter where else I go in this world, I am seen by a label that white people have attached to me that starts with the letter “N.” 

Race: Black
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Answer: You are the majority you need to hear the voices of the minority and speak for them. It’s up to the majority or the people in charge. Why do those white people that are there right now march up to capitol hill about guns and Covid not out there now. Some view this as an opportunity. The people getting arrested are from out of state and these people are looting just to do it. They aren’t even really protesting. Cops can’t lie because of the cameras. If the media pushes a story it’s misconstrued. You can cut and edit clips and false headlines for clicks. Nothing will be the same, not to quote Drake. 

Race: Black
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Answer: I don’t have anything to say. My people have been saying it for lifetimes. Use your privilege and help make a change. All lives can’t matter until Black Lives Matter. 

Question 5: Does media portrayal of the black community have a negative influence on society’s perspective of the black community?

Race: Biracial
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Answer: They see more of the bad because it’s more popular, but if you went on a random black person’s twitter you would laugh, and you would enjoy it. If you don’t see it regularly you will put a negative connotation. 

Race: Black
Age: 20
Gender: Female
Answer: Yes, not all black people are like that. Let’s say Friday, not all black people deal or are thugs or are gang affiliated. Not all black people are into violence or crime. White girls wearing Bye Felicia shirts from the movie Friday. Black people are portrayed as drug addicts. It’s like more black people get busted for crack, cocaine, or heroin than white people do. In all honesty, the incarceration, I know people in jail for marijuana half their lives and a white guy with cocaine is put away for a few days if that. 

Race: Black
Age: 60
Gender: Male
Answer: Oh, very definitely the image that is portrayed in the movies is what sells. It’s an image people are comfortable with. Today I heard someone commenting on an African American student’s intelligence in a credit to his race. What the fuck is that? When there is an exception for this, they want to make him a poster child. Most African Americans have to live with this notion you’re not quite good enough. You have to deal with that on a daily basis and it’s tiring and will make you mad as hell. When you step into an environment that’s supposed to be a place of comfort and you get stares of confusion and anger it’s hard to be productive.

Race: Black
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Answer: Yes, ignorant white people or even Hispanics or Asians they take everything they see from one situation and apply it to you. Like Patrick from SpongeBob, “he’s just standing there menacingly.” I have had Starbucks once since 2016. These two black dudes were sitting in the store waiting to start a meeting and the manager called the authorities to kick them out. It was on the grounds of them not ordering anything or something like that. Say this didn’t pop off like it did, soccer players and international people are pushing for justice. If it wasn’t like that, they would try to change the narrative and bring up the past to dehumanize the black man in question. They just try to dehumanize in order to justify what happened. It often comes down to why they’re doing it. What benefit do you get? 

Race: Black
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Answer: It shouldn’t matter what the media portrays we shouldn’t be killed regardless. But it definitely does play a part. Media constantly portrays us as vicious thugs and gang members, but it fails to point out the corrupt systems in place to incite crime in our community. It doesn’t help when someone sees you, they automatically fear for the worst. 

Question 6: Take this time to talk about whatever you need to say. Feel free to rant under the safety of anonymity. 

Race: Biracial
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Answer: I think racism is a lot different than it used to be. Even though I didn’t experience it, I CAN TELL IT’S LESS AGGRESSIVE BUT MORE FEARFUL. People are scared to be near black people. It’s not that surprising because of the up rise in rap. Rappers talk about shooting people, doing drugs, and not doing anything. It’ll never be my favorite unless it’s got substance and meaning. People are just dumb. … I would hate to be a hypocrite but when I see a meme or something and think that’s crazy, I don’t remember asking it hits home. 

Race: Black
Age: 20
Gender: Female
Answer: Where should I start? All I want to get off my chest is my opinion. You don’t have to like or agree with it. Threatening, harassing, and fighting and I don’t even know what to say. All those people who pulled that shit senior year should not have gone how it went. First of all, Kaepernick tried to peacefully protest but y’all had a problem with that. The rioting happens and y’all have a problem with that. None of this is new. Unless you change what is causing the riots or uproars or it will repeat itself. They’re not rioting for no reason. We are tired of this shit. We tried everything but they don’t give a fuck. They try to silence us or appease us. Every time we try to be heard they make it about themselves. We aren’t making it out as nobody else matters, we are wanting attention because our lives are being threatened. I would say all lives don’t matter until black lives matter. That’s bullshit. Black lives will never matter. We are seen as the black sheep. Some of these riots are based on fear and peaceful protests get twisted into something else. Within your group you feel more protected. 

Race: Black
Age: 60
Gender: Male
Answer: I think what’s going on is bullshit. I say it as I said earlier it’s always been happening. I’m curious as to why many white people who appear to be angry are angry. I go back to Trayvon Martin and white support wasn’t there like it is now. I don’t expect anything to change. Nothing long lasting will occur because people have short memory. People don’t care as long as it’s not your child. They don’t feel a need to get justice for someone else’s child. I want for white people to stop trying to frame the narrative of everyone’s problems. They try to define what the problem is without asking what it really is. I do have some hope. I suppose that more white people are looking at what’s going on and asking what they can do. In my heart I want it to happen but, in my mind, I just don’t know if it will happen. The system protects its own. There is this fear that white people have that if they’re not in power the things they’ve done to people will be done to them. That’s why they drive people down these elevated hills. It’s a con game that’s just “how it is.” 

Race: Black
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Answer: At some point during this I have to recognize the world isn’t what it was yesterday. With such a drastic change it’s easier to see. All the Covid stuff and the riots it’s crazy. We shouldn’t have to talk about this in 2020. We are talking about a country that is considering a form of communism. If I get pulled over, I am scared to reach for my wallet, and I am scared for my life. I shouldn’t have to be afraid. Like I was saying in elementary school most white people are taught to speak their mind. In black households we are taught to not speak your mind or react. We aren’t taught to read the room or please others. Another thing is that people keep quoting Martin Luther King when he even said riots are the “voices of the unheard.” If you keep pushing me and I vocally express to stop pushing me don’t be mad when you wake up in the emergency room. It’s insanity. If I say the same thing over and over and you aren’t listening, you either conform or deject. This “perfect America” doesn’t exist. You can’t piss on me and tell me it’s rain. In the anthem even it talks about slaves’ blood washing out their “foul footsteps pollution.”

Race: Black
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Answer: White people wake up and accept what’s going on and accept what’s going on and use their privilege to help us have a voice and make some change. It makes no sense to see a problem, realize it’s a problem and then do nothing about it. ACAB and Black Lives Matter

Optional – On Recognition of White Privilege

Race: Black
Age: 60
Gender: Male
Answer: I was talking to a group on Facebook and a former colleague wanted my opinion. He asked what I thought white people could do. Before you realize your privilege there’s not a damn thing you can do. You can walk outside and not have people look at you and judge you a certain way because of your skin. I try to tell my kids what life is and how the world works. My daughters this weekend went to Memphis and they started their stuff yesterday. She said, “I see now you weren’t being prejudiced at all.” The systems are controlled by white people whose punishments are not the same as they are for you. They all (daughters) in their own ways have had to defend themselves against or within the system. I’m glad they’re starting to learn that the world is a rough place for people of color and while all your friends are white, they’re not representative of the world. I think it will benefit them well and the lessons they learned. 

Race: Black
Age: 20
Gender: Female
Answer: Everybody listens to every genre of music. Why am I or even my family being labeled when Timothy over here pulls up, he’s just expressing himself? Why can’t I express myself? 

Final Thoughts

Welcome to the other side of this interview. At SoulSpeak, we learned a lot during this process. Healing cannot begin until privilege is understood. Fear is unacceptable in 2020 – people deserve better. It’s time we change that in America to be the shining beacon of hope to the rest of the civilized work. 

Did you learn anything? Did you pick up on the themes of fear, confusion, pain, anger, etc… What did you learn? Leave us your comments below or start a conversation with us on your favorite social channel with #SoulSpeakTV 

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