I thought that it would be a good idea to maybe paint a picture for some of you who are genuinely interested, or just curious, about what minority life looks like in America, at least for me and my family. So here are just a few of the very real considerations I have to take into account daily.
– When I mentioned that wearing glasses makes me appear less threatening to some white people, this was not just conjecture. This is from personal experience. I can see people visibly relax when I enter a room and they notice that I’m wearing glasses. I’ve had white people actually say things TO MY FACE about my apparent “harmlessness” because of my glasses. If it was just once, I could pass it off as an exception. But on several occasions white people have “jokingly” said variations of, “Bro, your glasses totally kill the gangster vibe.” Yep. Gangster vibe. Really. Did they mean any offense by the statement? Not at all. But they still got the super eye roll. 🙄
– I’m acutely aware of the substantial risk I take every time I leave my house. Not sometimes, during holidays, or on the weekends. No… EVERY. TIME. There’s an ever-present anxiety because I never know if this will be the day when I’m pulled over by the police, not because I did anything wrong, but because I “fit the description”. I would venture to guess that if you polled a sampling of black people, a majority would tell you that “fit the description” is a trauma trigger. When I get in my car, before I put it in drive, I place my cell phone in a holder attached to my dashboard. Why? Because I want to be able to call my wife or start a live-stream within seconds of being pulled over by the police. It’s on my Driving While Black checklist. It may not keep me alive, but it may bring some justice.
– There’s some weird notion that being “other” is preferred to being “black”. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked “Are you Cuban/Dominican/Puerto Rican/Non-Black?” by white people. It’s as if believing I am something OTHER THAN black, will make me more… acceptable? If I’m NOT black, maybe they somehow think I’m okay to like or believe or trust or befriend? Just a guess, but when I say, “No, I’m Black/African American”, there’s a noticeable sense of disappointment.
Again, I’m not speaking for all black people. I’m just sharing my personal experience. And if you take nothing else away from this message, please understand this… no amount of data, statistics, or reports should ever invalidate someone’s personal experience. We’ve lived what we’ve lived and we often see life through the filter of those experiences. Remember that before attempting to trivialize someone’s trauma.