As real as it gets, enjoy:
Cracker, nigger, spic, wet-back, slant-eye, porch-monkey, honky, etc., you get the picture. I think it’s time that we all, no matter what ethnicity we are, laugh racism directly in its face. I am as white as a white person can be.
My Scottish-Irish skin doesn’t tan, I have tons of freckles, a red goatee, I can’t run fast, I dance poorly and I grew up in a good neighborhood. But does that mean I don’t understand racism? No, it doesn’t.
Background: My mother was raised in south Georgia, my father was raised in Florida. I grew up in Bradenton, Florida which is on the west coast between Tampa and Sarasota. Florida is a diverse state, so as a child I was exposed to many different types of people. I was fortunate to grow up around whites, blacks, Hispanics, Greeks, Italians and other groups of people.
By the way, I am not going to refer to black people as African-American. I think that’s ridiculous. I have no problem with people taking pride in their heritage, but I’m not going to run around calling myself a Euro-American because I’m not from Europe, my ancestors were. I think you get my point.
My mother grew up racist and terrified of black people. I refer to her as a “silent-racist” because she will never be racist to anyone’s face, but she will lock the doors in her car the second she sees a black person walking near her. While my dad didn’t grow up racist, he’s full on now because he watches Fox News to often.
Becoming an Honorary “Brother”: I went to the largest high school in my city, with a graduating class of about 600 people. I made the varsity basketball team as a freshman, which was somewhat of a big deal, especially for a short, skinny white kid. As most of you know, basketball is a black dominated sport. There is no debating that statement. So here I was, a little white boy, playing basketball with a bunch of tall, black guys. (You can probably imagine how fun the locker room shower scenario was for me)
Because I was good, the black guys immediately respected me, but they were on my team. During our games against other teams it was a totally different story. Before the games started I was often taunted by the black guys on the other team. I heard every white racial epithet there was, even people in the stands would point at me and laugh. But, once they realized I could play, it was a different story.
No black guy wants a little white boy stealing the ball from them and making them look bad on the court. When that happens, you lose “street cred”. I had become an “honorary brother” after proving myself on the basketball court. My point is that, yes, while I experienced racism, I didn’t let it define my life. It just made me want to be better.
My Biggest Mistake: I made a huge mistake one night in a game against our cross town rival. I was battling all night with their point guard. He was scratching me so much my arms were bleeding, he was hitting me in the groin, he was doing everything he could to agitate me. I lost it and during a play, I pushed him down and called him a “nigger”. He didn’t say a word to me, he just looked at me and smiled.
Then the day after the game I found out that he was in a gang and he wanted to shoot me. Fortunately for me, a guy on my team was his cousin and he stopped him from doing anything to me and I am still alive today. Luckily for me, I was considered “down”, which means I was in with the black guys, and they had my back. That worked out well for me throughout high school, no one every bothered me because of who my friends were. I was lucky and learned a huge lesson.
One of the Best Movies Ever: Do the Right Thing by Spike Lee is one of my favorite all time movies and it fully explores racism on every level. If you haven’t seen it, watch it immediately. You can learn a lot from this film.
Solution: I understand that my experiences of racism on the basketball court as a kid are very different from racism in other aspects of society. But, the principles are the same. If you are discriminated against, you should do everything you can to better yourself.
You should become more educated, you should become more intelligent, you should do everything you can to make your race insignificant. I’m not suggesting that you forget your heritage. I’m suggesting that you should make your race the last thing someone needs to know about you. No one can ever take away your intelligence and no one can ever take away your education. But people can always highlight your ignorance.