Why Ferguson Is Helping Me Leave The Country

Another straw on the back of the camel.  Another not guilty verdict that was predictable.  No, I couldn’t tell you not one detail in this case, why?  Because the day this kid was shot, I was in South America and I basically said there would be no guilty verdict in this case.  Why bother watching it, why bother learning the details when you know the outcome before the charges are even brought?

Somehow or another the shooting of a young black man for any reason seems to still manage to become justifiable, debatable and in order to get justice as in the case of Jordan Davis, there had to be a second trial.  The fella that killed him,, shot into a parked car filled with teenagers because their music was too loud and the jury hung on a murder charge?  Well, he was standing his ground therefore a decision was difficult to come to.  Had that been a black man shooting into a car full of white teenagers, he would have been labeled a thug and a savage and sent to the death chamber.  I wasn’t surprised by that verdict either.  What I was surprised by was that the 2nd trial actually resulted in a conviction.

Last night in a moment of sadness, I posted (and then removed because I wasn’t ready to moderate the debate that was about to take place there), that I was saddened that yet another life was taken and that I feel that racism is alive & well inside of our justice system.  A friend who happens to be vanilla came on saying this had nothing to do with race.  I shared in that post that I was afraid since I happen to have a son who is in the “endangered species” age range and yes, that is what I think of young black men between the ages of 17 to 32 (ummm hmmm, I’m racial profiling).  This friend shared that he felt I’d reared my son to never be in a position like this.  This statement was laughed at in a wry sort of way when read on this side of the computer.  My son, who graduated high school with honors, who is in his 3rd year of college, who works a 35 hour work week, who was reared by me has had plenty of brushes if you will with law enforcement.  He delivers pizza and when his shift is over, the sign comes off the top of the car, he’s just a black guy driving a convertible home at  3 in the morning with the top down…..lets stop him…..multiple times.  We won’t ever tell him exactly why we’re stopping him, just vague reports of suspicious activity in the area.  So driving down the street at 3am is now suspicious?  Lets just say, I never turn my cell phone off.  While I would love to live in the space my friend lives in, I cannot afford the mindset that he has.

I as a woman have been spit on, chased out of areas violently while being called a nigger, when I had my luxury vehicle, I was stopped more times in that car than I’ve ever been in any other car in all my years, I have been followed through stores, asked if I could allow security to look through my bags (allowing and then getting no apologies for this behavior), in the last city here in Florida that I lived in, I actually had to file a complaint against an officer for frequently harassing me, interestingly enough, what caused them to really do something about this fella was that my son at the time was all of 8 and when I let the officer know that my son now recognized him, he pressed his face against the back window and yelled, “Good!  He needs to remember this face” then they said his “bravado behavior” was unaccpetable.  I had a merchant ask me to see the balance in my checkbook when I wanted to write a check once, I’ve been hired to fill a quota, fired because of my color, compared to a duck and a dog by a white woman for dating white men, told to my face by what I thought at the time was a friend that if his daughter ever dated a black boy, he would kick HIS ass, told countless times how articulate I am and how pretty I am for a black girl.  Honey, I would love to say this was ALL that has happened to me but I could fill this post with shit if I had to dump my memory banks of the racism I have dealt with.  Yeah, racism is dead but not if you’re black.  Sorry, wish I could say I felt differently but I don’t.

The country knows racism is not dead and not only do they know it, they weren’t surprised by the verdict either.  Before it was read, The National Guard was already in position.  They knew there was gong to be some shit because they knew the verdict was going to be not guilty.  I have no idea why people are rioting because by now we should be accustomed to these verdicts.  When I was a teenager being chased out of Bridgeport, a Chicago community one of the protectors of the country (yes, that’s sarcasm folks) yelled at me to go back to where I came from so I headed over to North Avenue & Pulaski (its where I came from).  However, now I’m not looking for “where I came from”,  I’m looking for a place where I can shop, I can drive, I can walk, I can live & I can breath and not be concerned that my skin color puts that “freedom” promised by The Land of The Free….but not really, in jeopardy.  Way back when I was congratulated on a pregnancy that was revealed to be a male, I started eyeballing the borders of this country.  I looked at Calgary in Canada very seriously, I figured if the slaves ran to Canada then perhaps their ancestors might want to head that way too to avoid oppression.

I know for many of you that have known me for a while, these words may be shocking because I do my best to try to look at the entire reason behind some of the behavior I see.  Sometimes people just don’t like me, I get it but I have been wandering around chocolate in America for 45 years, after a while you learn to distinguish especially when the vast majority of your friends are vanilla and the men you give your heart to are vanilla as well (yes, my children are black…my family was surprised).  You learn when you are not liked and you try to give people the benefit of the doubt.  A few years ago that was the case in a group of diverse friends, one of the women singled me out.  I just figured she just didn’t like me….then her mother called me a savage in an email.  OK, great, thanks for showing your hand.  I am not saying other countries are without their issues but when I went to Europe, nobody gave a shit that I was in the store or on the arm of a white man.  When I went to Chile, I was singled out from time to time because there aren’t a lot of chocolate people down there BUT they thought I was beautiful, I was treated like a freaking celebrity.  I will say that’s not what I’m after either (although that was quite refreshing) I just want to be able to live without fear that standing out will be what causes my death or the death of my children.  So, while I titled this in a way that says Ferguson has something to do with my decision to try to get the hell out of the States, really I was working on that before this happened because I knew it was going to happen because it has BEEN happening and its going to KEEP happening.  I just don’t want it happening to me.

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9 thoughts on “Why Ferguson Is Helping Me Leave The Country

  1. Even though I am vanilla, many members of my family are not. I also know that that was going to be the decision last night. I absolutely hate that this country still believes in the social construct of race. I detest that people attach a value to skin color. I feel like Dr. Martin Luther King Junior died in vain. My heart is broken over the loss of so many young black and brown men; lives lost at the hands of police.

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    • I woke up this morning thinking of how hopeless and helpless many of us feel. We can’t escape our skin, we can’t not be who we are so as long as we stand out (which i why they chose dark skin to be slaves, harder to run away and not be noticed) it seems we will be targeted. I’m sorry that this land was founded on oppressing others and it seems old habits are hard to break.

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  2. Sadly, I have to agree that racism is alive and well. I wanted to share a different perspective if you will allow me to. Even though I am vanilla, I have also been on the receiving end of racism. Growing up in Oklahoma and with Cherokee Indian blood, my family was treated as outcasts. I saw more prejudice against Native Americans in that area than African Americans. I have been stopped multiple times by police because I was not driving the newest of cars…two times happened very recently. You can see the change in the policeman’s attitude when he got to my car and I wasn’t what he expected (profiling because of my car). I have a dear friend who is an immigrant from El Salvador. Her husband is chocolate. When she and I and her children are out together, you can see people staring and trying to figure it all out. And if her husband, she and I are out together, it is almost hysterical to see people staring, glaring and other rude things. One time her husband hugged me in greeting and I thought a riot was going to break out. If a vanilla man had hugged me it wouldn’t have even been an issue. I was recently on the arm of a chocolate man and went to the zoo. I was treated reprehensibly by many chocolate women who didn’t even know me. It was so bad at one point, that my date felt the need to shield me from it and apologize. He knew it was because he was chocolate and I was vanilla as did I. I find it sad and reprehensible that we can’t just get past it. It’s really hard for me to understand as I pick my friends based on their heart not the color of their skin, but I think people are just afraid of what’s different. It’s almost a junior high mentality that just lingers on. I’m really sorry, Kelly, that you have had to endure this treatment. I think you are a terrific person and I love your style and personality. I wish we lived closer, because I think you and I could have some great fun together.

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    • Deborah, thank you for sharing your point of view. I know that racism exists in every direction and its wrong no matter what. I am not saying please feel bad for me because I am chocolate because I am a very capable person. I am simply tired. I don’t know how people have the energy for all this hatred towards something that doesn’t fit in their box. It just requires so much energy sometimes to deal with the crap that life generally throws at you. I too am sorry that you have had to deal with ignorance. I don’t know why ignorance still surprises me in this day and age and its not just felt by blacks. I have lots of Native American friends, lots of Latin friends, lot of gay & lesbian friends, the list goes on and on. If someone doesn’t like me because I may have said or done something to hurt their feelings, ok, don’t like me but when someone doesn’t like me simply because I showed up with a white man or in your case a black man or because I showed up female or chocolate, it really is their shortcoming but we still have to deal with the fallout. The fallout is draining. I get tired of trying to make sure that because the supposed incognito security person in a store is following me around that my hands are visible at all times and I actually get a little paranoid if I go to dig for my phone in my purse. This happens a few times during the week (the being followed in store thing), its tiring to see during a routine traffic stop that the officer has his hand on his gun as soon as he catches a glimpse (once the officer wouldn’t even get out of the car until he called backup during the day) I know its protocol at night but during the day? I am just tired and that’s really just the bottom line. It is exhausting to always be on guard for fear of being thought a thief or worse. I just want to live and its not any one races fault because there is racism amongst gay v straight, black v black (yes, the color line is not a myth) black v latin etc. I just want to stop the merry go round and get off. So I found that traveling elsewhere the merry go round is a little different and I’m ready for that version instead of this one. It’s old, it’s boring & I’ve grown tired of it.

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  3. I lived in Eau Gallie, Florida, now a part of Melbourne, until I was 17′ graduating from Eau Gallie High School in 1974. It was the ebbing of segregation, yet many of my African-American friends were treated unjustly every day, on the way to school, coming home from school, while at the local convenience store, just about every second of their existence in the racially prejudiced world of Central Florida. Most were from impoverished families, high school being the highest education they would achieve as parents couldn’t afford college; the military was their best chance at a career that didn’t involve custodial work and many of them did enlist. When I left the football field on graduation day, where we had all assembled, I looked into the stoic faces of my friends, knowing this was the end of the innocence for most, embraced them, and wished them well. Soon after, I moved to Southern California and have never returned to Florida since 1979. All my story proves is that as humans, we may have more advanced technology than ever before, but we have not advanced where it counts most…treating anyone, regardless of colour, race or creed, fairly, justly, with unconditional love and compassion. I have also witnessed such racial profiling and maltreatment of my Cuban, Latino, Mexican, Sudanese, and other non-white friends. They just don’t protest…it’s not in their DNA. It’s 2014, and the wake-up call remains unanswered.

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    • Good words Dan, I really do wish this country could get past the race issues. I wish we could get past all the issues that fall under the category of bigotry. I am such a live & let live kind of person that I am so busy doing my stuff that I don’t really have time to try to hinder your or tell you how you should be living your life. Mine is big enough, time consuming enough that if what you are doing is not harming others & making you happy then if you like it I love it. I have just come to the conclusion that the dream is alive and well….in other countries and I just want to get that continuous benefit that I have never been afforded here.

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  4. Great read Kellie. Intolerance and lack of compassion for people that are considered “other” in this country is at an all time high. People have a hard time seeing others as human beings. I totally feel where you are coming from. I admire your courage for sharing your experiences, thoughts and feelings all while running the risk of being accused of playing the race and victim card. Wherever life’s journey takes you, I will continue to keep you and your beautiful family in my prayers. Peace, Love & Blessings!

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    • Thank you Natasha, I think I would be remiss if I didn’t offer a real perspective & sugar coated my point of view. You are right, I have been accused here recently of playing the race card but I am simply offering a perspective and certainly never the victim but I am tired. So instead of continue to live in a space that continuously shows me I’m not what it wants, I am looking to be in a more positive space. Thanks for reading and understanding.

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