Why we need anti-racism education.
Racism did not disappear with the election of Biden-Harris. Although hope returned, hate will continue to lurk. As some of you may know, being anti-racist is one way for our nation to heal. However, alone anti-racist teachings will not fully cure the four years of open hate that we’ve endured. Or, the centuries of discrimination.
Before the election results, I was walking my dogs in a park. As I was picking up one of their massive dumps, a pick-up truck covered in Trump 2020 flags slowed down near me. The two men in the truck honked at me. One screamed at me, “Trump” while the other screamed, “you go back to where you came from.” As they drove off, I thought, “I can’t even walk my dogs anymore.” When I came home, I cried for a moment then share the encounter on social media where I received ample support.
After sharing the incident with my family, they immediately feared for my safety. My dad called me asking if he should come stay with me for a few days. However, I told him that wasn’t necessary. My sister told me that I should have recorded the event on my phone. But, I didn’t know it was coming. Also, it happened so fast. Where was the time do that? When President Trump refused to concede a few days after the election, my mom called me terrified.
“His speech,” she said as her voiced trembled a bit, “it was horrible, he’s inciting fear and violence.” My mom told me to keep my head down, to not talk to anyone, and to not share my thoughts. All of this came from a place of love and concern.
(“If she stays quiet,” my mom thinks, “then she will be safe.”)
Yeah, it sucks being told to not be yourself so you can maybe stay safe. Although that sentiment is a great start to some science-fiction novel (hit me up Patrick Ness, I got some ideas), it does not work in real life. It’s not the first time as a minority woman I’ve been told to stay quiet. Truthfully, keeping my head down won’t prevent racist encounters. My mere existence is a threat.
After the election, I was walking my dogs when a white pickup truck stopped near me. The man honked his horn, whistled at me, then screamed, “Trump.” He drove away probably feeling proud of what he accomplished while I was left frustrated. The idea of this blog post formulated as I walked my boys. That man wasted his time and energy to harass me. For what? Did he think he did something good? I thought about what Van Jones said on after Biden-Harris won. He said that it will be nice to return to a time where people won’t have to fear a racial remark while going to Wal-mart. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for me.
Honestly, Trucker-man wanted to instill fear so he could feel better about himself. Instead, I rolled my eyes behind my Joe Biden Aviators and proceeded on with my day. His lash out came from a place of white fragility that I unfortunately the consequences of it. Trucker-man saw me as an outlet for his false sense of patriotism but that’s not what I am here to do. My existence isn’t to make white folks lives harder. Or, be used a verbal punching bag.
I’ve written many posts about being a woman of color attorney in a predominately white space. You know about the overt and covert daily microaggression I face but I haven’t shared the prejudice I see against others in my profession. While dealing with self-identified progressives (white saviors who are liberal), I’ve seen nothing but covert prejudice. Simply put, these are people who seem themselves as the exception to the racist rules. Because they read one NPR article or seen a TED Talk on prejudice, they are not racist. Cool. But, that’s not how being progressive works. The self-identified progressive puts a different rhetoric on my people of color clients. They expected more from minorities other than stereotypical behavior. Simply put, people of color need to stop being criminals. Self-identified progressive have a non-racist approach to the justice system. Instead, our nation needs an anti-racist approach to everything.
After I recall the park events to my friends, one of them suggested I file a police report. If I start building a record, then maybe something could be done. This friend offered to go “full Karen” about the incidents, which would be fucking awesome. But, I had to make decision to file the reports. When faced with any decision, I pull out the pro-con list. I couldn’t get myself to make one because I had other things going on. This brought me back to my law school days.
While in law school, I faced discrimination by a professor who refused to put me on one of the trial teams. She had no reason to deny me a spot other than my skin tone and gender. Eventually, I got on a trial team, won a competition for the school, received that professor’s praise then showed my middle finger to that program. At one point during that process, I met with the Dean of Students who told me to that I could file a complaint against the professor. The choice was mine to file it, no one would force me. After the competition, final exams started and my clinic cases became more demanding. Eventually, the complaint became a distant memory. The following year as I studied for the Bar Exam, another woman of color faced a similar type of discrimination from the same professor. As she told me what happened to her, the complaint came into mine suddenly. I told one of my white friends about this other young woman’s experiences. That friend told me that I made a mistake not filing the complaint and I should have taken her down when “I had the chance.” My body froze when she said that. And, my anxiety resurfaced. Naturally, I cried for a very long time. But, the decision to not file had everything to do with my well-being.
Defending your feelings of discrimination is hard as hell. You’re constantly being second-guessed and invalidated solely for the debate about racism existing in that moment. It’s exhausting. So when my friend suggested the police report, I envisioned a moment of me explaining why screaming Trump is a racial slur. As I pictured my self telling predominately white male officers about the incidents, my anxiety resurfaced; the one similar to when I was told that I made a mistake for not filing the complaint.
The more people scream Trump at me, the more I see our soon-to-be-former-President’s name as a racial slur. I am reminded of all those non-racist progressives pretending to care and the un-filed complaint from law school. Also, I find myself thinking about those who voted for President Trump solely for economic reasons. Another example of people seeing themselves as the exception – not the rule. I think about those educated white folks who voted for Trump. Screaming Trump reminds me that we are not solving any problems regarding the issue of racism (not the issue of race).
Being anti-racist comes from the right education. It doesn’t come from leaving your rural communities or even going to college. It certainly doesn’t come from having people of color friends. Anti-racism teachings must start at a young age in both schools and in the home. Everyone has to learn the complexities of racism. Moreover, how the issue was made complex so it couldn’t be solved. Hopefully, then people will understand why complaints don’t get filed, why the police aren’t seen as allies, and why a President’s name is a racial slur.
That way, no one is subject to racial slurs for simply walking their dogs in park on a beautiful day.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned!