I feel so…I’m not going to use the word “triggered.” I’m not a fucking snowflake and I don’t need a safe space.
What I need is to be the person I used to be. I want the world to be the way it used to be, when race didn’t matter. In my sheltered little life, at least, it didn’t seem to matter.
Looking back, there were hints. My fifth-grade teacher told us once that her husband, while in a city far from where I lived, was confronted by a black guy who gestured to the crime around them and said, “This is all your fault.” I always remembered that, because my teacher concluded the story by saying, “And he was right.”
I swear, once upon a time, it didn’t matter. In fifth grade, Kristen moved to my town and became the first black student ever in my class. (She was mixed, actually, but looked fully black.) No one said ANYTHING. No one needed to. She jokingly called us crackers, we in the same spirit called her brownie, and we would laugh when we ran out of foods to name each other. If she was uncomfortable being the only black kid in the class, she never showed a sign of it. Because it didn’t matter. Looking back, it was all so ridiculously peaceful, it seems like a dream.
It changed, I think, when President Obama was elected. I started hearing horribly racist things being said about him, things I’d before only heard in movies. I liked him and had voted for him, had watched my Democrat parents cry when he was elected, because my mom used to go to mostly-black clubs with her black best friend as a hippie teenager, and my dad never picked up his own father’s slight, product-of-his-time racism. I was outraged to hear Michelle Obama compared to an ape, I still think that’s horrible. I rolled my eyes over the Trump-demands-birth-certificate thing. I still think that was stupid.
By day, by profession, I am a transcriber. Not medical, though my degree is in that, I was trained to do that, but general transcription, meaning show transcripts, journalists interviewing celebrities, speeches, conferences, business meetings, et cetera. I was already having a bad morning when I started my current file, and almost at once, the client used “white” as an insult when describing someone. For some reason, I stopped and Googled “white pride.” I didn’t find anything even vaguely positive till the fourth page. It was all Google being its smug self, “Didn’t you mean white supremacy, white nationalism, you horrible person, you?”
I keep thinking back to Kristen, to Marshall who I would laugh with on the bus and who thought I was a lunatic, to Derek who taught me how to play basketball, to Ebony who spent our high school years constantly shaking her head and telling me I’m so weird. Were they mad at me, at us, too?
Morning started out bad because I saw a YouTube video commenting on a video of black students at a mostly-white college crashing a mostly-white class, screaming and swearing about how just being at the school was like “having to suck white d*ck every day,” and other intelligent turns of phrase. I’m sorry? Did someone force you to go to that school? Are you at all grateful you’re getting an education at a good (18% acceptance rate, how this idiot got in, I have no idea) university in a country that favors your race for college acceptance, gives you scholarships other races can’t get, then hands you Affirmative Action when you graduate and look for a job? No. I think you probably aren’t.
I couldn’t finish the video because the user commenting on it warned that the protesters got what they wanted in the end. Of course. Because white people are evil. Because slavery. Because colonialism. Never mind that there are still slaves in Africa, and over half a million white people in this country died in order to end slavery here. Never mind the Barbary slave trade in which blacks and Arabs enslaved white Europeans, which lasted longer and was bigger than the Atlantic slave trade. Never mind that NO PEOPLE are now where they started out, that we ALL are descended from ancestors who fought, who conquered, who colonized. Never mind that here, minorities are handed every mic and elected to Congress with no qualifications, while in South Africa whites are being brutally murdered and the government sings about it. NEVER MIND THAT.
I know I’m not alone in these feelings. But I feel like the world’s gone mad. In a madhouse, you don’t want to be the sane one. Fate protects fools. The rest of us are trapped outside, in the merciless sun and the winter cold.