As I white woman, I know I can never fully understand the hardships and discrimination Black people face EVERY SINGLE DAY. And, it’s not just the big racist acts that you read about in the news. There are SO many smaller acts that happen DAILY. Getting stares when you walk into a fancy hotel like you don’t belong there. Wiping down your cart at the grocery store and having a customer ask sweetly, “Is that for me?” because they automatically think you work there. Getting followed at the department store because employees assume you will steal something. That’s just a small sample of things that happen ALL THE TIME to Black women.
Over the past week, I’ve been listening, learning, and finding resources to share with all of you. I listed a bunch of resources in this blog post, 10 Ways White People Can Find Racism.
I’ve also asked readers to share their experiences and stories. I feel it’s important to amplify their voices with my platform and I know all of you amazing women will support this decision.
These are their stories. I hope you will take the time to read them.
From Erica Tyson
First, I’d like to say Thank You for acknowledging America’s systemic racism and by stressing education, being listeners, and eliciting stories and experiences from your subscribers. That alone has truly touched my heart. I love your channel and find your advice very helpful. I so appreciate your candor and transparency regarding various personal issues, which is evident in your recent statements. Honestly, this is the first time anyone has ever asked about my experiences as a black person in America, so here it goes (sorry, it’s rather lengthy)…
I’m 39 years old and live in Indianapolis, but I grew up in small-town Ohio. I was always the only black student in my classes. Always. And we were the only black family in the neighborhood. I distinctly remember my parents having talks with my 2 older brothers regarding driving, working, and living in our town. Although ignorant to the term as a child, I was aware of the act of racial profiling which I also encountered by white teachers in my school. This was all in the context of growing up a pastor’s kid and learning to love everyone as children of God. I came to realize there were many who did not care to follow such a decree.
As an adult, I reflect back and see how my blackness has affected the way I navigate the world — both literally and figuratively. I am constantly aware of what I wear and simple behaviors in the context of stereotypes and safety, and where I can and cannot go. Yes, legally, I am permitted to travel the country freely. But for as much as I love to travel, there are certain places I simply cannot go. I am reminded of the Green Book (the actual book, not the film) which I learned about only a few years ago while in law school. There were clear boundaries then of where black people could eat, stay overnight, etc. as documented in the book. Now, though I have the law on my side to defend my right to move freely, I am conscious that there are places where I am simply not welcome or even in danger, certainly including Indianapolis and the state of Indiana. Even when traveling to my Ohio hometown, there are places I will not stop or am on high alert en route for fear of racial actions taken, by police or business owners. But what is perhaps most devastating is that there are no cities where I feel at home and can relieve the daily pressures I feel as a black American. Even when I am in “liberal” places of the country, it still exists; there is no escape, no relief, no respite.
Figuratively, race has also driven the way I navigate my world as a black person and a woman. I am keenly aware of how I am treated when I wear my hair natural (I have big, tightly curled fro-esque hair) versus when I have it straightened or pulled back tightly in a bun. I am cognizant of how black women have been hypersexualized throughout the years, originating from slavery when our bodies belonged to white men. As such, I am hesitant to wear certain clothes because while it may look feminine and sexy on you or other beautiful white women, it is often construed as provocative on black women and stereotyped as being promiscuous (looking at you, sexy camis and dresses). I wear jean jackets as opposed to hoodies when on road trips, and am always toning down, suppressing myself – in fashion and behavior. While shopping I make sure my hands are always seen. I suppress the daily oppression I feel at work or while I was in my law classes because such complaints are often construed as exaggerated and thereby diminished. I am completely saddened and disappointed that it has required the taking of yet another black life to get to this point as a society, but my hope is that others will be as open to such discussions as you. Again, thank you for listening and providing this platform as an ally. It’s incredibly necessary, so please keep it up, Sweet Lady!
From Tricia Hill
I am from Colorado Springs, Colorado but currently live in Beaverton, Oregon. I really enjoy your style tips even though our body types are quite different however I am petite like you (5’1).
First, I want to thank you and congratulate you for your desire to educate yourself on Black injustice. I don’t have one story but can give you several examples of what I have been through and what many of my fellow Black brothers and sisters go through on a daily basis.
- I can’t count how many times I have gone into a store and was followed because I am black and will likely steal something
- When I pass someone in the store and they suddenly clutch their purses tighter or call to their child to come closer because I was walking by them ( I am black I must want their child!)
- I have taken my niece (who is now 30) to the park when she is the only black child and suddenly everyone has to leave and sadly 24 years later when I took her daughter to the park in a totally different state the same thing happened!
(that really hurt because all they wanted to do was play!! I cried so hard because they are beautiful and sweet young women)
- When I get in the car and see a police car I don’t give any eye contact because I am afraid that small gesture will give them cause to pull me over
- My husband and I were pulled over on a highway in Texas on our honeymoon twice we were questioned gave them the proper paperwork but we were not ticketed-that is called driving while black
- My husband works the night shift and I pray that he makes it home to me, in fact, every time he leaves the house without me
- Lately, I get anxious whenever I have to leave the house because I don’t know if a white person is going to call the police on me for No reason …because they hate black people
- We get typecast as “thugs, lazy, loud, unattractive…” the list goes on and the stress we carry just because people are scared of color is astronomical!
I could go on but by now you should get the point. We need your help Erin please join us in our peaceful fight for equality the laws have to change! We need to be recognized and valued because Blacks are being annihilated. This has to stop.
- A friend of mine just recommended this book to his white friend maybe it will help it is called White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
God Bless You and your family
I’m so encouraged by the outpouring of support and engagement from you and others. Thank you for asking to hear our stories about Black American’s experiences.
I am a 44-year-old Black woman. I’m a wife, mother to 4 beautiful and talented children (3 of which are boys) and I have a grandson. There are many stories I can tell. A couple involving my children, but here is a recent one involving my brother.
My brother was arrested a couple of years ago in front of his own home. He and a neighbor were sitting in their car… pulled over in front of his driveway talking. This is in a neighborhood that gets no through traffic. A police car pulls up behind my brother’s vehicle, approaches the driver’s side, and says that they were blocking the traffic. My brother responds with something like “that’s not possible.” He asks my brother to get out of his car and asks if he has a weapon. My brother says, “yes,” and the police officer called for backup put my brother in handcuffs, and searched his car.
He then told my brother that his gun was reported stolen (even though he purchased it legally and it’s registered to him.) He then says that there is a warrant for his arrest for an unpaid parking ticket. The ticket is actually for my father who is deceased. (Sr vs Jr.) My brother is handcuffed in his own front yard for three hours. They take him to jail. On the way there the cop asks him where he works and my brother replied with his profession. And the Cops words: “Oh, well, you can afford this”.
They take him to prison where it takes all day to process and book my brother. Meanwhile, my family is hysterically calling the police, sheriff’s offices, District attorney’s offices, etc. It’s literally exasperating. When we get through the DA’s office they find no record that my brother’s gun has been reported stolen, and they also tell us that can clearly see that the two (my dad and his son are two different people, different socials, etc.) there is no warrant for my bother and that the unpaid ticket was against my father. They are confused about the reason for the arrest.
Nevertheless, my brother is booked given a court date.
My brother has to pay a bond to get out of jail and pay for my dad’s (who is deceased) unpaid parking ticket. Upon his release, cops can’t find my brother’s gun.
During all this, I call my children’s grandfather. He’s a professor of law and is connected to judges etc. and it just so happens that one of the professors is the clerk for the judge presiding over my brother’s case. We give her all of the details about this bizarre arrest. She informs the judge. My brother goes before the judge for arraignment, the judge (although he has prior knowledge of the specifics of this case) allows the case to continue.
The professor, who is also the judge’s clerk, talks with the judge afterwards. He asks him “How in good conscience can you allow this —this is wrong” eventually after a few more court dates and appearances, the case is dismissed.
Even now the police still can’t find my brother’s gun so he filed a complaint. This is especially important because if his firearm is turned out into the streets any crime committed can be pinned on him.
He is still working to this day to have those charges expunged from his record. He carries around a letter from the DA explaining that charges against him were dropped so that he won’t be prevented from getting employment. This is just one story…
Thank you for listening.
- 10 Ways White People Can Fight Racism
- “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race” by Beverly Daniel Tatum
- Great interview with James Nord of Fohr: Dr. Daves on systemic racism, moral literacy & hope for the future
- The Best And Worst Ways To Support Protests On Social Media As A Non-Black Person by Brittany Wong
For Talking To Kids
- America In Pain: What Do We Tell Our Kids
- BizChix Podcast with Natalie Ecktahl’s BizChix Podcast episode: We Need Each Other with Dr. Traci Baxley
What resources have you found that are helpful? Please share in the comments below.
Thank you for stopping by!