I feel like this post is LONG overdue. But here it goes! For the longest, I would never talk about race to people, especially to other races for fear of pulling the “race card”. BUT that was totally ignorant of me and I can truly say that is the product of a racist America to keep Blacks quiet.
I have never been the person to think that my race would ever hold me back. In fact, I embodied a sense of entitlement because NO ONE would tell me what I could not do.
But recently, I’ve been experiencing uneasiness. This morning, as well as yesterday afternoon, I went to a few stores, and NO one greeted me when I walked in the door, asked me if I needed help, or wished me well as I left the building. I went into Anthropologie and the White customers that came in before me was greeted, but the same associate walked right pass me. But she saw me walk in the store. One store in particular has done this several times. There’s a little boutique on the Corner called Finch and I swear I am blatantly ignored every time I go in there. Yesterday, I decided to go into Finch to look at there jewelry. But I seriously was ignored. Clearly, no one was in the store, I was the only customer on the floor and each sales associate continued to hold a conversation amongst themselves. The first time I encountered this my first year of college, I thought I was over thinking it. BUT as a little social experiment of mine, I’ve been to Finch well over 10x in the last few years and NO ONE has ever greeted me.
Also, I went to Sweet Frog in Barracks today and the young lady that rang me up, didn’t greet me or ask me how I was doing. She asked for my money and even though she wasn’t polite, I wished her well. BUT the white customer after me, was greeted with a smile and a hello.
After walking out of Sweet Frog, I began to ask myself if I was invisible. NO, I am not questioning my worth, but I have all the confidence in the world because I was made in His image. But still, I questioned where my place was in White America. Today, I felt so uneasy and I wanted to close my eyes and disappear to a world where I was alone or with other Blacks.
I , a undergraduate student at the University of Virginia, looks just like every other student. Jeans, scarf, sweater, leather boots, and ambition in my eyes. But why do I feel so uneasy about these situations? Are this blatant acts of racism? NO. The are institutionalized forms of racism that have been embedded of the minds of not just Whites, but Hispanics, Asian, Middle Easterners, and yes, even Blacks. They are implicit forms of racism, subtle forms of racism. Subtle forms that people constantly ignore and tip toe over. Subtle forms that automatically make this businesses feel as though Blacks can’t afford the product. I HATED being ignored….
This situation took me back to high school, where a white classmate that became so comfortable with us as friends, that he started saying anything that came to his mind. I remember him saying things like Blacks steal, they are ashy, and other ignorant things. My black classmates and I never entertained his ignorance. But one thing that happened that will always hurt me. Two of my teachers heard him say these things and they NEVER said anything. They never even corrected him about his statements. But clearly, in the code of conduct, racism of any form should not be tolerated. But they both chose to let him say want he wanted to say. Their silence, let me know that they believed everything that this guy said.
Just like in the stores today and yesterday, I was ignored in this situation. I don’t think I ever came to terms with that until today.
I just wanted to tell my story of my situations and ask that we not ignore these forms of racism. But speak up and be educated about the stereotypes and subtle, institutional forms of racism. I AM NOT INVISIBLE. I will always stand out regardless of ignorance. Don’t be invisible, but be heard.