True Colors

Being a teenager is all about showing your true colors. No matter where you are, who you're with and what's going on around you, you owe it to yourself to have the real you on display at all times. The people you surround yourself with are the ones who get to know you best. Time to put the best you out for everyone to see, show your true colors.

It kind of goes without saying that racism, racial profiling, belittling, demeaning and making other people suffer is wrong. Accuse anyone of being racist, and they instantly deny it, get offended, and try to give proof why they're not. First and foremost, if everyone was aware that racism still exists it would save a lot of trouble. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but racism is alive, well, and raging on like never before. Secondly, racism is all about power and privilege. White people hold the power and privilege over minorities - that's what thinking your race is above the others means. They have the power to make the rules of how society works, and because of that - no person of color, by definition, can be racist. Racism is a white power, so to all the people that like to claim reverse racism - there's no such thing. Now, there's a difference between being a racist and accusing someone of a racist action, or statement. People need to know that they mean two completely different things. Either way it's a hard thing to be called - but sometimes you've got to say it. You've got to be able to separate the action that made you feel small, unsafe, and unwanted from the person that said it. When you can't separate the two, that's when someone is truly racist. I like to believe that there really aren't that many people who are wholeheartedly racist. But there's no excuse for it. Making anyone feel bad, whether knowingly or not by any sort of racial charged siege is not okay. Racism is one of the most hateful and powerful forces known to man. It can drive people to violence, insanity, and even the tragedy that is suicide. If you're not aware that something you've said or done could be considered racist you probably need to consider what was the real reason you said something, where does it come from and why? If it's because that's what you've always known, how you've always done things, or because there's never been any consequences - you might need a reality check. You can offended if someone calls you racist, but the better question is why don't you care why they called you that? Start showing your true colors, it's the only option.

Let me tell you about things that I have to deal with as an African-American teenager, if you don't have to think of these things it's mostly because you have that white privilege. Staring, I talk about this one a lot because it's the one that gets to me most. The fact that people will watch you, like a human security camera at all times for no good reason. How often do you walk in a store and get stared at by not only the customers but the workers there? Usually only if you're looking ratchet, a mess, or a hoodlum - so most likely not very often. It's a proven fact (haven't you seen that episode of That's So Raven) that if a person of color will walk into a clothing store the workers, who are supposed to do their rounds and check on every customer, will swarm to them like moths to a flame. It's ridiculous, when I go shopping I know exactly what I want, I don't need help - and asking me on five separate occasions within a half hour period is not okay. When you catch people watching you when they should be working because they think you'll steal something, that's something I deal with. At the checkout counter at a supermarket, the person behind you commenting on how much stuff you purchased and asking if you can afford it all - doubt that happens to you. It's happened to me on multiple occasions, and I don't need to say anything just swipe my credit card and smile. The stereotype is that people of color are "supposed" to be on foodstamps, and welfare checks and live in the projects - sorry I don't live up to your wannabe fabled story. Being pulled over by a police officer for no reason whatsoever other than truthfully, you're a person of color. True stories, no speeding, no erratic driving behavior, nothing warranting a stop other than to harass you. The list of things is endless, but I'll mention a few more. On campus, the fact that certain people act like you don't exist. People who purposefully do not hold the door for you when they see you coming, people who don't respond when you talk to them, and people who would rather not shake your hand or wipe it on their clothes as soon as you've broke contact. That's the truth. Some people act like you're the scum of the Earth, diseased or some sort of societal pariah. If none of those things have ever happened to you, it's because of white privilege. The last one I'll share, having people say that they can't see you when it's nighttime. It's actually a problem, I shouldn't have to be but if I'm walking at night I'll definitely make some noise and pretend to be texting to let people know I'm there and not a murderer. Sorry you didn't know I was there, but I'm just walking back to my res hall and not trying to kidnap you. Showing your true colors is the only way to get people to change.

Let me pause right here and take the time to say that the only way to combat this whole racism thing is on a united front. That means people of color need to lead by example, showing that you're a respectable person and breaking all negative stereotypes and white people to stand up when something goes down or is said and be proactive when it comes to talking about race relations. When people see colors mixing it makes everything more beautiful and they'll reevaluate themselves as well. Living your life and not caring what other people think, that's showing your true colors. Nothing and no one can stand in your way if you're willing to take the time to make a difference.
 It's time for more personal incidents from yours truly. When I first moved to my house in the suburbs of Ohio, we were one of the first families in our neighborhood (we were, and have always been the only black people in any neighborhood we've lived in). People used to drive by our house, stop and marvel - which is fine, but when people would speed off if we came outside to play or get the mail - it's kind of bad. We're close with our neighbors, but the rest of the neighborhood - not so much, but I'm sure everyone knows who we are and where we live. Not because we have the biggest house in the neighborhood, the biggest lawns, or even because we have three different Mercedes-Benz but because of the color of skin - plain and simple. I remember when I was about eight years old, home alone with my brother (9) and my sister (4) at the time, and all of a sudden there were police officers at our house. They circled our whole house, shining flashlights in every windows before coming the front door and walking into our house. The three of us were terrified, we turned off all the lights and were scared senseless - we would never dial 911. We called our dad, and he had to drive 45 minutes, while he was on call during his residency to become a doctor to come and deal with them. He let them have it, covered in blood and still in his scrubs about how they couldn't just walk into someone's house. At school this past year, people would be completely shocked when I showed them a picture of where I lived or a map of my house. Someone even accused of exaggerating or lying - nope, our 6 bedroom house is all our own, we don't share or rent from anyone. That was hard enough for some people to believe, and when they found out that my dad was a doctor it was like mindblowing to them. Apparently, African-American physicians are like a myth or something, It's dad for me, and doctor to you. People were under the impression that I was an only child, nope I'm fourth our five kids. We're all full blood related and outstanding citizens. Why would as me if we're all blood related, no baby-mama drama or child support lawsuits? I think one of my favorite stories to tell is my brother was driving my mom's car, a MB GL450 (fully loaded) to the grocery store and this old white man, out of nowhere asks him if he stole the car. When he said no, the man asked him who's car this was. My brother replied our dad paid for it, and the man asked, "what does your dad do, is he a drug dealer or rapper?" Really, who gave you the right to question him, and why is it that black people can only afford a car like this by selling drugs or spitting rhymes. Show your true colors, give people something to look, talk, text, blog, tweet, and call about. You're a force to be reckoned with and a valuable, no matter who you are.

Being a teenager is about letting people in a best kept secret, just who you really are. Not only do people deserve to know but you're obligated to give them a sneak peek of just exactly what they've been missing by not taking the time to get to know you. Give them your true colors and let them deal with the amazement.

My blog post question of the day is ... what's something people wouldn't know about you at first look? People most likely don't know I'm a writer, do I look like a blogger too?


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