I wrote this little excerpt of an essay during the George Floyd riots. I am not sure where I was trying to go with it, but I wrote it down… and now I’m sharing it. Do with it what you will.
I experienced a lot of racism. I got the brunt of anger when I was a kid. I didn’t belong where I lived for the color of my skin. White boy, straight brown hair with green eyes in 1980’s East Harlem was RARE. Let’s put it this way, if you saw another white person, it was a cop or my family. I didn’t really know I was the majority. “White” people were rich and lived on the other side of 96th street. I never understood why I was being attacked, shouted at… “I’m Puerto Rican!” and the answer was always “Then speak Spanish!” And sadly I couldn’t speak it well enough.. so the harassment continued.
That was just a little part of my life. But I never fit in. Never “white” enough to feel comfortable and definitely not brown enough to be down. All that this means, is I have empathy. I know what it feels like to be “other” to not belong even when everything says you are supposed to belong. I’m here in sunny San Diego, probably the most beautiful place you can live… and I still never feel comfortable.
I imagine that is how black friends feel…. EVERYWHERE. Never comfortable. Never like they belong. Fearful. When is the next problem going to come.
All folks are asking for is a sense of BELONGING. The United States is their HOME. They want to BELONG. Have a sense of place, history, love to be included in their narrative.
The South was BUILT by slaves. The countries wealth was BUILT on slave labor. The markets in New York for trade with Europe were built on tobacco and cotton picked by SLAVES. When we ended slavery than ABUSED IMMIGRANT labor. We’ve all been abused by capital.