In Junior High School I had this girlfriend who helped to open my eyes to the world. I remember going over to her house and having to sneak behind her mothers back. It was not that she didn’t know I was there, but I had to pretend that my friend was dating my girlfriend and that I was dating her friend. At that age there is nothing more fucked up than watching television while having your arms around your friends’ girlfriend while he is in the room. And the reason why was because her mother did not allow her daughter “dating” anyone who was not white. This would not be the last time this would happen but it is the first that I remember.
Growing up I had friends from all different backgrounds, listening to different music and eating new foods. This experience is why, more than anything, my parents moved “away from the black people” as my grandfather used to say. It opened my eyes to new things but the melting pot that I grew in made me blind to problems that did occur. Some parents did have a problem with certain kids because of their complexion but that never stopped the kids from hanging out. We were friends and did care that someone was dark or light. I used to think my generation was the best because everywhere you looked we were all mixed and it did not matter. Or at least I thought it didn’t until I got older. I would be lying if I said that the call from the ex-girlfriend shocked me.
We had just broken up a week before when the message came. I remember listening to it in my kitchen and hearing the words. “Nigger”. Or more appropriately “Dirty Nigger”. Mostly I just heard the word. That word. It was not the first time I had heard it. But it was the first time that I had heard it from someone my age. Traveling through the south as a child I heard it from older black and white men. With my family the word gets tossed around. As a policy I try not to use it. To me the word drags up images of things that young person should not have to imagine, read about, or contemplate. Listening to the message in my kitchen from someone I once harbored feelings for was upsetting. Realizing that my mother was the one who told me that there was a message for me was difficult. Watching her face as she told me what she thought of the message, eyes glistening with angry, was hard.
For me there is no excuse for lashing out at someone’s “color” just because you are upset with them. It shows a lack of depth on your part to sink to that level. “They are stupid because they are Polish”, “They are suspicious because they look Middle Eastern”, “They are good at math because they are Chinese”, “Who allowed them in here because they are black”.
I used to like Michael Richards and not only from Kramer but from even from the
Some people have said it is not that bad. Or that he pulled a John Kerry, a joke gone wrong so to speak. Others have said, “Rappers say it all the time” and that may be but it doesn’t make them right. It is bad. It was bad when Mel did his version. I feel that everyone’s a little bit racist and working with that you can build a better understanding outside of stereotypes. However, when something is said so vehemently then you know the underlying feeling is more than just a joke. Rappers, comedians, politicians have more than a lot of ground to make up in my eyes if they ever want me to take them seriously again.