Not Your Grandparent’s Brand of Racism

2 min read

Stone Mountain, Georgia is where I lived when I first realized I was “black.”

By that I mean, I realized that people would see my skin color, make up all kinds of prejudgements and adjust their behavior accordingly.

It is the place where I first felt the weighty isolation of being the only black kid in a class full of white kids. It’s the place I lived when I was first teased for my hair type, my nose size, my round, protruding butt that’s now considered trendy, and of course my skin color.

It’s where my white teacher told me that in the “old days” some white people thought our skin color would rub off on them. That by touching us they’d become black. The horror! This sounds as ridiculous to me now as it did as as a 10-year old.

It’s where three Confederate leaders are carved into the granite mountain from which the city derived it’s name.

It’s the location of the former headquarters of the KKK, that bastion of white supremacy that’s terrorized black Americans for decades.

Today's racism doesn't look like it did 50 years ago. It's not always as obvious as using the "n-word". Saying you're colorblind doesn't mean you aren't racist. Being a nice person doesn't mean you can't hold racist beliefs. | Read more from "Not Your Grandparent's Brand of Racism" on The Girl Next Door is Black

Stone Mountain bas relief sculpture of Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee & Stonewall Jackson
Source

Stone Mountain, GA is also where high school principal Nancy Gordeuk singled out black audience members during a recent high school graduation. Gordeuk made the mistake of ending the ceremony before the Valedictorian’s speech. When audience members filed out thinking it was over, Gordeuk – who is white – said, “Look who’s leaving—all the black people.

After first apologizing for her “racist comment’ in an email to parents, Nancy later backtracked saying: “I didn’t know ‘black people’ was a racist term. I didn’t say the N-word or anything like that ’cause that isn’t in my vocabulary.”

She continued sticking her foot all the way in her mouth with: “People always think the worst, you know. You say the word ‘black,’ you know. Was I supposed to say African-American? Were they all born in Africa? No, they’re Americans.”

Just because “the n-word” is not in your vocabulary, doesn’t mean you’re not racist, hold racist beliefs or that you didn’t make a racist comment.

  • Just because you don’t say “nigger” or use other racial epithets doesn’t mean you aren’t racist.
  • Just because you’re a “good” person, doesn’t mean you can’t be racist.
  • Just because you have a Black friend or friends, doesn’t mean you aren’t racist.
  • Just because you “don’t see color” doesn’t mean you aren’t racist.
  • Just because you listen to rap or hip-hop, doesn’t mean you aren’t racist.
  • Just because you are nice to the Black person at work, the grocery store or in school, doesn’t mean you aren’t racist.
  • Just because you say “African-American” instead of “colored,” or “negro” doesn’t mean you aren’t racist.
  • Just because you voted for President Obama, doesn’t mean you aren’t racist.
Today's racism doesn't look like it did 50 years ago. It's not always as obvious as using the "n-word". Saying you're colorblind doesn't mean you aren't racist. Being a nice person doesn't mean you can't hold racist beliefs. | Read more from "Not Your Grandparent's Brand of Racism" on The Girl Next Door is Black

Illustration by Gabriel Ivan Orendain-Necochea |  Source

This isn’t the 1950s anymore. Today’s racism isn’t your grandparent’s brand of racism. Today’s racism is cloaked so well we can have a biracial black President, while unarmed black civilians are gunned down by law enforcement with seeming impunity.

Jim Crow Era Segregation Signs |  Today's racism doesn't look like it did 50 years ago. It's not always as obvious as using the "n-word". Saying you're colorblind doesn't mean you aren't racist. Being a nice person doesn't mean you can't hold racist beliefs. | Read more from "Not Your Grandparent's Brand of Racism" on The Girl Next Door is Black

A Florida sign from 1969 – Today’s racism isn’t always this obvious | Source

Some examples of what racism looks like today:

Unfortunately, the list goes on and on and on.

People sometimes refer to the regressive racism of their grandparents and sometimes their parents, while at the same time, dissociating themselves from such inane views. I wonder: what did their grandparents think of their grandparents beliefs?

What makes some people think they’re the magic generation that’s suddenly stopped racism in its’ tracks?

What will your grandkids say about your beliefs?

Can you think of other examples of present day racism? Have you experienced covert or subtle racism?

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12 Comments
  • Alina Conn
    June 29, 2015

    The ignorance in this world is appalling!

  • Mrs. AOK
    May 18, 2015

    I watched the video of the principal and I was astonished that those words came out of her mouth! Her statement afterwards, ugh! She thought people got upset over her use of the word black, and though that is partly the issue, I would say TONE IS EVERYTHING. Her tone in my opinion was “those people” tone. Those people and the I’m-better-than-you- attitude, that is what we have a problem with. We also have a problem with the fact that you’re supposed help educate and lend a hand in making these young adults educated, proud, future leaders.
    How can she be doing that when she is working with a “those people” mentality?

    XOXO

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      May 18, 2015

      How can she be doing that when she is working with a “those people” mentality?

      Precisely. And to think that there are parents paying for their kids to go to this school and be treated this way. Insult on top of injury.

      I hope that she learns from this – more than “I can’t say ‘black people.'”

      • Mrs. AOK
        May 21, 2015

        Exactly! Those {black} people are paying for their kids’ education and your paycheck, ma’am. I hate when people say things like. “Oh we cannot even say black now.” If you want to say black, brown, yellow or white do it. However, consider your tone and your logic…. why do you have to use color?

        XOXO

        • The Girl Next Door is Black
          May 22, 2015

          However, consider your tone and your logic…. why do you have to use color?

          Seems like such a simple concept, but clearly it’s more difficult for some to understand than others. It reminds of a situation that I experience from time to time: I’m the only black person in a group of people chatting. Someone (not black) describes a person involved in the story they’re telling. They glance at me, shift uncomfortably and say, “he was Bl-…African-American.”

          I am not going to get upset if someone calls someone as “black” instead of “African-American.”

          I think some people are so overly concerned with being politically correct, they do so at the expense of thinking about the reasons BEHIND the PC behavior, which really is just about not being an inconsiderate bigot.

  • Ray F (@BritishMumUSA)
    May 16, 2015

    Awesome post, and sick to my stomach at 10 years old you were exposed to this and I am so sorry. WOW. I too saw that video and it turned my stomach. All she should have said was “Oh, my apologies – I mistakenly dismissed everyone. Can you all take your seats to listen to the valedictorian’s speech.” Then she should have given then five mins to settle and sent several staff members outside to gather whom ever was in the parking lot.

    She jumped in her mouth with both feet, both of your lists are awesome. I have heard many times over your first list. For me all I can do is judge people one on one – on their character. Hold all to the same standards and teach my children to do them same. My hope is that with each generation tolerance rises and intolerance fades.

    I live in hope.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      May 18, 2015

      All she should have said was “Oh, my apologies – I mistakenly dismissed everyone. Can you all take your seats to listen to the valedictorian’s speech.” Then she should have given then five mins to settle and sent several staff members outside to gather whom ever was in the parking lot.

      But, this would be sensible!

      You know your racism is deeply ingrained when “the black people are leaving early” is the first thing that comes out of your mouth. I think instead of having these empty apology press conferences people do, we should have racism rehab. We can’t just be sending people back out into the wild with the same ignorance. Hmm…

      It’ll be interesting to see how/if things change once almost everyone looks brownish. Maybe then we can move on to judging each other solely by income and wealth. 😉

      • Ray F (@BritishMumUSA)
        May 20, 2015

        Oooooo, yes racism rehab, instead of sex therapy rehab… Remember when Mel Gibson went on a rant and then went to rehab…. Unreal!!!! So agree, with you on this one mate. Did you see that she was let go… (Fired)

        Oh wouldn’t that be nice if we were all the same color. Ugh you are so right, judge people would still flipping judge!!!!

        Don’t get me started on that one…. We all live in glass houses!!!!

        xoxoxo

        • The Girl Next Door is Black
          May 22, 2015

          I believe she’s not principal anymore, but still owns the school. So, she’ll still get an income from the school. At least she won’t be there to inflict more of her ignorance on the students.

  • ModernDayKay
    May 15, 2015

    I.LOVED.THIS! I enjoy reading posts like this because its so thought provoking. You hit it the nail right on the head! Hell racism is not even how it was with my mother (1950s); my grandparents were born in the 1920s! I’m starting to get less surprised when I hear the racist stories in the news because I am more surprised at people acting surprised. It’s nothing new. But just how you went into how the principal later attempted to explain herself that’s more appalling because what she said made absolutely no sense and it just sound like a fool. What I want my children and grandchildren to know is that when it comes to racism my beliefs speak volumes of how they view other people. They are a reflection of what is passed on to them. I want them to call out overt bigotry and hatred no matter whose mouth it comes out of because that’s what I do. I really enjoyed reading this. If you haven’t came across this: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/americas-racism-problem-far-complicated-think/ . It’s a study showing how the beliefs towards minorities have changed in young white americans from older generations. I also would appreciate if you look around my blog. I cover some of your same topics.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      May 18, 2015

      Thank you, Kay!

      It’s interesting hearing the different perspectives on racism among different generations of black people. Not only are experiences with racism different, the approach to dealing with it has changed.

      I have read that article! Funnily enough, I included it as a link at the bottom of this post.

      Thanks for your comment, Kay! Will visit your blog.

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