Tag Archives Stone Mountain

Not Your Grandparent’s Brand of Racism

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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What the Confederate Flag Symbolizes to Me

What the Confederate Flag means to me as a black person living in the South | Read more on The Girl Next Door is Black
The “Confederate Flag”, a rectangular variant of the Battle Flag. | Source

It’s 2014 and people are still squabbling over the meaning of the Confederate Flag.

Currently, the flag is a topic of contention in a Virginia town, where an “activist group” raised the Flag on a 90-foot tall pole on private property, visible from a freeway. According to an article from The Washington Post, one of the activists from the Virginia Flaggers, shared his perspective:

when he sees the giant flag along the interstate he feels pride and reverence

furthermore,

…he doesn’t think of the flag as a symbol of a fight to preserve the institution of slavery, in part because he believes the war was a defense against Northern aggression. The historical meaning of the flag, he said, should not be distorted by the message of the hate groups that have carried it — groups that have been repeatedly denounced by the Flaggers organization.

I’m pretty well acquainted with the Confederate Flag, a side effect of 13 years combined living in Georgia and Texas. When my family moved from New York to the South, I felt as I though I’d been involuntarily enrolled in a crash course on racism.

It was in Georgia where I realized the world as I knew it existed in terms of black vs white. Everyone seemed obsessed with everyone else’s race and your color gave people ideas about who you were before they even met you. Over the years, I’ve given some thought to the history of the flag and what it represents. When I see the Confederate Flag:

  • I remember a rainy day after school when my world changed irreversibly by these simple, yet loaded words:

    “Get away from my house, niggers!”

    A white classmate bellowed this greeting at me and my sister, an expression of glee and righteousness in his glare, a legal pad-sized Confederate flag pasted in the corner of the window from behind he which unwaveringly stared at us.

    As my mom tells the story today, the sense of helplessness in her voice betraying her desire to convey strength, my sister and I initially refused to tell her what happened, though she knew by our solemnity and silence something was off.

    She recounts, upon hearing what our peer shouted at us, resisting the impulse go tell some people what’s what and later shared her frustrations with my dad. To us, she explained that unfortunately, this was another one of those times when someone has hate in their heart for you because you are black. You didn’t do anything wrong. Don’t let it hurt you. We can pray for them.”

    Some people will hate me because I’m black.

  • It calls to mind an eye-opening conversation I had with a white co-worker, Sarah, as a teenager in Houston:

    We were sitting in her new, glossy black truck, an early graduation present from her father. She called it a “dually” – which always sounded like “dooley” to me – I gathered a “dooley” referred to an over-sized pick-up truck with a giant ass.One afternoon after work, as she sucked on a cigarette, she told me: “You know…I’m not racist. I don’t hate all black people. Like, I don’t like ‘niggers.’ You know what I mean? Like you. You’re one of the good ones. You don’t talk all ghetto and shit, you’re not lazy and you’re smart.”

    I shrank in my seat a little, stupefied by her words, unsure how to respond to the inherent supremacist subtext of her comment. In her voice I heard a sense of pride in her generosity and acceptance. She didn’t dislike all black people. Just the niggers.

    I wondered, how does she distinguish who is which if she doesn’t know the person?We headed to her house. She had offered to lend me a pair of her cowboy jeans since we were meeting up that night with other co-workers to see George Strait at The Rodeo.

    As we entered the garage, I noticed on the wall to my left, hung the largest Confederate Flag I’d ever seen. It covered almost every inch of space on the wall. The wall in front of me displayed several large shotguns. Knowing the racist apple usually doesn’t fall far from the even more racist tree, a current of fear ran through me when her dad, a tall, hardy man with a thick mustache Tom Selleck would envy, walked out to greet us, voice thick with the country, “Hey there, girls.”

    I hope he thinks I’m “one of the good ones.”
What the Confederate Flag means to me as a black person living in the South | Read more on The Girl Next Door is Black
Big ass truck | Source
  • The story of James Byrd, Jr. comes to mind.

    In 1998, I was in college in Texas when I heard the news of James Byrd, Jr., a black man, dragged to his death behind a pick-up truck, by three white men in Jasper, Texas. 1998(!) and still people were killing black people for the simple “crime” of being black.

    Two of his murderers were known white supremacists and at least one claimed membership in a Confederate organization. Sadly, his murder didn’t surprise me nor many other black Texans. As a black resident in Texas at that time, you lived knowing there are certain towns where you are unwelcome, where you may feel unsafe, where you may genuinely fear for you life.

    Three vicious men, murdered James Byrd, Jr. less than 300 miles from where I lived.

  • I recall, also while in college and stumbling on a disturbing photo at the photography shop that handled parties for many campus organizations.In the photo a group of thirty or so white students, posed in their Confederate best, costumed like extras in Gone with the Wind, Confederate Flags galore. The occasion was a white fraternity’s annual “Old South” party.

    It’s an (mostly) unspoken rule, at least it was when I was in attendance at that school, that black people don’t join white fraternities and sororities and to even attempt to do so results in an awkward situation for all parties involved. I thought of how uncomfortable I’d feel if I were to attend such a tribute to the “good old days” and how would I dress? Those times weren’t all that happy for people who looked like me.

    One chapter of this same fraternity later went on to offend Mexican students with their “Fiesta” themed party.
Kappa Alpha, Old South Party, 1985 Photo cr: ka-psi.org
From an “Old South” party thrown by Kappa Alpha fraternity, 1985
Source

[If anyone feels the instinct to play Devil’s Advocate and argue that there are black fraternities and sororities, I’d like to point out that much like Black History Month, Black Student Associations, BET and Historically Black Colleges & Universities, they exist in part, as a response to the exclusion from predominately white institutions. Thus, comparing the two would be a false equivalency.]

  • It reminds me of stories of angry white supremacist groups – not just in the past, but still in existence today – marching or rallying through neighborhoods with large black populations, their beliefs logged on posters with racist terminology, Confederate Flags proudly billowing, some terrorizing residents with racial epithets.
What the Confederate Flag means to me as a black person living in the South | Read more on The Girl Next Door is Black
KKK leader and members marching past protesters during a downtown rally in Tallahassee, Florida, 1977.
Source
  • Finally, and I mean finally as in “the last point”, as this is by no means an exhaustive list; far from it. Of course, this flag is synonymous to me with the enslavement of Africans and Blacks, people from whom I’m descended. Synonymous with the side that fought, in part, to preserve that disgusting, reprehensible institution to maintain its economic interests.

To some, the Confederate Flag is a symbol of pride. I will never be able to view that flag through a filter of pride. To me, it represents pain and hate. It embodies the most depraved soulless and cruel elements of humanity.

I will not deny anyone their freedom to display the Flag on their private property. However, I am free to want nothing to do with it. Years ago, I wrote in my journal, where I listed reasons to move from Texas to California after college, “I want to live somewhere I don’t have to see the Confederate Flag every place I go.”

Update: Shortly after I posted this entry on my Twitter timeline, I received the following tweet:

you people are constantly in a state of taking offense – to nearly everything. You should consider going home to Africa.

accompanied by this avatar:

Offensive Sign - The South Was Right with Confederate Flag

 

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