Anyone who knows me, knows that I do my best to stay away from playing the “race card.” It’s not because I have tried to convince myself that racism or blatant discrimination doesn’t exist, because I’m not blind and definitely not dumb. I also have never pretended to be one of those individuals who boasts that “I don’t see color” because that’s just as dumb and overwhelmingly more offense. I probably refrain from playing the race card because, due to an underlying current of cynicism running through my blood line, I just assume that there are still plenty of areas in life that discretely call fro certain races and ethnic groups to rise to the top and prosper. I also realize that this type of mindset is not something that just has it’s branches in a the “Caucasian” culture, but definitely has a systemic grounding in every culture, every society and, whether we like to admit it or not, every person.
San Antonio is a major city in America that has a very rich and large Latino population. Recently a very talented, professional, aspiring African American female participated in a well known pageant in the San Antonio Area. This particular young lady is the president of two organizations, a very established and respected member or a service organization and also has helped man freshman and second year students transition into college as a staff member for Housing and Residence Life. So when you have someone with this type of background, who has the grades to match and clearly articulated career goals, you would think that she had the ability to not just compete in a pageant against others in her peer group, but have a very strong chance of winning. In a perfect world, where all things were equal, and pursuing that “dream” where being judged on the content of your character and not the color of your skin was a reality versus a a simple reflection and highly quotable phrase from a speech, this young lady might have never experienced the sting of discrimination. Even before the pageant, this young lady told herself that if she was going to win, she had to be perfect; any misstep, snafu, natural sneeze in the middle of answering a question would be just enough for any judge to deduct major points and cost her victory. Can you imagine the pressure? Have you ever been in a place where you believed, justified of not, that you had to be so on point so that “they” (whoever they happens to be in a given situation) would have to either strongly consider you despite what you looked like? That “they” couldn’t deny victory without exposing a greater political or social agenda? Well this happened to this young lady, and just knowing her and how she operates, if she felt like the reason she didn’t win is because she was Black…I believe her. She dominated the competition. She didn’t have a misstep. No Snafu…no wardrobe malfunction, no slang or conversation devoid of “proper” English and clear articulation. She suffered what so many have suffered in life…and that’s falling victim to the systemic pressures of upholding the racial divide that has been a smoke screen used in America for years to keep people from identifying the things that should bind us together and provide a foundation for those who are less fortunate to work together to gain some equality for all.
It’s truly sad, when you have never personally felt the sting, and then you finally do and realize that the world in which you live still functions on foolish, unspoken forms of discrimination. Every culture does it; every culture feels it; and when you find yourself on the outside looking in, wondering if the reason you couldn’t advance or the reason why your weren’t awarded, or the reason why you couldn’t freely date or walk into certain parts of a town without getting a weird and uncomfortable vibe…you just felt it too. On the bright side, I am confident that this young lady’s life has been forever changed by this incident; and because she is a person of character and integrity, she will work that much harder to make sure that she does everything in her power to make sure that people don’t feel that way after interacting with her. That’s a much bigger win than any trophy or money could provide.
I don’t really have a question or a call to respond. I just needed to rant and get that off my chest. Happy March, have a wonderful weekend and we’ll see you on Monday!