A couple weeks ago, the ‘net was set ablaze after video leaked of Sigma Alpha Epsilon members from the University of Oklahoma chanting a racist tune. The scandal sparked nationwide disgust and resulted in all students from the video being stripped of their SAE memberships, suspended from school, and their precious “Whites only” frat house being shut down.
Due to this group of drunken little bigots’ stupidity, the frat’s in-house cook, a Black man by the name of Howard, ended up losing his job. (But ex-SAE members started-up GoFundMe pages for him and his family almost immediately. PR stunt to help SAE save face? Hmm.) Nevertheless, Howard had reportedly been the cook at SAE’s OU branch for 15 years, and was “loved” by everyone who came across his infectious smile and tasty chili dogs.
This made me think, How many of those same frat bros chanting about hanging “niggers” from trees shared jokes with Howard, shook his hand, and ate his cooking with a smile? How many of those same racist SAE members cheered-on Black football players, patted Black teammates on their backs, or called a Black classmate their “friend”? No one can be sure of the exact numbers, but I’d bet my last dollar that these instances occurred on a regular.
Covert racism in its purest form.
Because America has now prettied-up the once blatantly ugly face of structural racism to protect their billion dollar businesses and markets, many racists-at-heart have been taught to hide their hate or else suffer public scrutiny, the threat of losing a job, status, or their position in a leading fraternity. The result? An extensive breed of undercover racists roaming the planet with masks on, pretending to be someone and something they’re not. With this in mind, am I the only who sometimes finds it hard to formulate relationships with people of European descent?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no racist, but growing up seeing, hearing, reading, watching and experiencing White supremacism has made it difficult for me to trust a smiling White face right off the bat. It would be so much easier if all racists would just wear their true colors instead of hiding behind a guise; then we’d know who was down for the progression of the human race, and who was still stuck in the ’50s. But unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way.
Of course, not every White person is racist. Many are genuinely good people, but how do you know which ones to trust?
When I transferred to a PWI my junior year in college, I went into a deep culture shock. For the first time in my life, my environment was not predominately Black. My professors were White; when I walked into a classroom, 99% of my peers were White; my counselors were White; my roommates were White; hell, even the walls in my dorm were white. I was completely uncomfortable, and I found it awkward trying to mix and mingle with people who were the exact opposite of me.
It took me a few months to adjust, but I relaxed a little and met some cool Caucasian kids. Some I felt were genuinely friendly (I even made a good White friend, even though she’s part Dominican) but with others, it felt forced. And during many classroom discussions, it was clear that a lot of these kids still had slave master mentalities; some of the same ones who hung around the class of people they seemed to think they were above. This urged me to be even more hesitant in extending a trusting hand to people who didn’t look like me, and made me curious about the mindset of Black kids who did.
I remember this one melanin-packing brotha who was always surrounded by a flock of White kids. I would look at him and think, How does he feel comfortable being the only one in his crew that has those features, that skin, that struggle…?” And I always wondered if any of his “friends” secretly hated him and his deep brown ebony skin. These thoughts may seem pessimistic, silly, or downright dumb to some of you, but I’m a realist. Racism, racially-charged hatred, and White supremacism still exists, and my hesitance to trust a White face is one of the many effects these things have had on many people who were raised in a similar background that I come from.
So let’s talk about it: how do you all feel about building relationships with White people? And how deep is your trust for the ones you already have?