The subtle effects of systematic racism on one's inner monologue

January 18, 2019



It’s rare I bring topics like this to the surface in my writing in such a blatant manner, but, I felt it extremely necessary to share.  


Studies show (if you want the actual studies, let me know!) that human interaction is a necessity for survival, and on average, we can interact with up to 8,000 people a year. The story I'm about to dive into is ONE moment, with ONE person, in ONE day.  Thankfully, this exchange was positive for the both of us. But imagine it had turned out bad. Multiple this one negative interaction by 8,000 (hopefully this is easy math for you) and MAYBE we can begin to understand the effects we have on each other, daily.  Even more so, imagine if this exchange was derogatory in some way, how would that make you feel as a person?  What effects would it have on your life? Try to hold onto this idea as you read the below story.    


Recently a man came up to me and stated, "I am a white man trapped in a black man’s body."

My initial reaction was a shock, and then intense grief.

I asked, "why do you feel like this?"

He goes, "well I don't always feel white. Sometimes, I feel Asian.  But I read a lot, and I speak well, and a lot of my folk don't speak well. Especially, since I grew up in the Ghetto."

Honestly, this exclamation upset me deeply; it hurt my soul because this is a subtle example of the effects of oppression and racism. More so, it's a massive example of long term injustice. 


Looking up at this man, I say, "please don’t feel like a white man trapped in a black man’s body. Be proud of who you are and remember that your skin color doesn’t dictate who you are. It makes up the whole package that is you.  Speaking well doesn't make you white, it makes you well rounded, and being smart doesn't make you Asian, it makes you educated. The fact you can form a grammatically correct sentence with an exceptional vocabulary allows you to express how you feel and think.  That's something we ALL should strive to do."


He looked at me, smirked, shook his head, and goes, "A lot of people in my community growing up told me I talk white, but my grandma worked hard to put me through school and I went to college, and I have worked hard to get here.  But a lot of those people in my community didn't have the chance to go to school."


I replied, "I can go on and on and attempt to say things to help make you feel better, but at the end of the day, I can’t fully empathize with you because I am not a black male. I am a white female, and the world is unfortunately different for the two of us. What I can try to do though is sympathize with you.  A single mom raised me, and we lived off of welfare in the bottom half of a duplex in Findlay which as far as I remember wasn't the nicest at this time.  Harassment, put-downs, and inequality have followed me through much of my life too. Not to the extent to which you have faced, I'm sure but some nonetheless."


He nodded his head and said, "thank you for trying to sympathize with me and understanding that you can't empathize. I appreciate that and more people should try to do that."


We both said more here, but eventually, the conversation naturally drifted to unrelated topics.


The reason I write this today is that judging others for their skin color is a disease. One that I don't have confidence will never genuinely dissipate. 


But, I shall do my part and remind anyone and everyone that your skin color does not dictate the type of person you are.  Everyone needs to do a better job of uplifting the people around us because it’s not OK that as a human race we still have people who don’t feel comfortable in their skin.  


Regardless of your views, opinions or beliefs, there is one FACT that remains true. We ALL have to live, experience, and survive life together.  It would be better if everyone were kinder.  

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K. J. Rocazella

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