How would you describe yourself?
Anonymous: Muslim.

How would you define racism?
Anonymous: Allowing fear and ignorance to define how you judge people, based on their skin color, before you even get to know anything about that particular person.

hijab-muslim-street-590491.jpgPhoto by Janko Ferlic from Pexels

Name: Anonymous
Race: Black or, if they make me do it, African-American.
Place of Residence: Annapolis, Maryland
Any other places you consider home: Charlottesville, Virginia

Does everyone in your immediate family feel the same way about race? 
Anonymous: No, you can see generational gaps the most, and then you can see other gaps based on where they lived. But there is a general consensus of most of them regarding white people and money and politics.

How often do you engage in conversations about race with friends, family, or peers?
Anonymous: Unfortunately, I think it comes up way too often in nonsensical terms of Us vs. Them– and consistently comparing ourselves or spewing hatred for white people hating on us. It’s just too much sometimes, even when you know what’s based on. I’m also very very tired of being around all white people and all Christians in the sense of I’m tired of feeling like a minority. I’d like to experience what it feels like to be the majority.

“I’m also very very tired of being around all white people and all Christians in the sense of I’m tired of feeling like a minority. I’d like to experience what it feels like to be the majority.”

In your educational experiences, did you learn anything about race?  
Anonymous: I learned that most black kids didn’t even know what a real education was simply because they weren’t given the right resources. I thought I was smart until I went to an all white school and realized how far behind I was, all because my zip code changed. IF I hadn’t moved, I wouldn’t have figured that out until it was time to go to college, at which point I wouldn’t have gotten in at all or probably failed out the first year because it would’ve been too hard.

Growing up, to what extent did your family educate you about your race and/or other races?
Anonymous: Initially it was more about listening to the way they talked about “white people,” but as soon as I was a teenager, they talked to me straight and basically said I’d have to work harder than everyone else to get half as much as they got, and there was nothing I could do about it. They also talked a lot about how they believed I was pretty no matter what anyone else thought -– they said that in an effort to get ahead of any negative comments coming my way.

Does race matter?
Anonymous: Race matters because we make it matter. Even if you want to live a life where race doesn’t matter, if you are brown-skinned, I think it’s dangerous to not at least acknowledge that other people think that it matters very much, and they will make decisions that affect you based solely on the color of your skin. So if you don’t want to be blindsided, it’s best to be aware – doesn’t mean you have to adopt those same beliefs, but understand when race is a part of that current equation.

“Race matters because we make it matter.” 

That said, I strongly believe that the current generation and future generations are getting rid of race politically and socially, and as more and more people mix interracially, the standard “races” simply won’t exist – I’m talking about in 50 years or so.

When (if ever) did you first realize that your race mattered? 
Anonymous: Very early. Maybe 10 or 12. Definitely when I moved to the suburbs with a population of 10% black from the city where it was 100%. Prior to that I lived on the south side of Chicago, and I saw almost no white people, so it was a non-issue.

What frustrates you the most about racism and/or racists?
Anonymous: What frustrates me the most is just this slew of assumptions that are being made about me based on the color of my skin that may or may not be true, but I don’t even get the option of defending myself because they’ve already made the conclusion about me. I would like to be seen for me, not because I’m black or female or Muslim. Just me as an individual.

Have you considered how (if at all) you will discuss issues of race once you have children?
Anonymous: Similar to my parents– my hope is to build up their self-esteem so that they believe with all their heart that they matter and that they are beautiful and smart, to the point that when someone else says otherwise, it will seem like an absolute joke not to be taken seriously. And I will have to talk to them seriously about cops and how to act in public that won’t get them in trouble or worse.  But I hope to not share such personal hate as my parents did, and I think that will be easier for me because I didn’t have the same experiences as a child that they had.

Is there anything you’re curious about regarding someone else’s race? For example, if you had the opportunity to ask someone of another race one thing—without the fear that it would be misinterpreted or considered offensive—what would it be?  
Anonymous: I’d like to ask a white woman does she feel protected and like no matter what she’ll be taken care of? Because that’s the thought we black women have about them. Like they can aspire to be whatever they want, but if they choose not to or they choose to be brave, either way it’s okay because the white man has got their back, and since white men rule, then they’re good. I mean, I don’t feel that way like all the time, but it’s an underlying thought, you know?

“I’d like to ask a white woman does she feel protected and like no matter what she’ll be taken care of?”

I’m just curious as to if they actually feel that way. My thought is that they don’t.  They feel just as vulnerable as we do.

Thanks for sharing, Anonymous in Maryland. I appreciate you!

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