Unending List of The Black Experience -Updated 04/08/2013
Please keep in mind, these are my opinions, and sometimes I generalize.
It is those little things accumulated over time that makes one bitter, angry, and isolated, emotionally and physically.
Black and Power are antonyms.
White and Power are synonyms and equal to White Privilege.
I was conscious and hesitant to acknowledge or strike up a conversation with another black person in the presence of white people. When I was an intern at the Boston City Hospital, a resident asked me in front of my colleagues (other interns) if I knew where her money was. I was the only black person in the room. In her mind, black people were thieves—naturally, I must be a thief. Sadly, four years at Cornell University and another four at Yale Medical School did not make me any different than a common criminal because I am black and proud! Black boys and men live in fear of being falsely accused and imprisoned.
One of my most poignant experiences occurred at Cornell. I was in a non-science, small class that allowed us to sit around a table. I can’t remember what the topic of the day was, but I will never forget what that white boy sitting across from me said. He confidently proclaimed that black people were stupid and lazy.
Then there was absolute silence.
All eyes were on me!
(what to say, everyone was looking at me)…
I was the only black person in the class, so I was expected to respond and defend my race; unfortunately, I was speechless. In retrospect, no one said anything. I think people were disappointed in me. Their silence made them accomplices to this white boy’s racist statement – it signaled their agreement.
After moments of uncomfortable silence, the discussion continued. I don’t recall the professor correcting that boy or anyone being offended except me. People were merely embarrassed because I was in the room, and mad because I didn’t give them a show.
Unbeknownst to everyone, I left that classroom with stone cold eyes and a rigid body. I don’t know how I controlled my tears or how I returned to the sanctity of my room, but I do remember the tears and feeling like crap. I was angry, not at that idiot white boy, but at myself for not defending myself and my race. At that time, I was not well-versed in the ways of the dominant culture. In retrospect, it was good I did not respond.
Black leaders are pounded for speaking their truth; white leaders are praised for reinforcing and embellishing stereotypes. Remember Mitt Romney’s comments about 40% of Americans on entitlements. In reporting crimes believed to be committed by black people, the media will display a large scary image of the “guilty” person. Please note the law states you are innocent until proven guilty—not so with the media. A black person in the background of an image implies guilt and violence. The media is also very diligent in their mention of race when the accused is black, not so when the charged is white.
At Boston City Hospital, I remember one attendant doctor who disliked me intensely. No matter what I said, it was wrong. Some of my colleagues even commented on it when they thought he was contradicting himself in trying to make me wrong. One evening, after a tough day, he decided to treat everyone to a meal—except me. Do you know how it feels to see everyone being asked what they like, except you? Then to see everyone happily eating while I starved was humiliating and made me feel worthless!
Even at the School of Public Health, the experts make associations that reinforce stereotypes. Take for example one of my classes about the channels of communication and understanding your target audience, the discussion centered on black people at risk for HIV. Many in the class took it for granted that being Black was a risk factor for HIV which was exactly what the CDC approved video implied. Only a few understood the subtlety of the stereotype. The professor prevented me from expressing my point of view. To me, the assumption that all black people are at increased risk for HIV was offensive and not based in fact or evidence. And this expert in communication and digital marketing refused to clarify. The communication class because the CDC found the ad effective for black audiences knowing made a false association between race and HIV. To add further insult, the video ads portrayed Black women as promiscuous party-goers.
I listened and read a study that implied black children have more sex than white children because black children have nothing to do after school.
The other malarkey was that black women lust to be gang-raped, and so they are.
These myths were offensive, but when they are part of a public health curriculum, stereotypes become evidence-based. Without data, the dangerous and sloppy associations have life-altering implications for black people.
Are these future public health official going to help the disenfranchised? I have serious doubts.
For your information:
HIV is transmitted sexually and by blood. HIV is not transmitted racially. To associate HIV with the black race, or any other race, is to mislead and ignore the behaviors that put all races at risk. HIV is a perfect example of a disease where lifestyle changes and medicine have removed the death sentence from the diagnosis.
The belief that every white person is against you. This makes many black people defiant, angry, and suspicious with little chance of developing any trusting partnerships. Here is an example of the Black Experience resulting in the Failure to Listen, continuing the cycle of poverty and dependency.