The Forgotten Black Experience, not Trending…What is it?

BE:  behind cages
BE: behind cages

Have you ever been part of a conversation, physically, but not socially? Everyone makes eye contact with each other except you. They are all planning some other event and you are not invited! Without knowing it, you are invisible and irrelevant! The Black Experience is the risk of being ignored in a way that is deeply personal, emotionally and physically damaging. Tim Wise can tell you more than I about, The Forgotten Black Experience and its people.

These nuanced encounters happen every day to black children and adults all over.

Still, I think it is all in my head.

But the same pattern,

Repeated over and over again

Not only to me, but to million others,

Tells me it is not in my head!

Yes, I know this happens to other cultural groups, even those privileged. But there are significant historical and physical differences. Today racism smolders, erupting at a moments notice under seemingly benign circumstances.

The new type of racism is nuanced, non-verbal and lethal. Some systems, particularly those in medicine and public health, have institutionalized racism; it is part of their social fabric.   It is so ubiquitous, they don’t see it.  Embedded in their hierarchy and bureaucratic systems is the survival of White Privilege.

White Privilege, to be blinded, to deny, to be bystanders who benefit in the face of gross overt societal inequities.

Openly manifested in the language and climate are their discomforts with black people and other targeted ethnic minorities.

All systems with gaps and disparities have elements of racism accompanied by discrimination and stereotypes, which result in limited access to blacks and other minorities. Access is a huge problem for many disadvantaged groups. Quality care is another. All of these are part of the black experience, interestingly, this happens before people of color utter a word.

The Unending Black Experience #13

My recent hospital admissions were prime examples of discrimination on many levels without any recourse, unless I died. Forget complaining to the hospital or some local government agencies paid to protect you. I wasted several days and calls over months only find out staff changes left my complaint out in the cold and lost in the shuffle.

Finally, I realized they were not there to help only to get a pay check, a total waste of taxpayers dollars. I received conflicting information and no follow-up — I got tired of calling them back! Yes, I digress because I was tortured and bullied for over 17 hours in a hospital emergency department before urgent surgery.

How can I not be bitter? To not have my pain controlled and to wake up surrounded by vomit and blood filled buckets still untouched (or not cleared) after 2-4 hours of sleep… would this happen to a hospital board member or a friend of that mean, bully nurse in the ER? I think not! There would be media interest and outrage?

Now, I have anxiety at thoughts of entering another ER or hospital…and I should…

Did anyone care? NO! Does anyone care now? Sadly, probably not!

Will the ER crew that night change their ways? NO, they got away with it! Who knows maybe that nurse got promoted! OKay, I am being too cynical, am I? Can you blame me? You really don’t know the story so you can’t make that determination.

That hospital’s administration, my insurance company and the government agencies (who claim to protect our rights) were not interested a story, a classic example of systemic racism / discrimination that lead to increase morbidity and mortality –(disparities)–among millions of black people and other ethnic minorities.   I guess discrimination was not and is  not trending!

I wonder…

That is part of the Black Experience, never quite knowing, but suspecting based on repeated patterns of exclusion and lack of appreciation for your contributions. People claim we whine, do we?

(BTW, I do not think my insurance company should have paid for the ER part of my visit but they didn’t care.)

With little oversight of these nuanced and overt instances of racism that occur daily in Healthcare, these problems, which are causing significant harm, remain growing elephants ignored. The perpetrators instead of being shown more culturally responsive ways to handle other cultures are quietly given the nod of approval by hospital administrators, who are making millions off a system that is drowning this country in debt. Where is the government when we really need them? Busy with politics along party lines, while Main Street suffers!

Another way these systems make the playing field uneven! They keep the status quo of the dominant privileged classes by improving their health, education and access to exclusive opportunities. That is justice in America!


Make no mistake

You or your ideas are not of interest

Or importance to them

Unless it comes from their own!

Such was my experience at a recent meeting. In the past, this would ruin the night but not this time. The people who refused to look me in the eyes were also the leaders and deceitfully the most passionate advocates for disenfranchised people/communities.

Then there was the “Aha” moment! I realized, “This was The Problem!” These people wear facades of advocacy. Intentionally or not, they perpetuate a system whose woven threads of discrimination, fear, and greed are part of the social make-up of the dominant privileged class.

Where is my evidence? Look around you, there is no need for evidence based studies to confirm a fact!

Finally, part of the Black Experience rest on the shoulders of black people. It is what you choose to do with that experience that will make the biggest difference in your life and others.

back exp 2

I tire of always seeing the world through the lens of a culture that is not my own. Why can’t more people see it from my cultures’ point of view?   Why aren’t we given multiple chances like everyone else?

One reason: the Success of media in reinforcing stereotypes and its Failure to Listen to the undertones of other cultures!


Want to hear more stories?  Check these out!

Unending Black Experience: White Privilege Stories

What the Hell is the “Black Experience(BE)?”

Unending List of The Black Experience -Updated 04/08/2013

Author: Angela Grant

I am a first generation Jamaican immigrant whose experiences and accomplishments were made possible by the courage, sacrifices and the heroic acts of many whose bodies have rotted away in unmarked graves. Those are my heroes. Their sacrifices and death paved the way for my children and I. Failure to Listen is a token of my eternal gratitude. Failure to Listen is a tribute those generations of unmarked graves occupied by people of all races whose ultimate sacrifice of life opened the door for me and others, THANK YOU. Failure to Listen uses cultural lenses to appreciate and understand the relationships between current events and our values, beliefs and attitudes. Culture is everything without it we are nothing. Failure to Listen will take you on a journey to recognize the beauty of our differences as the seeds to creativity, innovation and resolving disparities. By sharing my personal and professional experiences, I hope to do justice to the perspectives of those who are rarely heard or listened to. This site is not to incite anger but rather to provoke thought. It is my hope that Failure to Listen will work to foster intergroup dialogues and motivate readers to step outside the box and get to know ALL PEOPLE. In the spirit of Martin Luther King, let's join hands and remember his famous speech about a dream... A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. -Margaret Mead

17 thoughts on “The Forgotten Black Experience, not Trending…What is it?”

  1. “Where is my evidence? Look around you, there is no need for evidence based studies to confirm a fact!”

    yeah. about that. generally one finds that argument as a placeholder for “i am aware of a lack of evidence supporting my remarkable claims, but it is very important for me that you accept those claims”. it’s a *very* old kind of bluff, and very common. but it’s not to be respected on that account.

    where’s the racism in BE#13? what’s uniquely black about that experience at all? you think white patients at VA hospitals couldn’t relate, really?

    if you haven’t got evidence, don’t be so damn sure you’ve got the truth. and if the truth isn’t what you’re interested in, because you have a monopoly on The Truth, the only kind of change you’re going to make in the world is for the worse. take you about five minutes on the internet to find all manner of fanaticism flying the “no need for evidence” flag, if you’ve got the ambition.


    1. Hi misanthropope,

      Those are good, valid points. I appreciate the honesty of your comments. I wish more people would ask those questions to get a dialogue started (not necessarily change mind).

      I agree white patients are subjected to the similar displays of discrimination and poor quality health care at VA. This is unacceptable, we owe Veterans.
      However, my point was not to downplay other groups but to remind people of the persistent existence of institutionalized, organizational and interpersonal discrimination and racism -both overt and nuanced.

      For me, the black experience is a mixture of daily encounters laced with discrimination, negative stereotypes, and exclusionary behaviors towards blacks, and other unprivileged and oppressed groups. In addition, the underpinnings of slavery add a layer of psychological trauma unique to black people.

      These experiences start at birth changing the brain circuitry to adapt to stressful and tense environments. For those living in disadvantaged communities, the Black Experience is an even greater double whammy of Toxic Stress.

      A race of people sharing common experiences with common themes, repeated over generations is a fact, whether science understands it or not. These are the very painful experiences for many black folks. Hypocrisy is also fact and it does not require a degree to discern.

      And as I mentioned in the post, without the context one cannot make a determination, but I can.

      I enjoyed responding to your comments.


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