How Black People Navigate America

Trained to Recognize Racists and Important Allies

I learned the word racism long before I understood it or could spell it. At a young age, I remember my grandmother telling me, “If you’re not white, then you’re black.” It took me years to understand what she meant, but when I finally understood, it woke me up.

In America, racists only see their own race, and all other races are viewed as less than, meaning all minorities, all people of color are treated the same way as black people and experience the same racial discrimination.

When you have experienced discrimination or oppression, you learn that it is easier to combat it by sticking together. This is why black people, other people of color, women, the LBGTQ community, and immigrants are becoming allies.

There are rules we teach to children of color in America; black people call it ‘the talk.’

The One Drop Rule

The one drop rule refers to anyone with the slightest percentage of black DNA. To racists, you are black. In addition, if even a hint of brown tints your skin, even if you are not African American, you are still black. On the flip side of this, it is possible for people of color who have a resemblance to white, to live their life as Caucasian.

Comply with the Police

In the black community, we explain to our children that if you are stopped by the police, you comply. You don’t make any sudden movements. You do not reach in your pockets.

But now, this rule is seen as little protection and even when a black person complies, it is no guarantee of safety. And as was seen a few days ago, some never make it home.

The Coon

The coon is slang for a black person who does not speak out against racial issues. They ignore crimes commited against the black community out of a self-serving concern with losing relationships or financial partnerships with white people who are in a powerful position. They associate with those who have exhibited racist behavior.

These could be ordinary black citizens or blacks who have reached an honorable level of success — they might even be black celebrities. They insulate themselves against racism by developing a detachment from its root and its history and resent the activities of protesters, and disregard the injustices of black people.

Racist Terminology

In America, when the topics of white supremacy, the existence of white privilege and police brutality arise, people of color are met with racism, hate-filled rebuttals, and a lack of understanding:

Go back your country.

I’ve never experienced that.

He should have just complied.

But black people kill black people.

Statistics show that more whites are killed by the police.

Online, when people post #Black Lives Matter, this is twisted and construed as meaning ‘only black people matter.’  And soon after, we see the rebuttal: ‘All Lives Matter’.

Yes, all lives matter.  But while racial inequality and injustices still exist as normalized then America has not earned the right to say that ‘all lives matter.’ Because in America it has always been that ‘Some Lives Matter.’ And they matter more than others.

Our Allies

To our allies, thank you for marching alongside black and brown people. To the whites who speak out despite the disapproval and criticism from your family and friends, that means the world to us. To the people who have showed us love in other countries, thank you for letting us know our voices are heard, and that people of color deserve to matter too. To our governors, troops, policemen, and leaders, we ask you to open your eyes; to join us and help end racial injustices.

Delusional and corrupt minds believe that black people, people of color in America are after superiority, but in all actuality we have always been fighting, dying for the chance to live in peace. History can attest to that.

Maude Washington is Blue Nib Contributing Editor. Her poetry has appeared in The Blue Nib, WusGood and The Faithful Creative.

About the contributor

'I learned the word racism long before I understood it or could spell it.' Maude Washington explains what it means to be a black American and the significance of 'the talk.'

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  1. Straight up. This needs to be part of the standard curriculum in schools until it isn’t necessary any more. It does get tiring repeating the obvious to the unbelieving but right now, it seems like more people than ever are finally listening, so we keep saying it until we don’t have to I guess. Well, and succinctly said, thank you.

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