To the Hiding Racists: A Reflection on Growing Up Black in SW Virginia and Recent Events
By Teiara Dandy
To those of you who just realized your country is racist: Welcome to the party.” -Jackie Summers
I’ve dealt with racism my WHOLE entire life. As a child it never really made sense. High-school, I obviously understood. Growing up in SWVA, I remember leaving places and walking out to the car to find KKK rally flyers from time to time. I always knew I’d never stay in VA, but what kept me from living in fear of the blatant racism was that we were moving in a direction that it was dying out.
I just knew it would eventually be so widely unacceptable, that people who even tried to express or teach these ideas would be crazy. So many of you skip right over this issue. You’re tired of hearing about it, well many of us don’t have that luxury because we are living it and our lives are literally depending on it. So many people are reading these articles and seeing familiar faces. People who they work with, neighbors, business owners of places they frequent, friends, family. Imagine finding out people you know or have spent your life around secretly harbor hate for you because of the color of your skin.
I recently had a conversation with a woman who had to go pick her son up from a camp because people were calling him a nigger and threatening him. He felt so unsafe surrounded by these other children he wanted to come home. CHILDREN. People are literally still teaching their children to hate. My heart breaks for the children who will struggle in school during these times. For the ones who won’t be able to find understanding why kids won’t play with them, or why they are so mean.
It’s straight up shameful that in 2017, my adult life, I will now have to fight HARDER to protect myself and others. I live in fear of interaction with the police. I live in fear of stumbling across the wrong angry white man who decides he doesn’t care anymore, and wants to take my life and will because he knows he can beat me to death in the street with no consequence. I constantly question whether those who smile at me and tell me they love and value me harbor hate for me.
I spent my entire life surrounded by a family who supports Trump (and yes, I do relate these issues to the president for making people feel comfortable enough to do it). One of them actually told me that “racism isn’t a big enough issue for me” here we are, many lives lost later. Any one of them could have been me.
I have read many posts of friends, calling out others and standing up against these issues. To all of you, I thank you, sincerely from the bottom of my heavy heart. This has been extremely hard to handle so many emotions and trying to find the right ones. To those of you staying silent, know we see you. To those of you defending it, we see you too. And to both, the silent and people defending racism, know we will never look at you the same.
To the hiding racists, I hope you continue to feel comfortable enough to show your faces. We will continue to blast your photos. We will continue to call your employers. We will continue to protest your hateful rhetoric. We will continue to fight against you. Eventually, we will create a world where you don’t exist.