afraid of nothing

I have been repeating this Audre Lorde quote over and over since the election results. I have been forlorn, scared, inconsolable. Angry. 

Angry. 

I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.

I will not give haters the pleasure of my fear.

I thought that when I read about the possibility that poll watchers would be out on election day, trying to intimidate voters. Fuck them, I thought. I saw a photo of a guy with a gun in his holster and a Trump shirt, and a woman had called authorities because she was fearful. He may have asked her who she was voting for…I can’t remember. Fuck him, I thought. I’m not going to be intimidated by poll watchers, guns or no.

After Trump won, my mom texted me her fears about discrimination. She’s experienced plenty and is concerned it may get worse. She asked if I’d seen on the news that these white kids at an elementary school in California (I think) were chanting Build the Wall, and the Mexican kids were crying. She was angry about this. She said she’d like for those white kids to get their DNA tested to see how mixed we all are. (She and I have both done this and were floored by the results. I have more sub-Saharan African blood than I knew; she has more Native American blood than she knew.) 

Those poor kids are scared. It’s nauseating and terrifying being picked on for being who you are…something you have nothing to do with.

I was scared once.

I’ve written on this blog about my experience with racism, particularly when I was growing up in rural Ohio and attending a primarily white school. It was not as bad as it could have been, but there was enough nastiness to shape my views of rural life and my interest in getting as far from that life as I could. 

I was a fat couch potato during this time. I would ride the bus home, find something to eat (typically a box of mac and cheese) and flop on the couch to watch television. I turned often to the Geraldo Rivera show, and he often had on neo-Nazis on. They frightened me. Truly. Everyone would be screaming and yelling, racial slurs and spittle everywhere. It deeply bothered me. The idea that these white guys hated me so much. Eventually I would turn it off, roll over on the couch and bury my face in the cushion, pushing out all the hate I had just heard. Trading fear for sleep.

When you’re a young person, racial hatred is inexplicable and frightening (not to say it’s not frightening as an older person, but as one ages, one sees these actions and words differently).  My fear of it shaped much of my life as a teenager–the downcast eyes, the hunched shoulders, the desire to blend in with the walls.

My experience studying at a large college and working as a journalist in diverse communities (along with encouragement from my mom) helped me shed those feelings of inferiority and helped to reshape me into who I am today–proud of my brown skin, my mixed heritage, my thick lips and broad nose. 

So much improves with age, including developing the intellectual understanding of what racism means, how people use it, and why they use it. It’s not as scary. It’s not the boogeyman in the closet in the way it feels like when you’re brown kid. 

Looking back on the Geraldo Rivera episodes, I see them for the absurd clown shows they always were. They are laughable. 

I hope those kids suffering through the stupid comments by their classmates–comments their classmates likely don’t comprehend themselves–have the support they need to overcome the stupidity with their self-confidence in tact.

As for me, I am deliberate and afraid of nothing. 

I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.

Middle fingers up.

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