Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Land of the Free

Emancipated - Free Your Mind by @artbywak
“The reason black people are so far behind now is not because of now,” Clyde Ross told me. “It’s because of then.”

A 1943 brochure specified that such potential undesirables might include madams, bootleggers, gangsters—and “a colored man of means who was giving his children a college education and thought they were entitled to live among whites.” - A Case for Reparations

As a child I was told I needed to stay in school, get a degree, and get a good job. That is my ticket to success and some form of freedom in the United States. My grandmother and grandfather escaped Haiti after a US backed coup installed a dictator, Papa Doc Duvalier in the country. During that time much of Haiti’s intellectual class left the country as refugees. My grandmother came first to segregated Florida a year after the assassination of MLK. She was fair skinned so she avoided much of the Jim Crow laws. (They were still making black people sit in the back of the bus.) My grandfather, much darker skinned arrived, he was a college educated teacher and journalist. He kept looking for teaching jobs in Florida and employers told him his kind will only get cleaning jobs. So after that shock of coming to the “land of opportunity” he and my grandmother came to Boston to find better opportunity. They did, my grandmother became a nurse at New England Baptist Hospital and my grandfather after further education became a teacher at English High. My mother and uncle were sent for in Haiti after my grandparents could make enough money to rent an apartment. My mother, with speaking very little English landed right in the busing crisis and recalls not understanding why white people were throwing rocks and broken glass at her for going to school. My uncle remembers walking to school and being beat up by Irish kids in Hyde Park because he was black. This is the American Dream my mother and her parents were welcomed to.

Fast forward to my growing up and I graduate from college. Land a job with a manufacturing company in Plymouth. I’ve made it. I stayed in school and got a good job. Every once in awhile driving to work I’d see a pick up with a huge confederate flag driving around the area in which I worked. Only after some finding out about my other coworkers, I come to find the a-hole that sits across the desk from me that clearly has no etiquette or manners, in higher position and pay-grade, never went to college. He finished high school and is there because his father works there. My boss’ boss never went to college either and is directed our engineering department on where we should focus our efforts, he’s in sales. All these things were nerve racking to think I put myself in debt to be bossed around by some uneducated guy or subjected to the micro-aggressions of another not due to their qualifications to be there, but by nepotism, and white male privilege. Sociologist Devah Pager found in her research of hiring practices as of 2003 that white people with a criminal record were more likely to get a job over a black person without one. That is more than enough to show the status of race in the country at the present. Needless to say we have a racist, sexist, perverted, neo-fascist, xenophobic, blowhard that benefited from generational wealth trying to “make America great again” as one of the two “viable” choices for president of the “land of the free and home of the brave.”

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