I have lived in Chicago all my life. The entire city is not a shithole. I lived in a house on the southside until I couldn’t afford the property taxes and the upkeep. That neighborhood was economically challenged, but beautiful, lush and green in spring and summer and I miss it. The apartment I share now with my grown daughter is in a neighborhood packed with more people, but they are both persons of color and white — both well-to-do and as economically challenged as I am. I keep my wits about me on the street because it’s a smart thing to do no matter where one lives in the world. That’s a fact of life centered on no one’s skin color.
I am black in case you don’t know. My father was a cop and both he and my mother taught my brothers not to resist if they were approached by police. They were taught that their black skin would make any encounter with police more dangerous for them than to anyone else, whether they had done anything wrong or not. They were taught to keep as calm as possible and to do what they were told. It’s ‘the talk’ black people who love their sons have been having with them since before we can remember. Unfortunately, it’s been proven that when black people ‘do as they’ve been told’ they don’t just die inside, they are all too often killed.
People like me thought that once people saw the brutality on tape, the inequality would lessen, but over the years since white people have seen it happen with their own eyes, we’ve come to see that that wasn’t the point. The point is the implicit bias behind these all too frequent events, and at its worst it’s about the intended violence of racism.
I don’t want to argue with you, because when I hear things like ‘reverse rascism’ and Chicago is ‘a shithole’, I know I don’t have the strength to put myself through it. I already live through so much that controls my life in ways it seems you refuse to consider. All I really want to say about what Sherry Kappel wrote is that I saw her heart in it. She’s using her understanding and her words to say something that many white people can’t seem to hear from me or any person of color. I appreciate her effort very much.
Maybe you don’t like her exact words, and maybe they hurt you in some way to have made you reply the way you did, but denying or mischaracterizing my life’s experience doesn’t make a relevant point about your discomfort. Saying she’s wrong to talk about implicit bias and racism, and saying her view is reverse racism, is the easiest way to communicate that you don’t want anyone to understand the experience people of color have in our society. That’s a cruelty people of color live with every day, and when any of us thrive, it isn’t because that cruelty doesn’t exist for them, it’s despite it.