My Head Is Not In The Sand

Hey There! My name is Alesha! This is my first ever post on Medium. As I was trying to figure out what my first post on Medium should be, I started thinking, should I just cold turkey write a post from scratch (which I did and it’s still in my draft folder as I write this) or should look back at my previous blogs, compare my writing styles then and now? I’m also on several other platforms, and totally overlooked my 2014 blog posts (which were my first group of blog posts). I totally forgot to pay homage to where I started. I decided to post Medium versions of those first blog posts. I thought I wanted to save these for a future book. And I still plan to, but these next 10 posts is ripping a page out of my school life, a period that I really don’t touch too much nowadays. It’s almost like a journal of some interesting days in my life. I’ll leave it at the word interesting for now. Is there a chance that this could have used more editing before posting on here? Absolutely! But the book version will be the best version of all. I will be writing on a variety of topics, from traveling to entrepreneurship all the way to my favorite foods. And I speak my mind and some of my posts are more blunt than others. If you like what I’m writing, I’d love it if you stick around for a while.

Art Credit Goes To Lee Pearson.

Disclaimer. I wrote this the day after I experienced food poisoning from one of my favorite restaurants. I will try and make it flow better at some point; I also hop around because I didn’t want to forget my thoughts.

I recently visited King’s Island with my little cuzzo. As great as a day that was, a little kid did say some outrageous things to him. My mom over heard him saying. “Whoa. There’s a lot of black people here” Then he asked my cousin “Have you ever been in prison?” Wow! I couldn’t believe my ears. This kid was no older than 10 years old, and he already stereotyping already. Why would you assume the worst about someone based on skin color? I have no clue where he learned that from. I just pulled the kid aside and said look; it’s not a good idea to go around asking people that. It will be taken the wrong way. Trust me youngin, what you said is offensive; say that to other people and I almost can guarantee you will be called a racist and face some backlash. I don’t hate on you even though you said the hurtful comments. I’m just telling you you’re wrong kiddo.

Some of the most ignorant comments I’ve heard came from hearing what some other people that I’ve talked to.

Comment said to Aunt: “I can go up to Mackinaw Island . If you dress up as a maid, you can go up there for free.”

Comment said to my mom: “You’re a double minority. You must have it made.”

They might be trying to relate by joking, but while trying too hard to relate they say highly offensive jokes. Some comments are way too ignorant to respond to. Do you think that you have it made when some people assume things about you and stereotype you? Do you think receiving unfair treatment due to something you have no control over is having it made? Of course you’re insensitive to it and tired of hearing about it because it isn’t your reality. It’s human nature to not care about something that doesn’t directly involve you. So, in your defense: Why should you care about something that doesn’t happen to you? Also, to add to that, being politically correct can sometimes back fire. I hear some people tell my friends: I have black friends, so I’m not racist. My best friend is black. Let me try to take a crack at this: What if they went around saying they have a bunch of white friends all the time? I remember one conversation I was involved in, they say “You have white friends.” I didn’t think people were watching that close to make that type of observation. I was taught from a very early age to not pick friends based on skin color, but pick them on how they treat you by my mom. I took that to heart. Quick fact. Do you know who Viola Liuzzo is? If you don’t you should. She died for black voting rights and for a woman in her time period, she did a lot of things that took pure guts.

Speaking of “minority” can someone out there explain to me where that term originated from? I asked a dept. head that once, because she took it there, and I wasn’t going to back down. Is it a term that you label people that are different than you? I notice that we are trained to use “minority” but does anyone else out there feel like they are being categorized when they call you that or is it just me thinking too much? (unless you are in politics). I have never seen someone go so pale white before because they didn’t know how to respond to me. What’s so wrong with calling me by my first name and getting to know me? I show you that respect, why can’t I get it in return? This article hits it.

After reading that article am I aware that white privilege does exist? Yes. Did some of the things happen to me at college and else where because of the color of my skin? Unfortunately yes. Real deep question I’m getting ready to ask here. What do you do if you don’t use your people’s past history as a crutch, but some people try to get you to use it?

I do not walk into a situation thinking I’ll be stereotyped; or thinking that it will automatically will happen to me. On the other hand, I do recognize when it happens to me. I’m no stranger to discrimination. But I will say this, it’s not fair to be lumped into a category. When I have the opportunity, I usually ask the people doing it “Why do you think this way” to spark conversation. It doesn’t make it right, but from conversations I’ve had with some people, they were taught that growing up; and it took them getting away to realize the stereotypes they were taught about other groups of people are wrong, and they had to untrain themselves. I’m only speaking for myself, we are all unique in our own way. But what connects us all is sharing our own experiences of prejudice.

Notice, I’m really careful to say “some” or “several.” Not everyone is bad, there are good people in the world that knows that racism goes on and it’s wrong. Notice when we were younger, as babies, we didn’t separate ourselves as black, white, Hispanic, Asian; but at some point in the growing process, we learned to start to separate ourselves based on nationality and ethnicity. It’s hard to unlearn something that’s ingrained. It’s because we have examples that justifies the stereotyping, but again, that doesn’t mean it’s right to assume. Salute to everyone out there regardless of your background that rise above the stereotyping. And gets to know someone before jumping to conclusions.

I can’t control how people think, but I can control how I react to it. Being angry is not going to move me forward. Like I told my friends before, if you have an advantage over me, USE IT! I might have to climb another mountain or two to reach the success that the person next to me is having; that doesn’t mean I can’t get the same thing. My head is not in the sand. I’m aware that racism exists. I choose not to dwell on it and think about it 24 hours a day, because that’s counterproductive. Just because I don’t say much, doesn’t mean I’m ignoring it or it’s not on my mind. I’m just pressing forward.

It secretly bothers me that some of my friends always say “are you treating me like this because I’m black.” Have you considered that things might not be working out for you because of your attitude or how you approach things? Seriously. On the other hand I get it. Being of multi-racial heritage, I still catch racist remarks. It’s frustrating to know that you are getting stereotyped, categorized, and based on precognitive notions. (Can you imagine some people telling you that you can’t do things because of something you have no control over?!?!) When I also realize not everyone in the world is bad “or out to get me.” But I can recognize it when it’s happening to me. Until you had something like it happen to you, you don’t know what it’s like. It would have been really immature to say that some of the grades and some of the treatment I’ve gotten in college was due to my race, or blame someone else for why certain things happened to me. While it was unfortunately true, those were battles I kept to myself. How mature would it look for me to blame other people for things I was going through (even if it is true)?

I’m going to be as honest as I can get. I have faced some stubborn bias during my time in college, I’m sorry to say. I’m only speaking for myself here. It’s so wrong to lump people in a category, yet I found it happening to me way too many times. I love my friends that I met and they know that, but this is the hidden pains I didn’t tell them about. If you are fortunate enough to graduate from college on time, yet alone graduate and get a degree in the first place, be grateful. I’ve had some interesting things happen that I don’t talk about, even with the people I love most. I’ve seen two extremes amongst friends, many have graduated, others didn’t make it, I’ve been to way too many funerals for people my age, and I’ll leave it at that. One in my opinion is too many. My thing is I’m just sticking it out trying to deal with it. No one likes a constant whiner or complainer. (Even though you might have every right to.) After all, how can you explain that you’ve had hardships that are out of your control? It would look like I’m making up excuses, right? So I stay silent. Side note: I do not judge people who take longer to graduate; I’m in that club (and damn I want out as bad as they want me out). Some people have the tendency to ask insensitive questions, it’s easy to judge, especially when it’s not happening to you. What’s harder is trying to explain to the people who don’t ever understand it because they never lived it. BUT with all that said, If they are willing to listen, I may share.

Otherwise it’s like beating a dead horse, it’s not worth announcing it to people that don’t care in the first place (and encourage the behavior).

I’ll say this: the biggest thing I resented about school is they put limits on me that I didn’t put on myself way too many times to count. If I don’t make things a racial issue, then why are they? Also, one size doesn’t fit all. Just because you helped one student in a particular way doesn’t mean it will work for others. It just depends. I’ll never forget some of the comments over the years. “How are we supposed to help a student like you? Me: Simple. Help me how you help other students. I don’t want special treatment (or thrown a label seeking help), why was that so hard for them to understand? If I struggle, I struggle. Why does it sometime seem like there has to be extra labels when I seek help? Programs in place were made to help out with diversity and make it a fair playing field for those who otherwise wouldn’t have the chance. Have they considered that these programs that meant well can sometimes be a detriment to the people they meant to help? In a few of my experiences, I was made to fill stupid, talk downed to, and they ended up doing more stereotyping and generalizations than if I joined a ordinary organization. I always used to think these groups were made to respect different cultures, and uplift, not do the exact same thing they were fighting against. The biggest thing? My mom taught me not to use my race (or is it more appropriate to say races?) growing up. They used my race as an excuse for me, when I didn’t use it myself. Keeping that in mind, I found myself being on my own quite a bit, not sure who to talk to and who would understand me and where I was coming from. And sure, I didn’t “follow the rules” or fall into stereotypes, so I paid a price for it. Just because some in society sees me in a certain light doesn’t mean I see myself the same way. I was not born in slave times and I’m not limited to or treated how my black ancestors were treated. I do not know what it’s like to share the struggles like my ancestors because I was not born during those times. Reading about it in a book and experiencing it are two completely different things. I’m not denying racism or brushing it under a carpet, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this. I choose not to live in the past or dwell on racism 24 hours in a day. I’m loving and living in the present. Talking about “the struggle” won’t move me forward, taking action despite the nonsense does. So I’m moving forward. So when someone tells me or implies that I can’t do something due to my skin color, I consider the statement highly ignorant. (I can say is I went to private schools my whole life and I did not miss a meal growing up.) I don’t like it when people make excuses for me. Ponder on that.

I’m glad I surrounded by acting coaches that see the talent, and not the color. With one of the people I’m currently working with, he just told me this quote and it always stuck with me “People want to be equal, but throw themselves in groups.” And who knows? What if you do find yourself in a situation where your facing oppression? Keep going, and don’t let barriers get in your way. It doesn’t do you any good to keep thinking about why you didn’t get a certain role. There could be a lot of reasons you didn’t get a part. I agree, I can’t and won’t sit here and worry about why I didn’t get in. Very true. I always approach my auditions with a positive attitude. And I do my homework. It’s my job to live in the moment, not focus on things I have no control over. I will not get in the way of my own success. Why put limits on myself that isn’t there? And if they want you, they will cast you (or make a part for you).

Just for the record, when in the unfortunate event I get stereotypical roles, I turn them down. I did/do not have that luxury in school, but I do take advantage of it now. I remember one time in particular, a actor professor asked me “You have a very strange range, why don’t you do things based on your ethnicity?” Well, the roles they would give me based on my “ethnicity” were very stereotypical roles. No, I do not relate to being a teenage parent, being a pregnant teen, etc because I haven’t had those things happen to me (by the way those are stereotypes). Is this strange range the simple fact I liked taking on roles that were different for me and what I’m used to, intellectually challenged me as a human being and an actress? I’d say so.

I also received a comment once that I’ll have it harder because I’m a woman of color. Hmm. Well then. That might be true; again, I can’t control how people think, but I can control how I react to it. Being around supportive people that don’t let me use this as an excuse, I simply just rise above the ignorance. At the end of the day, if you are successful, that it all that matters. The other stuff is secondary. I have no control over the color of my skin. I’ll never know if I don’t try, I refuse to go through life saying “I’ll have in harder than other people.” A lot of times people self sabotage
themselves from success, and I won’t let myself fall into that pattern. I refuse to let other people’s limits get next to me. Instead of looking at my differences as disadvantages (like some people like to point out to me) I’ll use them as advantages. Just because the person next to me has it easier, doesn’t mean I still can’t get it. I don’t mind climbing the extra mountain. I have done it before and I’ll keep doing it. And anyways, why does my differences have to be see as disadvantages? I don’t want to be like everyone else and being I love myself. It’s the differences that make you stand out and I embrace it, I do not hate it! This is the message I want to send them: So quit putting weird limits in my head because I won’t listen and I’ll lose so much respect for you.

P.S. Casting directors have a right to pick who they want to pick to cast in their projects. If they want a certain type, they have a right to want a certain type.

If I stand out, I just stand out. :D

It’s sad that we are still in a period of time where you are stereotyped based on thing you don’t have any control over. It’s human nature to categorize. Stereotypes exist because some people live them. But it also takes a big person to do the right thing. I’m sensitive to assuming things about people and stereotyping because its happened to me. Honestly some things are simply too ignorant to justify with an answer. Will we ever get to a point where we can truly rise above racism and discrimination? I hold on to faith that we can. I haven’t given up on people completely. Hopefully my kids and grand kids have it even better.

I know race is a touchy topic. I know I’ve been in many rooms where some conversations I wouldn’t repeat. Of course, common sense tells you there’s conversations that are better left behind closed doors. On the flip side I think issues don’t get solved because people are afraid to talk about it. A lot of peeps ask me things that most would find offensive, not to offend, but to gain genuine knowledge on how to approach a situation without looking racist. I also tell the don’t approach everyone with those same questions, not everyone will react the same way. I’m not going to flip off the handle on
you, but I can’t speak for anyone else. I have some other stories to tell, and I’ll tell them at the right place and the right time to the people that are willing to listen, not in this post.

I wrote this whole post because my head is not in the sand. I’m not ignoring the issues. Again, Like I’ve stated many times, I choose not to dwell on it because it’s counterproductive. I choose to be color brave, not color blind. Let’s work together and talk about ways to overcome. When the unfortunate
situations come up, I’ll pick my battles and respond accordingly. If no one ever speaks up, then people will think it’s ok to continue the behavior. I did have something’s happen to me in college and in life that’s not fair; (how would you feel if you try to appeal grades because you know in your heart they were given to you unfairly but the school sides with the professor? Hurtful? Extremely. Or if you had doctor’s notes for medical condition(s) and several professors don’t want to accommodate you? I’ve even sat in meetings where it is known that some professors didn’t want to accommodate students with disabilities because it was too much work, too inconvenient, or something they don’t want to do. You can’t make people do the right thing no matter how much proof you have. I’m not going to sit here and act like I did everything right or claim to be a perfect student because I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not. But to keep it simple, I’ve had experiences in college that definitely rubbed me the wrong way. Hurtful? Extremely. Financial aid/scholarships don’t care about the situations, family deaths, and missing days of school to attend funerals. I’m just a nobody and one of a number, and as far as they are concerned, on paper I look like a slacker. I’m just keeping it real. There are plenty of organizations I won’t be able to experience due to a strict GPA requirement. No exceptions. No one cares about the circumstances behind why your GPA is the way it is, you either qualify or you don’t. It’s a cold world.) but then again I had many blessings that I choose to spend even more time focusing my attention. I would like to thank the few organizations that gave me a chance. You will never know how much it meant to me. I never did tell my friends or any of my organizations what happened/what’s happening. I just do the best that I can with the jobs that you trusted me with under weird circumstances. It’s called the art of getting hit, insulted and knocked down and still being able to keep a straight face. No matter what I hope I show that I care. Several friends mentioned to me on more than one occasion that I should look into getting tutored. I really wish it was that simple, where I can get descent grades with that. I did get a professor to confess to me that professors can give you a bad grade off of liking you or not. It happens a lot more than you think. Trust me I know. I wish I could say I partied too much.

I won’t live my life being angry. That little kid that said those racist things about my cuzzo? He is in my prayers.

God, please put me in a position one day to show people what’s really possible. Everyone has their obstacles to overcome, I’m no different. Amen.

Peeps=people. I tend to use peeps instead of people sometimes. FYI. I’m able to write posts like this because of my experiences. I could write more. But I have to find a stopping point, otherwise this post would be 10 miles long.

I wrote this over 7/11, 7/22, 7/30, 7/31 and pretty much the whole month of July. This is one of my triplets.

-Alesha

P.S. I have to think back to what the triplets were. I remember writing three of these blog posts back to back and have to investigate further what I was talking about lol.

Hello! I’m Alesha! I’m a musician, actress, entrepreneur and writer. Follow on Twitter.