What I Saw Growing Up
And How Kids Are Still Seeing it Today
Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my Grandma.
For most of my childhood, she lived by herself in a house right outside of downtown Baltimore.
Down in her basement, we’d watch all kinds of TV shows. NBA games. Rugrats specials. You name it. But there’s one show in specific that sticks with me.
One night, we watched a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) history special.
I don’t remember what channel the special was on, what its title was, but I do remember how it made me feel seeing archived videos of white men in white hoods burning crosses and yelling cries of hatred against blacks and other minority groups.
As a young boy, I was afraid to walk alone in my Grandma’s house after watching this special knowing there were people out there who hated me and wanted to kill me because of the color of my skin. Was the KKK going to come to my Grandma’s house and lynch me?
This is a reality for black boys and girls growing up in the United States. We’re met with the truth of our history and oppression at a young age.
Now, fast forward to 2017…
On Saturday morning, hundreds of white supremacists and neo-nazis organized to march through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, and make a violent, forceful statement of hatred and evil.
Don’t get it twisted. There may not have been any burning crosses in Charlottesville, but these men and women were KKK terrorists. Except, this time around, they were unmasked.
Why is it important these men and women were unmasked?
Because today the KKK isn’t only protected by freedom of speech laws, but its demonstrators are incited by the rhetoric and policies of Donald Trump and the apathy shown by people in our neighborhoods, congregations, and political offices who have supported Trump and not only failed to speak out against white supremacy but have encouraged it through language like “make America great again,” “look at both sides,” and “just ignore them.”
Today’s KKK terrorists not only feel protected, but welcomed and supported. They feel like they belong and know that Donald Trump won’t take any hard action against them because they put him in office. Frankly, he has become their figure head.
I share my childhood story along with today’s issues because they’re not just today’s issues. These aren’t just today’s KKK terrorists. While there have been incidents of progress in the United States, hatred still exists. White supremacy is still given a platform. Hate and fear are still being spewed.
Now is not the time to be silent because, right now in 2017, a black child is sitting in his/her grandma’s basement and they’re not watching a KKK history special. They’re watching CNN.
And what they’re seeing isn’t drastically different from what I saw as a kid. They’re seeing men and women yell cries of hatred against blacks and other minority groups.
These kids aren’t only seeing white people who hate them and want to kill them because of the color of their skin. They're seeing a white supremacist drive a car into a crowd of counter-protesters with intent to kill.
And I have no doubt these kids are wondering like I did:
Is the KKK going to come to Grandma’s house and hurt me?