Being An Anti-Racist Requires Breaking Your Silence
If you’re not calling out racism in your community, it’s time to start.
Americans across the country were shocked after watching the extrajudicial murder of Ahmaud Arbery as it was broadcast all over social media. Equally shocking was the determination that the video was released in an attempt to vindicate the murderers. Thus representing a problem with a larger portion of American society than most would care to admit.
It displayed a level of thinking, of reasoning, that is derived from prejudicial thinking that has existed for centuries.
I’m a product of the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area. In the 1980s I was a skate punk with a mohawk traversing the streets in New York City and hanging out in various boroughs with various crowds. At 13 years old, already a result of gang activity, I discovered a group known as SHARP (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice). The group was similar to the Guardian Angels with a focus on stopping neo-nazi attacks in clubs and dark alleys that were prevalent all over the city at the time.
In that environment, all you had to do was wait. You could go to any club to watch your favorite bands and neo-nazis would eventually show up to start trouble. All you would have to do was wait for provocation. it was then that we would intervene in defense of whomever they would attack or harass — often women or young girls.
These guys were easy to spot and even easier to run off.
I eventually moved to Texas by way of Miami in the 1990s. In Texas, I was exposed to a suburban type of racism I thought no longer existed. Over time, I would come to learn that much of the language in the rural and suburban South reflected a more open type of bigotry. This was especially true being around people who think I’m white — which happens with regularity.
In high-school, the actions of our “fellow classmates” were appalling. My brother was attacked in our first week of school for being a “spic” simply because of our last name. Needless to say, we spent much of our last year of high school either suspended or in in-school suspension for delivering too many free knuckle-sandwiches. Something I’m still not ashamed of.