- Posted August 25, 2014 by
Team iReport featured this story
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Your view of the Ferguson protests
This Happens to White People too
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
This is in response to Kimberly Norwood's opinion piece on CNN. This doesn't happen to white people. (http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/25/opinion/norwood-ferguson-sons-brown-police/index.html?hpt=hp_t3) Update: Author has changed her title to Why I fear for my sons.
I belong to the human race. I am more than just a "white person", I am a human being. Like you I have wants, needs and desires for both myself and my children. I don't think that it is right or polite to address a person or peoples buy their color code. "White People" "Black People" "Brown People" or "Yellow People". When you do, you set a racial divide whether you intend to or not and from that opinions are formed. I guess my real problem is if I wrote an opinion and titled it "This doesn't happen to black people" I would be called a racist because I singled out the black people. Yet it's ok for you to single out my skin color and if I call you out on it, I am being racist? This attitude serves to do nothing but fuel a divide that will bring my children and your children into the streets only to die for an archaic belief system.
I have known white racist, black racist, brown ones and even a few red ones and find what they all have in common is the need to blame another for what they lack. Be it a job or a big home or nice car or a better school for their kids. It is so much easier to blame another then to get up and change it. Should I be upset that your income is a full 1/3 larger mine or that you have a nice house in the suburbs whereas mine is merely a house (with a failing septic system) in a ok neighborhood? Or maybe I should be jealous that you shop at Macys and I at Wal-Mart? I'm not. I could use the color card to say that you were afforded better opportunities because you were black. I can't and won't because I don't believe it! The fact of matter is you worked for what you have you earned it. It wasn't because of the color of your skin but the strength of your devotion. You like me struggle, perhaps with different things but still we both have our own problems. It's called life. I am happy with mine are you?
Few years back my husband and I went car shopping, we both needed something more reliable then what we had to get us to and from work. Armed with cash pulled from our 401k we headed out to car lots. We browsed the lot till we found two cars that fit both our budget and need and waited. Not one salesperson came out to chat with us. When we sought one, no one had the time. Is it because we were white and most of the salesmen were of different nationalities? I doubt it. We just didn't appear to have the means to afford what they had. My jeans and old comfy shirt over a pregnant tummy and his old jeans and work shirt didn't scream we had much money. We were judged on our appearance much as you described in your Macys incident. The difference is, I took my money elsewhere. We bought 2 cars from the Saturn dealer that greeted us the moment we stepped on the lot. We took those two cars back to the first lot, found the sales manager and showed them to him and told him what happened at his lot. Maybe next time, for the next person that shows up that looks like they can't afford a car, someone will help.
Several years ago at a KMART, I was stopped on my way out because someone had reported that I may have been taking 5 finger discounts. I too was searched and nothing was found. I was sent on my way with not so much as an apology. I was a single mother of 3 boys then and money was tight despite working 2 jobs. My clothes came from the thrift store so that that my boys could wear old navy and such to school so they fit in. I remember the security guy telling me that if I just got a job and didn't rely on welfare I wouldn't have these problems. I thought to myself "Really, did he just say that?" I was judged because I had no ring on my finger so I must be on welfare. I avoid shopping at Kmart if at all possible, and this is 15 years later. If enough people stop shopping where people are treated badly for any reason, big business will take notice and make changes, or fail.
Years ago, I had 4 of my kids at Stater Bros (that's a grocery store here) with me when a woman walked up and inquired if they were all mine as she cooed at my newborn in the basket. I gleamed as I told her yes and my 10 year old announced that the twins were at home with their big sister. The horror that I had 7 kids turned her cold towards me and promptly said " well I am sure I am paying for them" . The oldest daughter was my husband's from his first marriage and just as much mine as the 6 I had birthed. I turned her cold right back on her when I said, "well no, but if you would like I can start sending you bills." She stormed away. The irony to the story is she was in front of me in line (yes I will admit I did it intentionally) and paid for her grocery haul with an EBT card or food stamps. Because I had a large family she drew a conclusion that I was on state aid. We're not. I was angry after she paid, then I realized what I needed wasn't anger but pity and sorrow. Pity because she spends her life judging and sorrow because she will raise judgmental children and the cycle will continue.
I too have older sons, 23 , 21 and 19. They too have never been arrested and finished school with 3.0 and above grade point averages. When they leave my house I worry. White on White Violence, Black on White Violence and Brown on White violence happens a lot. Let me put that a better way, our young people are maiming and killing each other at an alarming rate.
In the area I live in, being young is a reason for the police to stop and search you for contraband. I worry that the new breed of police officer is going to take offence to something one of my boys say and harm or kill them. If that happened, unlike Ferguson, no one will riot and few will care, just another white boy killed by the cops. Nothing to see here, keep moving. You see, area has a lot to do with how or kids are treated. In your neighborhood you worry about their color with the police. In my area the only requirement to be harassed by the police is being young and breathing.
It's hard to find a job these days, it has nothing to do with my sons skin color or clothes (they will wear suits to apply for jobs) and everything to do with their age. Companies that are hiring are taking the older ones with families to support leaving my boys with little opportunity.
Your family is not so different then mine. Your worries are very similar to mine. Were both Mothers and we both want our kids safe and happy. To be and have more than us. The only difference is you see a white woman, I just see another woman with similar struggles.
Until the day that everyone can see just another person struggling I fear that your boys and my boys will both lose. It is up to everyone to raise a better future, to see beyond color, money, religion and the many other things that make us different. We are, even if we don't see it, one race.... The human race and we need each other if we are to survivie.
Feedback after thought: What I am trying to say is everyone has fell victim to prejudice but its how we react to it that matters the most. We either feed into and make it true or dispel them with fact.
End note: I wrote this rather quickly and I am sure you will find errors in spelling, grammer and punctuation... I'll fix um as I find um :)