The Crusade

He accused me of making myself suffer, being a “reverse racist,” and being on a “racial crusade.”

Our online relationship had run its course. It came to a final end publicly on Facebook this morning.

He was never my boyfriend, (despite his numerous attempts to woo me). Not my type. His postings always had an aroma of male dominance, a whiff of right wing sauce, and the faint sprinkle of white privilege, lightly steamed in with his “shoulds and woulds.”

I’d question him with, “Explain more about that. I want to be sure I understand you.” We debated our way through Ferguson, Zimmerman, the sexism in football commercials, etc.

Sunday morning, I did the same thing I always do when I first wake up: grab my phone, checked my social media.  His morning status read like this…

“Dudes… if your lady is in a dress with heels and her good purse you gotta do better than your dirty cowboy boots with ratty jeans and a North face jacket. Hoping the latino guy at the end of the bar reads this… your chick is smoking you dude.”

His friends hit the “like” as if it was a morphine drip, and a few responses were collecting, like the crust on the side of the pot when scorching milk.

His friends said, “Maybe she’s a call girl”, and “spends all his money on her and is a hard worker, so we hope!” and “I bet he has a super nice truck though.” From his women friends, things like, “Yeah, he bought her” and “Do his boots curl up?” and the vilest friend of his stated, “Maybe it’s his sister, or cousin, or both.”

Now, for those of you who don’t know me, I have a great sense of humor. Some would categorize me as gregarious. I’m no prude; I can joke with the best of them, make a sailor blush! I believe in free speech, public platforms of expression and intelligent debate, so understand that this post, though meant to be funny, cut deep.

The feminist Latina in me responded with, “Wow! A call girl because she’s “overdressed”? How did this turn in to a chance to insult a woman for how HE is dressed and why was it necessary to mention that the guy at the end of the bar was Latino? Super-nice truck? Incestuous allegations? I’ve seen plenty of non-Latino scrubs at the bar but it’s not mentioned. Epic FAIL.”

The problem with posts like this is that they–wrapped in humor, served with a side of superiority–add to systemic racism.  

I had a choice to scroll past it, and I might have, prior to Michael Brown. I’ve been categorizing my life as of late, as before Michael Brown and after Michael Brown.

His murder changed me. I can no longer look past even the little things.

His friends used me as bait for “reverse discrimination,” for “twisting words” being “too serious” and “seeing things that weren’t there.”  He accused me of making myself suffer, being a “reverse racist,” and being on a “racial crusade.” He also said, “You’ve been pissed off ever since Darin Wilson was found innocent.”

He’s right. Before Michael Brown, I was a peaceful activist. I would debate my brother, “a radical”. I’d ask, “Why are you so angry?” He’d be frustrated with me because his experience growing up brown was different than mine because, “you’re the lighter one.”

I see my little brother now as a crusader, forging new paths in his anger, speaking against injustice, even if it makes him unpopular.

My brother and I are products of parents who were not expected to be successful, told to join the military, take home economics, and know your place. They defied the norms of their families, created a new opportunity for their children, and weren’t even supported by their culture; they were judged. They were not embraced by the white norm either.

After Michael Brown, I recognize that even racism not pointed directly as us, is still racism pointing directly at us. ALL of us.

So my cyber friend and I are kaput. It is for the best, though his debate did lead me to really know my convictions, forced me to do the research.  I am struggling with the de-friending.  I want to keep folks like him on my friend’s list, if for no other reason, than to benefit from their opposing perspective.

Staring at the void where his friendship once took up cyber space, I plan for the coming Monday; the conversations, the protests, the taped mouths as a symbol of the children silenced too soon by gunfire.  Something changed me, post Michael Brown. My students, our relationship, always close, but now, closer. I walk in solidarity with them, preach the importance of student voice, hug them a little tighter, give more class time, less homework, my focus now, is more heart-work.

I realize, they are as young as he was. They make similar mistakes. The road to adulthood is a bumpy lumpy trip. I am reminded of Zora Neale Hurstons words:

“I have been in Sorrow’s kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and a sword in my hands.”

His death awakened a racial crusader in me- I raise my sword, and shield the children with rainbows.

In the aftermath of losing so many people of color to violence, I ask you:

How has your life changed after Michael Brown?

This blog appears as part of the work of CTQ-CO’s culturally responsive team. Learn more about their projects here.

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