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June 8, 2015

This is what its like to be a white person in the public pool in McKinney, Texas USA.

You need somebody else to ask you to read about the history of segregated pools… about housing discrimination and restrictive covenants… about the history of black women in this country. And after you have read all the things, you need somebody else to ask you to take a look at your own life, your own decisions. To be white means you haven’t had to do much such reading or to do much examination of your own life and your own decisions. What it’s like to be white is not to have to be questioned like this or to be told by anybody to be any different than you are already are, since you are in your rights to be, to be just as you are, and to not have to be different:

Who are you trying to keep out of your restricted neighborhood? Your private community pool? How often do you call the police instead of parents over the inconvenience of a teenage party? Who do you assume is or isnt in your neighborhood? Were you hopeful for white neighbors? Do you even see anyone else? When this happens in your neighborhood, will you just watch? Will you use your body to protect children or to ignore them, or to hurt them? Yes, you must learn and reflect and decide how you will be different.

(This is what its like to be a black girl in America.)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2015 7:28 pm

    I have a girl about that age, and I thought about what it would feel like if this were done to her. And I thought about our privilege that this will almost certainly never happen to her.

  2. June 14, 2015 8:45 am

    There are somethings you will never know if you don’t have a black-girl-body, if you are not or have not been a black girl or woman. Here’s what too many of us know, groping hands and sexually explicit requests and demands from girlhood, long before womanhood and frenzied demands for compliance from the first emergence of the slightest curve on our frames.

    Our bodies are torn from us, gobbled up by relatives and strangers of all races. We have been put on display alive and dead, fetishized, coveted, demonized, ridiculed and raped on an industrial scale to produce more of us.

    One particularly enduring experience of being a black girl or woman anywhere on this world is the right white women and men assert over our bodies. They put their hands in our hair and think they have done us a favor if they have asked permission first. Then become enraged when we say no. One woman offered me a Christian apology and hug to which I foolishly/innocently consented to find her stroking my now accessible hair. They demand explain we explain our skin – can we tan? do we burn? – our grooming and account for all of blackness everywhere.

    — The Reverend, Wil Gafney, Ph.D.

    SIMON: Yeah, that’s – well, and the principal characters in the book [you wrote] are all white. Did you…

    SCATTERGOOD: Well, except for Emma, of course.

    SIMON: Emma, Emma. But did you think about making any attempt to put in the story on the other side of town, too?

    SCATTERGOOD: I really didn’t because I did not see that as my story to tell. I tried very hard to flesh out the African-American characters. Certainly, I had a tremendous love for Emma. And I felt like I really wanted her to not be a stereotype.

    — Augusta Scattergood, author of Glory Be, (a novel for young people in circulation in the Public Library of McKinney, Texas USA today)

    The one day I check on news back in America, I find my hometown at the heart of another racial controversy. Black teenagers, invited to a pool party with other kids of all colors in a predominately white suburban neighborhood, confronted, arrested while white teens were left standing an untouched. Instead of a Texas Ranger win, I was greeted with images of a McKinney cop with his knee in the center of teenage girl’s back as she cried for her mother. I watched in horror as white men, no doubt parents themselves, stood by and watched a police officer pull a gun on unarmed black teens in bathing suits just before he drug a young woman by her hair and ground her face into the dirt. Cursed out and handcuffed, these teenage swimmers were treated with more aggression than the bikers that shot up a Twin Peaks restaurant during lunch on a couple of weeks ago Sunday.

    Professor Maria Dixon Hall, Ph.D., of a university in Dallas near McKinney, writing from London, where she’s teaching this summer.

    One comment I saw about the McKinney video says that the girl was “sassing back” at the police and that “if she wants to talk like adult then she’s going to be treated like an adult.” This kind of justification makes my blood boil! Sassing back is speaking up and saying something to an authority figure when you are expected to be silent. While the term sassing back doesn’t exclusively apply to women and girls, it is nonetheless a phrase with gendered connotations. How many boys are called “sassy”? Is it that no one had the right to say anything to this officer running around yelling at black teen boys to sit on the ground, or is it that this black female should have kept quiet?

    — Elise M. Edwards, PhD, Lecturer in Christian Ethics at Baylor University refusing to let her African American female viewing of the young lady captured on video be called “sassing back” – Rhetorically, she’s asking everyone of us, regardless of our race, gender, body size, and gun size, “What’s wrong with this picture?”

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