Wednesday, June 10, 2015

48 Days, Then 49: One of the Good Ones (June 9-10, 2015)

 I wanted my first blog in a long time to be a good one--nice, airy, funny, me. But, I can't because in 48 days I will be 49 and it's time for me to admit that I have a problem. I am addicted to being "one of the good ones." I'm non-threatening, self-effacing, forgiving. These are pretty good qualities, but it's all for show.  The truth sits on my heart, squeezing it, causing physical pain. I want to yell and scream and pull the curtain back so you can see that the wizard is just a man, the emperor has no clothes, and, damn it, racism exists.

But I can't say the "R" word. I'm "one of the good ones."

I pretend to agree when you say, "I don't see color." Somehow, though, you manage to ask ME why all those black kids are acting that way. Did you ask your white friend that?

What's wrong with seeing color anyway? No one picks a daisy thinking that it is a rose because "I just don't see color." What you mean when you say that is "I don't see you like I see those other black people.

"You're 'one of the good ones'."

When that girl at Europa books helped everyone in front of me then, dismissed me with half a glance, I walked across the campus giving her every excuse in the book. She thought I was a kid (So I was a customer). Her shift was over (no, she went to the end of the counter and started talking to her friend who seemed uncomfortable that she was ignoring me). She was having a bad day (Dang, I went there?) It was not until I got to my apartment that I accepted that I had experienced a moment with her. I wouldn't let myself admit that all the people in front of my had one thing in common. Because contrary to what a lot of people believe, most people don't like to find that they have been in the presence of a racist.

Most people want simple answers...especially if they are "one of the good ones."

There are many of us out there. I noticed them throughout this non-revelationary moment in history where we are finding that blacks in America may experience the world differently than non-blacks when it comes to treatment by authority figures. We are the wait and see ones. The ones who don't re-post video footage until we have all the facts. And when we do repost, we don't call it racism. We say, "Judge for yourself." We let our friends...the non-black ones, especially...use the word. I can't speak for others, but I sigh with relief that someone else said it first...someone acceptable.

Because I can maintain my status as "one of the good ones."

I fear loss of friendships the most. I imagine some reading this post and thinking, "I didn't know SHE was that way.

Why would you? When I told you about a kid stealing stuff from my classroom and you said, "I'm glad that I work with the good, white kids," I only said, "Actually, the thief was white." I didn't ask why you assumed otherwise.

When you said that the kids who cry racism drop out of school and those who don't will go on to  graduate, I didn't correct you by telling you that I know a PhD, a poet, and  people who will let you know, in eloquent terms, why saying, "At least that kid doesn't have one of those ridiculous names like LaShawn or Raekwon," is a racist statement. I know a woman who told me that she named her children plain names so that they would be treated better.

She is "one of the good ones" too.

When I told you that a group of boys in a car in my neighborhood yelled, "White Power!" at me, and you turned it into a joke (maybe they said white powder, haha), I let it go. You don't know that I was gripped with fear. I was alone out there.

When you told me that a kid complained that someone called him a nigger and you replied, "Well, are you one?" Because words will never hurt... I got it. If you don't have a nigger mentality, then you shouldn't be upset that you were called one. Except, I can still hear the boys who yelled nigger cunt at me on West Campus, and how those two words smashed everything I thought about myself as a student at The University of Texas. My g.p.a. stellar, my future heart in my shoes. Two words. How could they?

I'm "one of the good ones."

When I drove up to my school for the last three weeks and saw the Confederate flag proudly displayed on the back of a student's truck (kids will be kids, slavery is over, Obama is president, get over it already), I told a few people who would understand. My friends, the not so "good ones", would have marched to the office and complained. They may have been told "kids will be kids," but they would have left with the knowledge that they spoke up.

When I responded to the video from Mckinney and spoke my mind, my REAL mind, I didn't sleep well. I did it again today, and I nervously waited on a response. When I didn't get one, I felt dismayed that I might have lost a friend. Someone I knew from years ago who probably didn't give me a second thought.

I wonder if birds feel uncomfortable breaking out of their eggs? Is it painful coming out of the cocoon?

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." -- Anais Nin

I've always been a late bloomer...except for my boobs.

So, my friends, how would you know how I really felt? I've have been so skillfully lying to you all these years.

I'm done with being "one of the good ones." This blog is my rehab. Join me on my journey from sobriety to indulgence and excess.

49 is a good age to kick an addiction.


  1. Thanks for sharing your feelings. "Maybe they are having a bad day." I think that way too. I didn't share mine for a long time and it is paralyzing. When people are insensitive, dismissive, or rationalize racist comments they simply preserve the old way this country operated. There is more to why kids misbehave no matter the color. Privilege and history affects kids, adolescents and adults.

  2. 49 is an awesome age to do anything. Enjoy the journey into indulgence and excess. Ripping the bandage away is actually the hardest part. I too remember the West Campus incident and others...I think that one day, those will be a thing of the past but I am not so sure when one day will come.

  3. Thank you for having the courage to share your experiences. Some of us never have the courage to ask questions and understand/appreciate differences in others. It makes me sad to see that people are treated so differently just because of the color of their skin. I wish we could all be appreciated as beautiful daisies.

  4. This honest voice you have, it's one of the good ones.
    Always rich, still maturing.
    With growing volume and resonating timbre.
    P.S. I remember too.

  5. I love you, Kasandra. I've said it before, but I will say it again. You are one of the most courageous people I know. I've read through this post several times, and have wanted to comment for a while, but I didn't know how to put words to all the thoughts swirling around in my head. Even now I'm nervous to say anything, because I'm afraid I will say something wrong, send a message I don't mean to communicate. I'm afraid I will lose your friendship as I fumble through my thoughts.

    I don't know how else to say this other than to just say it. I am white and I have spent 36 years on this planet ignorant of the privilege afforded to me because of the color of my skin. It's embarrassing honestly, and infuriating that I'm just now coming face to face with this truth that has been staring me in the face my whole life. Even as I type this I feel sick with embarrassment and anger at how blind I have been.

    I've been reading a lot of articles and blog posts about racism lately because I no longer want to live in ignorance. Everything I read makes me want to vomit. Vomit at my oblivion to this issue. Vomit at my privilege and the ease with which I have moved through life. Vomit as I start to have the smallest inkling of an idea of what Blacks in this country have to deal with EVERY DAY, the fear and injustice and so many other things I can't relate to. Mostly I want to vomit because I feel so overwhelmed with these new realizations and how powerless I feel to change anything. And then I want to vomit again because I feel ashamed that I'm just now even beginning to think about this huge, important, unbelievable issue.

    After all of that I then I want to cry because, well, I love you and can't believe that we lived together for 4 years and I was so clueless and ignorant and I wonder what that must have been like for you. I'm sorry if I hurt you. I'm sorry because I know I probably said things that were racist. I won't even try to justify any of that by saying I didn't know better because I SHOULD have known better.

    I hope after reading this you will still want to be my friend, but most of all I'm glad you are finding your voice, and I'm glad I am opening my eyes.