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Saturday, April 19, 2008

"Indian Giving" and Other Racist Reminders

Yesterday, while pet-sitting for a friend in Sanford, Florida, I stood out in her driveway loading luggage in my car when two young white males walked by. Apparently perturbed by my brown skinned self in their lily-white cul-de-sac and further enraged by my "Support Indian Sovereignty" bumber sticker, they felt the need to remind me of my place. One boy loudly shouted to the other one, ""Hey Look, An Indian Giver."

I didn't look up. They were trying to get a rise out of me and I was not going to appease them. Or maybe I was just too shocked? Or maybe because as a person of color, I have developed such a thick skin and a slow response time to potentially dangerous stimuli that it sometimes takes a while for racist and derogatory statements to register? I don''t know. Maybe I should admit I was scared but that feels like defeat so I won''t. I was pissed.

I had been warned about this particular town and maybe I should have listened but after living all over this country, its not clear to me that racism is something I can avoid. Last year I was in my front yard in an entirely different part of Florida when a car full of white boys drove by and yelled "nigger" at me. It was the "Space Coast"- where the average citizen has post-graduate education and an income over $50,000. You don''t have to be a redneck to be a racist.

Am I a Black or an Indian? Does it matter? Racists, it seems, come in many sizes and shapes and their hate adapts.

Whether it is the little white boy in Frantz Fanon's story, saying to his mother, ""Look, a Negro", teenage redneck white boys saying "'Look, an Indian Giver," or a car full of rich white boys yelling, "Hey, Nigger" its meant as a reminder to those of us brown-skinned humans who have forgotten what our position is in society.

Just in case for a moment we have imagined we are human beings
living lives full of inspiring possibilities and beautiful promise........

The racists are always there to remind us.
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