Monday, May 30, 2011

The "A" in Achievement Stands For Asterisk

I visited Old Navy in search of some light wash jeans at an affordable price (I practice smart shopping. lol), and as I continued on my search, I ran into someone I knew from my high school years in Evansville, IN (a white male, for the record). During our conversation, we filled each other in our personal progressions along with those of our mutual friends. I gained the news that one of my friends from high school, who happens to be bi-racial, recently graduated with his Masters degree in business from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, a top 20 U.S. institution and now works for a top global accounting firm. Big things right? In my jubilation for my friend’s accomplishments, I was interrupted by the unsolicited comment from my acquaintance with whom I was talking that simply stated an asterisk need to be placed by his success because he was “a smart black guy” (record skip—now, what now?). Initially, I paused thinking that maybe I misunderstood the comment, and just as I was about to chalk it up to not listening well, he reiterated his sentiment as calmly as saying, “It’s about 75 degrees today.”

Dumbfounded, I immediately exited before I reacted irrationally, but continuing my day, I thought to myself, “Will this mentality ever change? Is it my job to change it? Are ignorant people simply ignorant and should not be paid any mind?”

Now, a little background on myself for you. I grew up with diverse groups of people; male, female, Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, upper class, middle class, lower class (according to socioeconomic standards) and everyone in between. With that being said, I learned the arts of inclusion, acceptance, and striking common ground with others to increase comfort levels at a young age. In my interactions with different races, as the subject inevitably arises, I make sure they know I avoid racial slurs and derogatory comments so to make sure they know racism occupies no real estate in my state of mind. At NO point in time do I want my Black or non-Black friends to think that I share in any discriminatory thoughts/feelings about any ethnic group, especially, my own. I, like numerous others, have encountered racism, prejudice, discrimination, and general ignorance on a semi-regular basis since I first read the word “nigger” in a Ben Carson autobiography when I was in about the 3rd grade.

I attempt to extract knowledge from every experience I encounter, and the ones immersed in race relations bear no exception. The presence of the aforementioned states of thought never ceases to amaze or surprise me, and perhaps, in a cynical manner of thinking, I prepare myself for true feelings of prejudice to surface sooner or later through ascending a guard of low expectations for others. As racial conflicts have arisen throughout my life, some have been resolved with words, some through other means, and some have gone unresolved. I will remind you of one of my best friends who was murdered last September in a hate crime, so if I seem sensitive to this subject, it is because I am tired. Tired of being surrounded by prejudice, racial insensitivity, and general ignorance with no desire to increase knowledge, which brings me back to yesterday.

I understand that people possess various feelings on the subject, so I would genuinely like to hear from you, the reader. What do you think? Do you feel that it is not that big of a deal? Do you feel that we, as a people, need to accept the ignorance and continue on in our pursuit of progression? Is it not our fight to fight?

Thanks for checking in the GAME with Just GQ! Stay tuned for updates on the NEW, as we near its launch! God Bless!