Hey Minnie of Facebook This is Why We Take a Knee.

Hey Minnie of Facebook This is Why We Take a Knee.
In honor of justice.

Minnie Mouse (and the name has been changed to protect the stupid, insensitive person on Facebook who said this.

I‘d like some specific, right now examples of what pain, degradation and racism you've experienced personally. All of you who commented. I'm not asking to be funny, I'm seriously asking to learn. Thanks.

Well Minnie you couldn't possibly be serious but just to humor you I’ll start with my family history on just a few incidents and move on up to this week.

My grandmother lived in a small town in Louisiana. One day the overseer came to her home to speak to her father. It was time to send her older sister, she was about 12 years old, up to the big house for the pleasure of the master. In stead her father sent his youngest to an orphanage in New Orleans and took the rest of his family on the trek north to get away. Mind you this all took place after the official end of slavery.

My grandfather on my father's side had blue eyes. To this day we’re not actually sure where the eye color originated because rumor is that his father was Asian. Whatever the source, the white doctor didn’t much cotton to my grand dad looking so white and having those blue eyes so the doctor had my grandfather’s eyes removed. It appears grand dad had cataracts. Of course removing the eyes cured his hazy eyesight.

My mother’s uncle went to the local university dental clinic for a tooth ache and was never seen again. It’s just rumor but it appears this was happening to a lot of black men. The medical school needed bodies so….

My mother didn't talk too much about the dozens of insults she bore but we were very aware that the reason my father had a job at the steel mills was because the bosses didn’t know he was black. We know this for sure because of all the low down racial slurs that were spoken with him present. They thought he didn’t chime in because he was just quiet. If they had known how much he wanted to annihilate each and everyone of them they would not have been able to turn their backs to him or sleep at night.

My family was driving to New Orleans from Chicago for a family gathering. I was about 10 years old. We stoped in Cairo,Illinois for gas. The Klan was in the local restaurant. No noticeable sheets, no hoods just unbridled hate. I wanted a piece of pie. The waitress proudly exclaimed, “we don't serve ni**ers in here” to the applause of those sitting in the establishment.

The friend driving us south put us on a train and headed back north. He knew enough to realize that the white boys hanging outside were just waiting for us to hit a dark patch of road. We waited for that train under bright lights at the station and he waited until day break to go back to the highway. I didn’t totally understand at the time but I remember the hushed conversations as I attempted to sleep in the back seat. I remember the tension in my mother’s voice. 

I also remember being seated in the crow’s nest in a theater in New Orleans. The crow's nest is  a place for people of color.  I didn’t have to sit all the way to the back because I was light skinned. I just couldn’t sit in any of the empty seats on the first floor. I also had to sit behind the sign on the bus that delineated white seating from colored seating. Of course the sign was regularly moved further to the back to accommodate any white person who couldn’t find a seat in the white section.

I can just about hear Minnie saying but that was then. This is now. Yes. Minnie you asked for recent events so here are a few. I attended a Catholic medical school in Illinois. During my interview for acceptance I was asked, and with a straight face, how I would feel being the only black in the class. My response was I would feel the same way I did as the only black in my undergrad class, the only black graduating from the biological sciences and the only black that a professor (priest) exclaimed that he was shocked that I was not happy with a grade of “C” on a test and asking him how I could get a better grade. How much extra work could I get to improve my education? I have to give him credit. After he got over the shock he apologized and gave me a study manual. You see he didn’t expect a black woman to be unhappy with a grade of “C”. My grades improved dramatically. By the way I did get into medical school. I was the only black in the class.

Yet another priest at the medical school said to my face that he didn’t expect my kind to become doctors even though the school had graduated a few of us in previous years.

During internship I had one of the best records of diagnosing cases from films. I also was asked for by patients who needed a line put in for studies because I rarely missed the vein. When I decided to apply at that hospital for a spot in the residency program the head of the department wrote in my interview notes that I cared more about my clothing than my patients. I was devastated. My residency manager told me that he made the head of radiology delete the note. It was a lie and an attempt to make sure that no minority would be allowed in that department while the head of the program was alive. Apparently he had openly made such statements.

I would have fought harder to challenge this but unfortunately a long term illness derailed my medical career.

This past week my husband and I were followed through a department store by security. That just happened. It’s one of the minor insults that we live each and everyday. If this were a book instead of a blog, I could dig up some more. You see some of us, like me, try very hard to put some of this misery away so we can function without hate. Some of us take a knee when the anthem is played or the flag is raised because it is preferable to taking up arms. Some of us still believe in the power of the boycott. Some of us believe that change is possible without hate. Some of us even understand that coal mining towns are suffering because of lack of jobs and opioid addiction is ravaging the poor and once middle class white people and we feel empathy. Yet, we take a knee because the empathy we feel doesn’t seem to be shared by too many in our country. We think everyone should take a knee until this country lives up to the promise of that piece of cloth you seem to hold so dear.

Filed under: Culture, Politics

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