Lifestyle

Fight or Flight: Racism in America and How Young Adults are Fighting Back, Economically

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WRITTEN BY: Trenesse Wade

As a little girl, I was told to treat people with respect regardless of the color, race, or gender. However, I was taught something different. Growing up in a home full of immigrants, I was told that America is recognized as the land of opportunity and free will. However, early on I noticed, that America limits your opportunity and free will based on your race, gender, and socioeconomic status.

At the age of eight (8), I experienced my first struggle with double consciousness. While on a field trip to the IMAX theater, I saw something abnormal. Something that, for the first time in my youth, had me confused about my space in society as a black girl. I saw a group of black girls laughing and talking, and I didn’t see any white girls or girls of color with them.

These black girls also spoke in a vernacular that was foreign to me. The used terms like “finna” and “skreet”, terms that were either off limits or never used in my home. As I observed the black girls, I grew envious of their bond and a bit troubled by circle of friends. At the time, I was attending an elementary school in a upper middle class neighborhood, so, a vast majority of my friends were white and I hadn’t noticed prior to this experience.
When the group of girls noticed me watching them, they began to walk towards me. As I felt my hands clam up, fear filled my tiny body. I wasn’t sure if the girls were going to be inviting or violent like the depictions on the 5:00 p.m. news. Surprisingly, they were polite; but the jokes began to fly, as soon, as I opened my mouth.

The first joke was about my voice and vocabulary. I was referred to, as the white black girl and all versions of that with a few expletives, just to make the jokes sting. Naturally, I wanted fight because I felt insulted. I was minding my business, while staring and I got verbally attacked. Rather than escalating the situation, I decided to walk away and keep the whole experience to myself.
Little did I know, this experience with racism and classicism were the first of many. Let’s fast forward to Summer 2008. Summer 2008, I was accepted to Florida State University and began classes that June. While waiting for the school bus, I heard the words, “Go back to where you came from, nigger.” Initially, I was shocked; growing up in a society in which you are constantly told racism is dead and that we live in a colorless society, this comment really stung.

I lived a majority of my life in South Florida, so I have experienced very few outright racists. I’m more familiar with the closet racists. But the word nigger, was one I could never shake from my memory. I can still hear him yelling it out of his F-150 that I can still sketch, if given the opportunity.
None the less, I was very perplexed. How is a member of society able to carry on without an understanding and consideration of how one word could affect someone else’s life or perception of life? I tried to search my soul and textbooks for compassion and understanding, but all I found was rage. When bringing the topic of race to my peers and family members, I was told to drop the subject. It was almost as though, everyone was telling me to accept what happened and move forward.

Moving forward without holding this individual responsible didn’t seem possible. I felt as though, a great injustice was done to me because of the color of my skin and I wanted vengeance, but wasn’t sure how to go about holding the person accountable.

Long story short, I got no where. No one could offer me assistance, so I just decided to accept the experience as a learning opportunity. The next person that made a derogatory comment about my race would be held accountable.
Let’s fast forward to 2016. At this point in life, I had very few interactions with racism, but both interactions enraged me to the point of almost violence. Now working, for a predominantly white employer I was confronted with several incidents of racism, racial profiling, and prejudice. Again, I was faced with a dilemma, my integrity or my job. This time, I was going to stand for something and I chose my integrity.

Although it was difficult, I was able to put in my two weeks notice and find employment quickly. I say all of this to say, young people, we have to stand for something. We need to have enough respect for the Civil Rights Movement and our ancestors, to not allow their efforts go in vain.
We need to hold these people, businesses, and government entities accountable for acts of violence and discrimination against people of color. This means holding true to the policies set in place by the EEO and state harrassment laws. We need to be unafraid to report injustices, if not, we are placing the next person of color in the line of fire.

We all need to follow in the steps of Innclusive creators Rohan and Zakiyyah. Innclusive is an upcoming AirBNB for people that have experienced discrimination or are just unsatisfied with the service at current AirBNBs. Innclusive (formerly known as NoireBNB) was birthed out of a negative experience at an AirBNB.

Co-founder Rohan, was staying at an AirBNB when he overheard a derogatory comment being made by a patron about the influx of blacks at this particular AirBNB. He also received very little assistance from the staff at the AirBNB compared to his white comrade. Rohan’s story went viral, and he and his co-founder decided to open up a site for AIRBNBs, where people would be safe from discrimination and racism.

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Innclusive will be launching it’s services this August. Innclusive will service metro Atlanta, Washington D.C., Boston, and possibly New York. After Inclusive has mastered the East Coast, they will be expanding to the West Coast. If you’re interested in rooming with Innclusive and want updates, visit www.innclusive.com. You can also check them out on Twitter and Facebook, their handle is @innclusive.

Darshay K. Lampley is a Broadcast Journalism major and Creative Writing minor at Jacksonville State University. Upon graduating, she anticipates a lucrative career in the entertainment industry. Darshay is an entertainment journalist, on-air radio personality, and is currently writing her first book. Darshay believes that her ambition along with her strong faith in God will lead her down the pathway to success. "God is within her, she will not fail." Psalm 46:5

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