Segrated America

For large chunk of my life, I have lived in relatively integrated countries and neighborhoods.  Now I live segregated America. I often imagine what this area of the country (which is also a state of mind) would be like if African Americans were the majority in this area. What would it be like if a black person and a white person met the first time? What if the black man asked the white man if he is married to his cousin or made moonshine? Wondered if was a meth dealer or addict?  Of course the white must be a racist, so we will stay away  from anything that may instigate some of that angry redneck pride? Many shotguns they had a at home?  If the white man has a suit on would the brother wonder what he don’t have a wife beater on and mesh back hat?   To conversation would seem ludicrous, but many whites make  similar assumptions when they meet a blacks in segregated America.

As an immigrant from a different black culture, it is often hard to meet people who have lived their lifetime away from those who are ethnically mixed.  When I meet segregated whites I often find myself having to explain some of the most elemental facts in my life. One of my fellow classmates was flabbergasted that I did not own an arsenal of guns, since I was partly raised in the Bronx..  I have met others that have been absolutely shocked by the fact that I was single and did not have any children.  A professor once told me he now knew the secret to my good grades with the fact that I was Jamaican and not African-American. He could not conceive that I was both. I have heard 1 million weed jokes after I have telling  acquaintances that my family is from the Jamiaca.  I  have heard nasty comments about immigration,  that forced me to identify myself as an immigrant in order to fluster  “American pride.’”

As a woman still considers herself a New Yorker, it is also hard for me to see the apathy of blacks in segregated America.  Chicago may be the home of Jesse Jackson, (often seen with hate in segregated America) but it is also home to a horrific  trend of school aged child killings. The community has reponded with tepid despair. In New York City the spirit of protest is still alive. The Shawn Bell verdict  is the latest rash of protests, which are led  by local firebrands  in addition to Al Sharpton.  Black New Yorkers protests  are often in reaction to incredible violations of civil rights  and sometimes they even effect change like the partial repeal of the Rockefeller drug laws.

Segregated America means ignorance and apathy. Ignorance on the part of white Americans in understanding the diversity, achievements and complexities of the darker citizens. Apathy among African-Americans who have seen their rights dwindle long before Bush initiated FISA.  It remains  to be seen  if the recent upswing in right wing extremism creates a domestic tragedy so horrific that each side realizes that a stronger county can only be achieved in building of  culture that treasures diversity as a premiere characteristic of the American spitit.

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