Finding Racism When I’m Not Even Looking: The Reality of Being Black in America
Racism pervades nearly every aspect of Black life in America on scales large and small. In order to address it, we first have to recognize it.
I saw a TikTok video the other day featuring a man ranting about racism in the amusement park fan community.
My first reaction was, wait, there are grown adults who are a part of an amusement park fanbase? Everything really does exist! My second thought was, damn, even something as innocent as theme park fan communities are pervaded with racism. This TikTok only added to a feeling I have been having recently, a fear of the way racism has felt more suffocating to me than ever before.
I cannot escape it.
It’s hard to find anything, and therefore enjoy anything, when racism seems to exist within everything. Yes, I am a journalist, the daughter of one of the most prominent social justice activists of our time, and simply, a Black woman in America. And because of these things, racism will be more apparent to my highly attuned senses. But despite what many may think, I am not on the constant search for racism.
All my life I’ve been the “woke” person in any friend group. Recently one of my friends introduced me to his girlfriend, saying “There’s only two things you really need to know about Kendi. She’s always talking about some social justice stuff, and she’s from Brooklyn”. He laughed. I laughed. We all laughed.
Later, I thought a lot about what he said. I don’t think of myself as any more inclined towards fighting for social justice than any of my other Black or Brown friends. I don’t spend my time searching for the ways racism infiltrates our daily lives, in fact, most instances of racism I witness are forced upon me.
I don’t want to have to point out the way Black characters are reduced to stereotypes in basically any TV show or movie created by a white person, but they are.
I don’t want to have to leave a store because security started following me and my friends from the moment we walked in, but I do.
I would much rather live in a world where instances of racism are so rare that I actually do have to search for it, but that’s never the case.
Racism exists in abundance, and anyone who says otherwise is ignoring the glaringly obvious.