While at B-CC I was confronted with realities of race
Before I get into the meat of what I am going to be talking about, I want to preface it by saying that overall my time at BCC was a great experience when I attended. Through BCC I was able to receive three International Baccalaureate Certificates (History, English, Spanish) and was captain of the Varsity wrestling and football team. Many of the teachers there were incredible and really went above and beyond for their students. With all of the great things to say about B-CC I can also say that my experience there also shaped the way I began to view race.
I graduated from BCC in ’05 and like the majority of us, we were fed into BCC from Westland Middle School and the best analogy I can use from the transition from Westland middle School to B-CC High School in regards to race relation is like Adam and Eve going from innocence to realizing they were naked. Middle school was a very innocent time in regards to race. Everyone seemed to be cool with everyone, I really didn’t feel too many weird vibes. Your friend was your friend based on a lot of different things, but race didn’t seem to be the deal breaker. This was not the case in B-CC. It’s like we all ate from the tree God told us not to after middle school, it seemed really different. All of a sudden, the same people started drawing a line in the sand and race became a deal breaker. Unfortunately, this line was often drawn by those of my race, the white rather than by the black community. I remember being really confused, what happened? Why all of the sudden is there this weirdness between races.
I remember feeling all of this, but just thinking it was in my head. It was very subtle at first. Remember that we had all been friends in Middle School so the subtlety was necessary to not make it obvious. The racism in B-CC was always very subtle and I would say it was more like a racism of omissions rather than commission. It was what white kids didn’t do for their black counterparts rather than what they did do. What I mean is I don’t remember hearing a derogatory word while at B-CC, I’m not saying it never happened, it just wasn’t so blatant. I first saw this racism of omission when it came to parties.
Like I mentioned earlier, I was far from a model student and I enjoyed partying a lot. The biggest parties in the school were typically thrown by the white kids. At first I was invited to all the parties, some might say I was popular. I was Quarter Back of the Football Team and the class clown so at first, I got invited to all the parties. Each time I came, I went with my friends. I didn’t really think it was a big deal the fact they were black, we were friends. It wasn’t long until I stopped getting invited to the parties. I started to realized why because if something was stolen at a party, the host would typically come to me and ask if one of my friends (who is black) took it. I was in denial, I started acting out of frustration by getting into a lot of fist fights with these hosts, I wish I could say I fought them for a “righteous reason” but truth is, it was mainly because my feelings were hurt for being singled out and excluded. It was at B-CC that I had to make a choice, continue to be friends with those of a different race and not be accepted or abandon these friends for the sake of being accepted. My friends were my friends and here I am 10 years later with many of my same friends.
There was a handful of us white kids that didn’t really look at race too much or at least tried not to when it wasn’t so obvious. Speaking for myself, I was ignorant to the realities of it all. I believe it was because of this ignorance it took me so long to put words to what was going on, I was really confused and angry for a long time. I got into so many fights out of this ambiguous frustration that came from being outcast. I thank God for the way my parents raised me in this regard. It’s because of their openness that I am married to my best friend who also happens to be African American (Hey La Micia!). If I drew my line in the sand with the African American community I would have never had the wife I have today and I would have missed out big time.
Not every white person at B-CC drew a line in the sand, there were a handful that just didn’t for whatever reason and I’m glad we didn’t cave to the pressures. I believe our lives have been so much fuller as a result of the diversity of our friendships. I once went to a lecture by the coach played by Denzel Washington from “Remember the Titans”, Herman Boone and my main take away was that if we are unwilling to get out of our comfort zone, we cannot progress.
Jesus also didn’t look at race. If you read the story of Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-26), the greatest example of my life, Jesus Christ did not give into the societal prejudices either. He did something that Jews from a sociological perspective were forbidden to do, speak to Samaritans. Through all of this, I have realized that as you get older, this becomes a conscious decision, let’s follow that example.
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) -John 4:9