I received an email from a friend of mine of a letter that she emailed to Kathleen Parker. It was in response to that ridiculous column that she wrote about the murder of Christopher Lane, race relations and PBO. The article was posted in the Houston Chronicle, our local conservative rag of a paper. We both serve on the first African-American alumni board at our alma mater, so the article touched in a deep way. One of the founders of our association experienced racism at our school back in the late 60′s and early 70′s, where he was one of a handful of black students. So, her letter spoke to me and I am sure it will speak to all of us about how angry we are about the minimizing of our plight, as well as how hard it can be to navigate through this society. With her permission, below is her letter in its entirety:
I read your above referenced opinion article that appeared in the Houston Chronicle’s Sunday, August 25, 2013 edition. Once again, I see that you, as a White individual simply just don’t get it when it comes to race relations from the minority prospective.
What happened to Christopher Lane was a tragedy. I cried after I read the article. It broke my heart to see that such a talented, handsome young man was gunned down simply because 3 punks were “bored and decided to kill someone.” When I went back to the article later that evening to see if pictures of the accused had been released, and saw that two of the three hoodlums were Black, I dropped my head and thought, “well, you idiots just blew any sympathy that may have been garnered after the Trayvon Martin shooting!”
While two young men are dead, only one was targeted because of his race. Christopher Lane was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. (However, do not misunderstand my comments; his death was just as senseless and tragic as Martin’s.) Zimmerman, on the other hand, deliberately targeted Martin because he was Black; and pursued him after authorities instructed him not to do so. Which begs the question; would Mr. Martin have been acquitted if he had been the survivor? Or, would it have been another Black on White killing? Yes, I know Mr. Zimmerman is Hispanic, but in the beginning, the media did list him as White.
Being a member of the predominant society (although that is quickly fading), it appears you believe that we African Americans or Blacks (whatever term you prefer) “cry wolf” too often.
However, let me ask you the following questions:
1. Have you ever been on an interview and had someone ask you “do you think you will be ok working here knowing you will be the only WHITE person?”
I’ve had that question asked of me, but of course being the only BLACK person.
2. Knowing how teenagers love to shoplift “just for the fun of it” have you ever had a salesperson follow you all over the store, and there are White teenagers all about laughing and giggling doing who knows what?
I have been followed by a White salesperson. I finally turned around, opened my purse and flashed cash and credit cards stating “look, I have money! They are the ones you should be watching because they steal just for the fun of it!” Needless to say she left me alone.
3. Have you ever been in line at the butcher’s counter at the grocery store, and the butcher has seen you there while he waited on other customers, then looks you in the eye and as soon as other White customers walk up say “who’s next?”
I have, on many occasions.
4. Have you ever been in a waiting room waiting for a interview, and when the individual calls out your first name, you are the ONLY one to rise and state “yes,” and then the individual blinks and calls out your entire name (as if there MUST be a mistake) and you affirm with another “yes,” only to have that person stare blankly at you as if they are at an entire loss?
I have, on many, many occasions.
5. Were your parents ever denied buying a home in a predominantly Black neighborhood?
Mine were denied buying a home in a predominantly White neighborhood.
6. Did you have an African American teacher who refused to talk about the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963? (Although you probably were not born at that time).
My 6th grade teacher, who ALWAYS discussed Current Events every morning, would not discuss Current Events after Martin Luther King was assassinated.
7. Here’s a good one. I was once told that it would have been better for Blacks to remain enslaved rather than be freed and subjected to the horrors of factory work in the North. Or better yet, that Blacks enjoyed slavery and their singing in the cotton fields each day proved that they were happy?
So, while the White population thinks we as Blacks or African Americans “protest too much,” let me remind you madam that it’s almost always about race. Yes, there are some people that are just plain rude and ignorant, but it’s mostly always about race. Your statement “…sometimes it’s just you.” maybe correct, but not if you are referring to two people of the same race. Also, when was the last time a BLACK store clerk followed YOU around in the hopes of deterring you from shoplifting? I thought not!
The only time I might step aside and wait, or cross the street is when I see a homeless person approaching, because so many of them are mentally unstable. Yes, that is a form of profiling, but the odds are greater that I am correct on that call, than profiling someone because of his/her tattoos, wearing his pants below his butt, or wearing a hoodie or because of the color of their skin.
Your comment that President Obama identified himself “…but as a black man who remembers women clutching their purses tighter as he entered an elevator…” Try to truthfully answer this question, would YOU have known that he was bi-racial if he had not acknowledged it? Of course not because when you are bi-racial, you are not visibly ½ white and ½ black; the predominating gene dictates your skin color. That is why we as African Americans or Blacks are a rainbow of colors…some have very dark skin, and some have very fair skin.
I would love for President Obama to make a public statement apologizing to the Australian people denouncing this horrific crime, so as to silence all those “Obama Haters,” and the ignorant racists who have begun the ironic rumors that his silence is “his condoning the murdering of the White race!”
So please, it’s not been the White race that has been subjugated to slavery, lynchings, segregation, Jim Crow laws, poll taxes, etc. It’s been the Black race. It’s not been the White race that has had to March on Washington for equality in education, housing and jobs. Oh and yes, you don’t see Black women cross the street to avoid White men or boys. I’m sure by now you are saying “oh not that same old whine again!” You see, that “whine” will never go away as long as racism and it’s underlying tone is always there lurking in the shadows.
You state in your article that you make your observations not to “…further exacerbate a problem…but in the hope that we can stop the craziness…” Really? What type of response do you think this article will generate when read by your White readers? Yeah, right! Victim in Chief? He’s not playing the victim, he’s relating actual facts that happened to him. Victim in Chief…that truly sounds like a comment made by an intolerant individual. Perhaps you need to go to the White House and read the hundreds if not thousands of racially charged hate mail that is sent to him, threatening him and his family. You, Ms. Parker appear to be out of touch!
If you really want to elicit change, don’t hide behind your articles. Remember the old adage “…actions speak louder than words!” So, what tangible thing have YOU done today to help with the racial climate in our United States?