In this five-part series, Christian Williams, City of Goodyear, AZ, opens up about his experience with race.
By Christian Williams – Twitter
Race is controversial topic with many diverging opinions. Knowing that, I feel obliged to start with this disclaimer. The opinions, in this column, are mine and mine alone. My opinions do not reflect those of my organization, my race, my gender, millennials, or <insert anything else you want>.
Part II: No Blacks are Allowed at My Birthday Party
Growing up I experienced a number of situations where I was made to feel different due to my skin color. I wasn’t surrounded by racism every day, while living in Phoenix, AZ, but every once in a while, I experienced a strong reminder of my black skin color.
I know what it feels like to be called “N word”; I know the hurt of being told “no blacks are allowed at my birthday party”; and I know the hateful words <insert the name of anything that is dark brown> that can come from another human being.
One particular experience caused me to pause and reflect. While it occurred decades ago, I have not forgotten the outcome.
I was enrolled in a recreation program during winter and spring breaks. I would get dropped off at 7:30 a.m. and picked up at 5:00 p.m. Kids from across the city would come to an elementary school for activities and field trips. I enjoyed meeting new kids and forming new friendships. We played lava monster game, tag, and other playground games.
I fell into a routine which involved hanging around the same group of kids for most of the day. However, I started to realize a trend that every day one particular kid would stop talking to me around mid-day. Once I noticed the trend, I took the mature approach and started ignoring the other kid. My approach worked until one day the other kid confronted me asking why I wasn’t talking to him.
I explained that from my perspective, “in the afternoon you are mean to me and treat me different than everyone else.” The kid explained that she didn’t want to be mean but she would get in trouble if his parents saw her hanging out with a black person. I didn’t know how to react. I wasn’t overcome with rage but I did not understand how somebody could treat others poorly strictly because of race.
I reflect on the encounter because it’s part of who I am. I will never forget the encounter. I will never forget the other times that I have been discriminated against because of my skin color. I know that, even in today’s society with black CEOs, executives, presidents, directors, leaders, etc. , racism remains engrained in our culture.
Dislodging racism from society starts in the home. Some people are able to look past racist views that they have learned from parents, friends, or pop culture. I think of it as trying to wash dish soap out of a glass; eventually, the suds go away but it takes time. I hope that you will get your gloves on and start rinsing the racism away in your communities.