I never wanted to talk about race as a kid, as I clearly saw the humanity that united us all. I desperately wanted to believe that racist America was a thing of the past--a hard fight that my ancestors overcame that would not overtly and directly affect me. I held on dearly to idealism, even when my parents imparted to me learned norms often centered on navigating racism and white privilege.
I held on to idealism when my high school classmates referred to the black student gatherings in the hallway as "the ghetto" or "little Africa".
I clenched hard to idealism when my white college mate who admittedly had never been friends with a black person said, "You are cool. I wish people really got to know you."
Idealism diminished when one of my best friends in college contemplated dating me but was hesitant because people in his family wouldn't approve because of my race.
It shattered when I was enjoying a night in Boystown Chicago, an area known for a large LGBTQ community, and a white gay male called me a "black tar n-word".
Although I wanted to live in a world where race is not a topic of discussion, my race did not afford me the privilege to bury racism as a past Americanism like slavery shackles. Racism followed me through diverse landscapes, showing itself to me in varied forms, at times choking me and making me submit to the fact that some would always see me only as a n-word.
As the presidential election season is now in full throttle in all of its ugliness, racism shines loudly, proudly, and clearly. I have always been someone to stay clear of interjecting my political views on other people, but when a candidate threatens to awaken and empower deep rooted racism that steps on the basic human rights and safety of groups of already marginalized people, the election becomes much more than being just about differences in political views.
When did it become okay to be overtly racist?
When did intolerance, proud racism, N-words, Islamaphobia, and hatred become the symbol of what it is to be a great America?
When did America become a nation that seeks to hearken back to a time of great civil rights infringement in a time where we could have chosen progress?
I have taken every endorsement of candidates who support racist and rights-infringing views personally. I have noted every justification of such behavior by those that benefit from a diverse America and have chosen to crap on those same people. I have taken note of all those people who claim to have black friends but choose to ignore and support views that have and will directly affect black people for a cause rooted in the privilege to declare mutiny on a system that has been set up to benefit white people.
I have seen many say they want to burn the system down by electing Donald Trump. Meanwhile people of color scream, "Hey, this could kill us. Don't black lives matter?" If anyone is willing to sacrifice basic human rights to one day brag about being part of a movement based on privilege, then that is no friend of mine. A candidate spewing and inciting hate should be no friend of America, but again, that could just be my idealism trying to sneak back up to the surface.